Sometimes we just need to be reminded of the basics! If you have an organizing project and don't know where to start, look no further than this quick guide! It's all about the basics.
1) SET ASIDE TIME: Block of 3 hours to start your project. Make this a time with no interruptions. No kids or phones!
2) START SMALL: Pick a room and choose a small area, such as your desktop or one drawer to start.
3) ASK QUESTIONS: For every object, as yourself, do you want it, love it, or need it? If the answer is "no" let it go!
4) CAN IT BE DONATED? Donate items that still have use! Check out my favorite donation organizations here.
5) HOW ABOUT RECYCLED? Can't donate it? Use the RecycleWhere tool to find recycling and responsible disposal options.
6) KEEP GOING: Stay focused on your chosen area and your work will pay off! If you need some extra help, feel free to book a session!
In San Francisco, our garages need to work hard. They may hold a collection of bikes, tools, toys, art supples and even a car! Too often, however, the garage is the ultimate dumping zone. Wouldn't it be nice to walk in your garage and love it? Imagine a place where it's easy to get around and find what you need. Is garage zen too much to ask for? I don't think so. It just takes some time and work.
PLAN. Block off a section of time to start your project. I recommend 3-5 hours. Make this a time with no interruptions. No kids, phones or pets. You may not be finished at the end of this time, but you will have a good start. Keep at it and stay focused.
SORT. Pick an area (such as the workbench) or a category (such as sports gear) and start asking yourself questions about the items you find. Is this item being used by you or someone else in the family? Is it needed? Does it work? Has it seen better days? Assess EVERY item you come across.
DONATE. If the item is not needed or wanted, can it be donated? Not sure? Check out my list of local SF donation organizations. Place smaller items in grocery bags and put everything near the door. It's helpful to label the bag with the organization's name. If it's not something you can donate, recycle or responsibly dispose of it. Is it toxic? Call Recology to do a pickup at (415) 330-1405.
ORGANIZE. If the item stays, find the right home for it, remembering to place it with like items. Not sure where it goes? Would bins, hooks or shelves be helpful? Put these items on a list and keep going. Stay focused on the task at hand.
STORE. Once you have purged the area, additional storage is often needed. Should you hang the bikes? More shelving? You could go with a simple shelving unit from a home supply store, mounted shelving such as Elfa Utility, or an entire garage system such as Monkey Bars. Whichever way you go, purging and organizing must come first. For additional garage organizing ideas check out my garage Pinterest board.
As always, feel free to book a session if you would like some help in creating your own garage zen!
Collection of Beanie Babies that were donated to UCSF Children's hospital. Rabbit not included!
Remember Beanie Babies? If not, they were hugely collectable stuffed animals in the late 90's. People went nuts for them for a time! Well, a client of mine recently decided that it was time to let go of her vast beanie baby collection. She had at least 100 beanie babies of every variety. Chameleons, scorpions, zebras, lobsters and lots of bears. Who knew?
My client wanted to let go of them, but it was important to her that they go directly to a kids organization. Thankfully Nicole and Heather in the Community Relations department at USSF Benioff Children's Hospital were happy to accept them! Now they will be brightening up the lives of lots of kids and their families! I can't think of a better way to part with a beloved collection.
Heather of UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital accepting the beanie babies and my daughter helping to make the delivery!
Top left photo: Pearl the Falcon. Bottom left photo of Recycling Center: Photograph © Sven Eberlein.
Right photo: Erin in hard hat and vest on tour.
Every Wednesday night I haul three bins into the sidewalk. One Black, one blue and one green. Of course, I had a general understanding of where my trash went, but now my understanding goes great deal further.
Recently I toured Recology's San Francisco Transfer Station and Recycling Center. On the tour, we learned about San Francisco's goal of zero waste - the most ambitious in the country - and how we can help achieve that goal by properly recycling and composting. We toured the Environmental Education Center, the Artist in Residence studios, sculpture gardens, and the dump transfer station. We also met a falcon named Pearl who is used to deter (but not harm) the many seagulls that flock to the station. She was absolutely beautiful!!
We then drove to the Pier 96 Recycling Center. This center really blew my mind! It's like walking into an octopus of conveyer belts! It's a 200,000 square foot state-of-the-art recycling center. Things are moving all around you. People and machines are hard at work sorting our recycling, and it's LOUD! It's actually kind of hard to comprehend everything that is happening as you walk through the center. It's amazing, enlightening and sobering.
The sheer amount of stuff we throw away and recycle is staggering. Of course, recycling is better than landfill, but that plastic will still be around in thousands of years, even if it's recycled. This trip really made me want to double down on my efforts to use less plastic and create less waste in general. Here is a great post by Sven Eberlein about the new center. It really gives you an idea of the size and feel of this massive place!
If you live in San Francisco, I highly encourage you to take one of these tours! They are free, happen twice a month and anyone can attend! Found out more here.
I was excited last week to find out that Pick It Up was chosen as one of the top 20 organizers in San Francisco by Expertise.com!
Expertise.com is a nationwide service that connects people with experts in their community. They combed through 187 professional organizers working in SF and chose their top 20. They based this decision on professionalism, availability, experience, credibility and reputation. I am thrilled to be recognized on this list! Thanks Expertise.com!
In my last blog post I wrote about greening your home by reviewing your cleaning supplies and personal care products. Here are a few additional ways to green your home and life that you may not have considered.
Support Local Green Business
The San Francisco Green Business Program makes it easy to find local certified business that meet high environmental standards. The guide has everything from architects & caterers to dry cleaners & grocery stores. PICK IT UP has been a proud SF Green Business since 2015! California also has a statewide Green Business Program if you are not in the bay area.
We all love our devices! But with the latest device, comes the inevitable e-waste. Green Citizen, a local non-profit dedicated to reducing e-waste, states "Although electronic waste only accounts for 2% of America’s trash, it’s responsible for over 70% of the nation’s hazardous waste." Green Citizen helps by taking ALL e-waste (anything that plugs in) and either responsibly recycling it or reselling usable items. They offer hard drive destruction to secure your information and even partner with local SF public schools to bridge the digital divide!
Green Citizen 1831 Bayshore Highway, Suite 2, Burlingame, CA 94010 (650) 493-8700
Safe Medication Disposal
It is important to safely dispose of old or unused medications. Flushing is not recommended, as these medicines can contaminate our waterways. If you are located in San Francisco, all police stations have medication collection bins with no police report needed. There are also many additional drop-off sites around the city. Check out this list of participating pharmacies on the SF Environment website
Each new green habit you adopt helps make our world a little bit cleaner. Of course I am always here to help with your home-greening efforts!
We all want our homes to feel safe, happy and health, right? For me, that includes making my home as eco-friendly as possible. Most of us recycle and have switched our light bulbs, but read on for some additional ways to green your home!
EWG's Skin Deep Guide & Healthy Cleaning Guide
Many of us use cleaning products in our homes and beauty products on our bodies without really know whats in them. Wouldn't you like to make informed choices?
The Environmental Working Group's website arms consumers with all sorts of information for making healthy purchases for yourself and your family. Look up your personal care products in the Skin Deep guide to see what score they get. Use the Guide to Healthy Cleaning to find products that clean without harming your health. Remember that some of the best cleaners are vinegar, baking soda and hot water!
Dispose of Toxics Properly
Once you have made the decision to get rid of all the nasty chemicals in your home, you need to dispose of them safely. Items such as chemicals, electronics, batteries, fluorescent bulbs and pesticides should never go in your trash bins or down the drain. If you live in San Francisco, you can schedule a free home pickup from Recology by calling (415) 330-1405. You can also drop items off at at the Recology Transfer Station (the dump) Thursday – Saturday: 8:00AM – 4:00PM. You can find out more information here. If you are outside of SF, call your local waste management company for information about safe toxic disposal.
All of these small decisions add up to a safer home and cleaner environment for all of us. Of course I am always here to help with your home-greening needs! Stay tuned for additional ways to green your home.
Be Ready for Anything
Being Californians, we all know we should have supplies on hand in case of an earthquake, but rounding up emergency supplies is just the first step to really being ready for anything. Creating a home inventory and vital records carrier can take your preparedness to the next level!
Be prepared to go without services for 72 hours in an emergency. Gathering three days worth of food, water, medicine and toiletries for each member of your family, including pets, is a good starting place. Then add a first aid kit, flashlights, warm clothes and a hand crank radio. Check out SF72 for additional essentials.
It's likely you already have many of these supplies on hand. Gather them together to create a dedicated Emergency Kit. Store everything in a sturdy container in an accessible location. Be sure to label it and notify other family members. Alternately, you can purchase a ready-made kit at The Ready Store!
Can you name all of the items in your home without looking? I certainly can't! That's where having a home inventory list comes in handy. It can save you time and money when filing an insurance claim. A home inventory can be as simple as a list of items for every room in your home and an accompanying video.
You can also use apps like Centriq or HomeZada. Both offer free home inventory capability as well as additional services such as keeping manuals, warranties and maintenance information all in one place.
Accessing your vital records, such as birth certificates and passports, in an emergency can be essential. Keeping them secure, but easily accessible is important. It's a good idea to protected the originals in a fire-proof safe. You can then have copies in a folder where they are ready to grab in case of an emergency.
Take your emergency planning one step at a time, knowing each measure helps your family be a bit more prepared. Revisit each of the above items every few years to keep them up to date.
Of course, I'm always here to help!
Being first aid certified is another way to be ready for anything. Check out the American Red Cross web site redcross.org for tons of local and online first aid classes.
January is national Get Organized Month! Our Bay Area Chapter of NAPO (The National Association of Professional Organizers) has two great donation events happening in San Francisco this month.
Children's Book Project Donation Event
Erin Becker is the owner of PICK IT UP, a