advice

Confessions of a Professional Organiser

Capsicum as big as a tin of milo
A capsicum as big as a tin of milo that I grew myself!

Don’t let the shiny red capsicum as big as a tin of milo deceive you. I am no gardener. As evidence of this, I must confess that I once killed an air plant, which as the name suggests, really only needs *air to live. I wish I was a gardener though. The gardeners I know seem so happy, relaxed and rightfully proud of the peaceful sanctuaries they’ve created. I want my garden to be like that too, I really do. I imagine it would be an inspiring and joyful place to spend time and who doesn’t need more of that in their life, am I right?

I have moments of inspiration when I really try to get my garden on track and sometimes my efforts pay off. But it never seems to last and more often than not, it doesn’t work at all. No matter how hard I try, the plants fail to thrive, or worse, die with no regard to the huge effort (I think) I put in. I find it hard to get motivated to garden at the best of times but when plants die despite my efforts, it’s nearly impossible to find and maintain the motivation required to grow an inspiring and joyful garden. And then my garden is trapped in a downward spiral of my own making (or lack of making much effort more likely). My garden gets neglected and it feels harder, more time-consuming and just too overwhelming to even contemplate how I will get it back in order, let alone try and do it.

Sometimes, when things get desperate, I spend a whole weekend ‘blitzing’ the garden just to get it back to some kind of starting point. But then I am so burnt-out I don’t want to garden again for a month (or six) and I end up back at square one.

I have had to admit to myself that gardening just doesn’t come naturally to me. I have trouble visualising what I really want and how best to use the space. Even if I did know clearly what my ideal outcome was, I wouldn’t have the first clue where to start in order to make it happen.

The funny thing is, knowing this doesn’t stop me wishing I was a better gardener and hoping that I will be one day. It doesn’t stop me reading the books and articles, or pinning the photos of all the beautiful gardens I aspire to have even just a slice of in my own backyard. Occasionally I get a bit green-eyed at the people who seem to have it all together in the garden department but more often than not, it just confirms to me that this is something I really want for myself because I know how much better my life would be if I could just conquer this struggle once and for all. But I know deep down that wishing, hoping and feeling inspired isn’t the same as GETTING IT DONE!

When I think about it, the only time I have any real success in the garden is when I have help. My mum is an excellent (and very patient) gardener and I love gardening when I am doing it with her. It’s just more fun with someone else there encouraging me and showing me how easy it can be. Plus, she has the vision and I like it. She knows what tools I need and what plants would be best. I mean, she knows about plants I’ve never even heard of! It’s just fun to garden with her and I always make progress with her help.

So I guess I will continue to garden in the best way I know how… with mum (or any other willing participants) by my side. And, I’ve recently had a professional gardener and landscaper come in to help me clarify my vision and give me ideas I never would have come up with on my own. I know it is going to take a combination of strategies to get my garden growing but I also know the effort will be worth it. And where I can’t do it myself, I am ready to call in the experts!

And so it is with organising. My struggles as a gardener have given me invaluable insight into the struggles of those who find it difficult to get organised. I realise that all the feelings I have about gardening, they have about organising. And so I feel blessed to be asked to help every single courageous client that chooses me to guide them in finding their organised sweet spot. I say courageous even though there is no shame in asking for help. Just as there is no shame in hiring a gardener, a personal trainer or a caterer. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. To me, it demonstrates their true dedication and determination despite the challenges. And so, it is my privilege to witness their life-changing transformations and these everyday heroes are my daily inspiration.

So to all my clients, past, present and still to come, I thank you for trusting me and I salute you with my gardening brown thumb. I can hand on heart say, I understand your struggles and I promise, we can do this together.

 

*I know that air plants also require water and I suspect I may have actually over-watered mine, much to my dismay considering my problem is usually not watering enough. So no need to email me with your gardening tips for air plants… I feel so bad about it I promise to never take one into my custody again. At least not until I have a full time gardener on staff 😉

Tiny capsicum
Actual size of the one and only capsicum I grew this summer. Credit: Coles for the mini tin of milo that my son lent to me to help me feel accomplished.

 

Let’s Talk Trash

NOW 2018 imageWelcome to Day 1 of little miss sorted’s 7 Day Sustainable Declutter Challenge

When it comes time to declutter, many people default to sorting items into 3 piles: Keep, Donate or Toss. Whilst it’s a starting point and a good way to conceptualise the task at hand (especially if already feeling overwhelmed by stuff) the majority of the time I personally don’t find 3 categories to be enough if you want to declutter sustainably.

One thing I know for sure is that if you put down a big tub lined with a garbage bag and start putting everything in it that isn’t being kept or donated, the contents will end up in landfill. No-one is going back and sorting that rubbish bag out. No-one. So the key for me when it comes to sustainable decluttering is to sort items properly in the first place.

Depending on the space you are decluttering, think about the following categories for more sustainable sorting (I find large open tubs of different colours or labelled boxes work great for this):

  • Stay (in this room)
  • Redistribute (to another family member/room/place)
  • Sell
  • Donate
  • Recycle (kerbside)
  • REDcycle
  • Compost
  • Shred
  • Landfill

So hopefully now you are starting to see why the simple “Keep, Donate & Toss” system isn’t that useful for sustainable decluttering.

If you’re interested to know more, go grab yourself a beverage of choice (this isn’t a brief post) and allow me to share a few of my sustainable “Donate & Toss” tips and resources.

Because if we get this right, we can have a really positive impact on our environment.

 

  1. Donate

I personally love this option for unwanted goods that still have life left in them. It helps to ensure items get to the people who really need and want them whilst generating income for charities who support some of our most vulnerable citizens. It also means you don’t end up imposing your unwanted clutter on an often reluctant recipient (who probably doesn’t want it either but is too polite to say and who probably also struggles to find somewhere to stash it).

However, when it comes to donating, we have a responsibility to do so mindfully and respectfully or quite frankly, we don’t deserve the feel-good fuzzies that come from being charitable.

Charities spend millions of dollars every year disposing of unusable items that have been dumped on them. If you can’t use it, neither can a charity.

Top Tips for Sustainable Donating:

  • Only donate during opening hours or into a designated collection bin. The little miss sorted Resource page also lists charities who offer a collection service
  • Check the guidelines for what the charity will accept before you donate as the rules differ. Some don’t take electrical items, soft toys or certain baby items, for example.
  • Only donate what you would be happy to use for your own family
  • Some clothing, whilst not being suitable to be worn again, may be an acceptable donation for rags. Check out these general guidelines and ensure the charity you take them to accepts this type of donation as many don’t

 

  1. Recycle (Council/Kerbside)

This seems straight forward but apparently 11% of people think used disposable nappies are recyclable. I mean, really? And don’t imagine there’s some magical fairy fixing your recycling sins at the other end. There isn’t. Contaminated recycling goes to landfill.

The top 3 mistakes people make when recycling are:

  1. Putting plastic bags into recycling. 9 out of 10 councils reported this was the main problem. A good rule of thumb we use in our house is if the plastic changes shape when filled with water, it can’t go into council recycling
  2. Putting recyclable items into the normal bin. Nearly half the councils reported this problem which is a real missed opportunity and sees unnecessary space taken up in landfill
  3. Food contamination. Grease and oil affects the paper pulping process, a problem for a quarter of councils

It doesn’t help that every local council has their own rules on what you can put in your recycling bin but we can’t use that as an excuse. Take 10 minutes to look-up the waste services section on your local council’s website and familiarise yourself with the rules for where you live.

Top Tips for Sustainable Recycling:

 

  1. REDcycle

This is a game changer in my opinion. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard about this until recently. RED Group, a Melbourne-based consulting and recycling organisation, has developed and implemented the REDcycle Program; a recovery initiative for post-consumer soft plastic. RED Group has teamed up with Coles & Woolworths to make it easy for you to keep your plastic bags and soft plastic packaging out of landfill. Think plastic food wrapping, shopping bags, bread bags and cereal box liners.

One business doing this well is The Garden. Well worth checking out their system in the reception area if you live local to Frankston, Victoria.

Top Tips for Sustainable REDcycling:

  • Check out what can be REDcycled – do the scrunch test!
  • Set-up a permanent box or bag for your REDcycling at home and print off this list so you know what goes in
  • Set it up at work, your local kinder, childcare centres, schools and universities and spread the word!

 

  1. Compost

This is so easy, we should all be doing it. Even if you live in an apartment you can invest in a composting system that works under the bench. It doesn’t smell… promise!

So why isn’t this more widely practiced? I think people either don’t know how to do it or get complacent about it because they think food and other things you can compost is organic/living matter and therefore it breaks down easily so what does it matter if it goes to landfill? But that is the very issue. When food scraps are sent to landfill, they decompose without oxygen (anaerobically) to produce methane, a greenhouse gas with
over 20 times the global warming capacity of carbon dioxide. Decomposing food scraps are also a potential source of leachates (liquid that drains from landfills) that can contaminate surface and ground water.

If food scraps are composted, the organic matter and nutrients they contain can be reused as fertiliser. Properly composted food scraps are a valuable resource. In some commercial composters, methane and other biogases can also be captured and used to generate electricity. Read more about the impact of methane released into the atmosphere from food scraps here.

Top Tips for Sustainable Composting:

  • Make sure you have your own compost bin, compost heap, worm farm or Bokashi bucket to do your bit at home
  • Composting is not just for food scraps. In fact it requires a combination of wet and dry material to really thrive. Take your open mind over to this article and educate yourself!
  • Even if you don’t have a garden, your local community garden is unlikely to turn your delicious compost away if you do it right. Alternatively you could raise it as an item for your body corporate to consider providing for your block of residents

 

  1. Shred

Anything you wouldn’t want printed on the internet should probably be shredded and not just recycled. However, if you think your life’s too boring for anyone to bother stealing your paperwork, or you like living on the edge, at the very least shred personal and financial information that is tempting to thieves. If you have a large backlog of paper to shred or you seem to generate a lot, it’s worth having a secure document company come and shred it for you. This can be done on site in front of you, at their location with a certificate of destruction issued at the end or a bin (much like your recycling bin) can be delivered to your door for later collection. This can be lockable – just make sure you request it, if that’s what you want.

Top Tips for Sustainable Shredding:

  • Invest in a shredder. One that cross-cuts is ideal
  • Ideally shred as you go – don’t make a huge job for yourself by saving it all up to do “one day”
  • Put your shredded paper into your compost bin or worm farm. The worms will love it and potential identity thieves will give up and go next door

 

  1. Landfill

Okay, so hopefully now we have very little left in our “Toss” pile because we’re utilising all the other options first. There’s really not much more you can do to avoid some items going into landfill if you’re utilising the other options mentioned above first, except for being more mindful during the acquiring process and ensuring you aren’t disposing of harmful items in your rubbish. A big culprit here is household batteries. These should never be put into the rubbish bin as they leach dangerous metals into the ground. Battery World Stores accept all types of batteries for safe disposal and ALDI supermarkets accept household batteries.

Top Tips for Rubbish Disposal:

  • Keep a small child-proof container somewhere safe from little people and store up your used batteries. Then simply take them with you when you know you’ll be nearby to a drop-off point. I find writing a little reminder on my shopping list to be a great way to systemise this when the container is ready to be emptied.
  • Dispose of harmful items in the appropriate way. See this great website for more information
  • Wherever possible, avoid buying items with lots of plastic/excess packaging that you can see will end up at the tip
  • Utilise your council’s resources such as recycling centres and hard rubbish collections. Most offer at least one free collection each year. Some are on set dates, others you need to call and request a pick-up.

 

All these resources and more can be found on the little miss sorted Resources page on the website. We are constantly updating our Resources Lists so check back regularly.

Tomorrow we tackle the kitchen so look out for lots of hints, tips and resources and remember you can drop your unwanted items from the list mentioned in my post on Sunday to me any day during National Organising Week. Tomorrow you will find me here:

Pinewood Nursery (Carpark)
478 Blackburn Rd, Glen Waverley
3:15-3:45pm

I’d love to know if you’d heard of REDcycling before now and if you participate or if we’ve been living under the same rock! Leave me a comment.

Happy Sustainable Decluttering! The planet thanks you.

Can you take a hint? Ready, Set…

NOW 2018 image

Today is Clean Up Australia Day. Tomorrow is the start of National Organising Week.

I think the Universe is trying to tell us something.

And when she talks, we should listen. So here’s what’s happening… Each day for the next 7 days I’ll be popping up at a different location somewhere in the South-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne to take your unwanted clutter* off your hands and sustainably dispose of it on your behalf at absolutely no cost to you. That’s right, totally FREE.

Don’t live in Melbourne or can’t get to me? Don’t worry. I’ll also be providing lots of resources for future reference of organisations locally, nationally and sometimes even globally that will accept your excess clutter and keep it out of landfill.

Not sure where to start? No problem, I’ve got it sorted. Each day I’ll be posting some helpful tips on how to declutter a different zone of your home so we can work through it methodically and without getting overwhelmed. It’s just for 1 week… I know you can do it!

So really, what have you got to lose, except some clutter? I’m making myself available all week to answer your organising questions, help you get sorted and encourage you to find your Organised Sweet Spot and live life there. So please join in the daily challenges and help others you know who might also benefit from some free Professional Organising advice by sharing this post and the upcoming daily blogs with them.

I’d love to hear about your progress, see your before and after photos and meet you (and your clutter) at the various locations listed below. (Click here to see who you’re looking for!) If you do join in, by the end of the week I promise you will have more space and a clean conscience to boot.

*Items I will be accepting are:

Expired medicines
Unopened toiletries including hotel-sizes
Clean towels and blankets
Household batteries
Plastic shopping bags
Unused nappies (opened packets & no packets are also acceptable)
Unwanted craft items
Kids’ books in good condition
Non-perishable pantry items (in date)
Magazines
Old reading glasses
Used stamps
Old mobile phones & their accessories
Ink cartridges
Bras
Women’s corporate clothing & accessories
Handbags

So have a think about the space invaders in your house and start gathering them in an “OUT” bag near the door. And yes, that includes all the stuff you’ve been meaning to sell for the last 3 years and haven’t.

Take a look at my schedule below and decide where you can meet me and stay tuned throughout this week to find out where your items will be going!

  • Please note – I can only accept normal household quantities & any sorting you can do to keep categories of items separate & contained would be much appreciated.
  • I will provide additional resources and information on my website on how you can dispose of items not listed above.

Where to find me – this week only:

Mon 5th March
(Outside) Seaford Kindergym 
3/10 Rutherford Rd, Seaford
11:45-12:30pm
Tue 6th March
Pinewood Nursery (Carpark)
478 Blackburn Rd, Glen Waverley
3:15-3:45pm
Wed 7th March
Doncaster Officeworks (Carpark)
602-630 Doncaster Rd, Doncaster
1:30-2pm
Thu 8th March
Mums Supporting Families In Need (Warehouse)
2/7 Sir Laurence Drive, Seaford
12-1pm
 Fri 9th March
The Garden – Frankston (Reception)
4 Ross Smith Ave W, Frankston
11-11:30am
Sat 10th March
IKEA Springvale (Near Entrance)
917 Princes Hwy, Springvale
CANCELLED
Sun 11th March
Sandbox Café – Sandhurst Golf Club
75 Sandhurst Blvd, Sandhurst
10-11am
  • Please note: Sometimes unexpected things happen. Keep an eye on my website & Facebook page in the unlikely event I need to make a last minute update to times and locations.

View the above locations on Google Maps

In the meantime, if you’re ready to get started N.O.W. why don’t you head on over to the Clean Up Australia Day website and find a site near you where you can pitch in to help clean up. Or if you can’t attend, perhaps you’d consider making a donation here. I was surprised to learn that Clean Up Australia does not receive government funding and relies on private and corporate donations to keep their campaigns running and to provide supplies like gloves, tools and rubbish bags for volunteers. All donations above $2 are tax deductible for Australian taxpayers.

Enjoy your Sunday and I’ll see you tomorrow for our first N.O.W. organising challenge!