Getting Organized, with Wisdom from the Ages


January is always a good time for fresh beginnings, updated goals, and a more put-together you. Fittingly, the National Association of Professional Organizers has designated January as “Get Organized Month.”

So how can we focus on getting organized, help make our lives run more smoothly, and stay the course until the work is done?

Let’s take a look at some wisdom from the ages.

Get started

All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action. – James Russell Lowell

It’s most likely that Lowell meant “a single lovely action” to be kindness towards others but this quote applies to getting organized, too. No matter how many thoughts we have about being organized, it’s action that counts. Do one thing. Toss one item, give something away, organize one shelf.

Make time

You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it. – Charles Buxton

What a great quote for our busy lives! We can always use the excuse that we don’t have time to organize or downsize – so we have to make it a priority, put it in our schedule.

Don’t procrastinate

“Now is the time. Needs are great, but your possibilities are greater.” – Bill Blackman

Yes, now is the time to get organized. Start small, start with the easy stuff, but do start. The results will be worth it: what great possibilities await.

Stay the course

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

Rather than looking at getting organized as one big project, try seeing it as a series of many small projects. Some of the small decluttering plans may be quick, some may take time; some may be easy, some may be a struggle. But all are worth doing.

Toss the object, keep the memory

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. – Herman Hesse

Keep the memories, get rid of the stuff – the mantra of our book – says it all. You are not letting go of your life, or your memories, you are just getting rid of stuff that clutters your life.

Action is better than perfection

“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” – Dr. Robert Schuller

Simply said, done is better than perfect.

Wishing everyone a less cluttered, more organized month.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home designcrafts, and food, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

#Recycling, Stage Two: Stepping It Up, for a Cleaner, Healthier Earth


Did you know that in 1989 President George H.W. Bush declared April National Recycling Month? Makes good sense in the month we also celebrate Earth Day, doesn’t it?

The good news is, we’ve gotten so much better at recycling than we used to be back then.

  • In 2010, paper recycling had increased over 89% since 1990.
  • Over 87% of Americans now have access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs.
  • Businesses with record-setting food diversion programs are recovering 50% to 100% of their food discards and reducing their overall solid waste by 33% to 85%.

The not-as-good news is that we still have a long way to go.

  • Over 75% of waste is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it.
  • Less than 1% of all plastics products are recycled in the U.S. Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic beverage bottles every hour!
  • We generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year. If we composted that food, it would reduce the same amoutn of greenhouse gas as taking 2 million cars off the road.

Obviously, some of the things that need to be done to improve our recycling habits require community-wide or business-based solutions. But there are some things all of us can do as individuals, from day to day, that will help make a difference:

  • Remember that recycling is good, but reducing (waste) and reusing (things) before recycling them is even better.
  • For example: bringing canvas tote bags to the grocery store is better than recycling plastic bags. And minimizing the printing of documents is even better than recycling paper and cartridges.
  • Know and follow your local rules for recycling: don’t put things in recycling bins that CAN’T be recycled in your community (like  greasy pizza boxes); and don’t (ever) put things in the trash that CAN be recycled (like soda cans and plastic bottles).
  • For goodness sake, DON’T PUT FOOD TRASH IN RECYCLING CONTAINERS!  (We really ought to bring back stocks and pillories for this offense 😦 )

Other posts on this blog will help you find out how to recycle  electronics and carpeting as well as other “pesky” hard-to-recycle items.

The good news is, if you’re committed to not throwing toxic waste into our landfills, no matter where you live, there are ways to avoid it.

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy Spring, Happy Earth Day, and Happy National Recycling Month! Let’s make it better than ever!

Janet Hulstrand is a writer/editor,  writing coach travel blogger, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.

Sources consulted for this piece:

April 22 is Earth Day


The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970, celebrated across the country by people concerned with environmental issues. The date was chosen because April 22 is the first day of spring in the Northern hemisphere and the first day of fall in the Southern hemisphere .

What can you do to honor the day?

Here are some suggestions from Earth Day Network.

–       Attend an Earth Day event

–       Organize a Day of Service

–       Pledge an Act of Green

You can share a photo of the day. Join Flickr and  upload your photos taken any time during the 24-hour period of April 22 to State of the Environment Group.

You can recycle, of course!

Here are some organizations to help you find recycling locations in your area.


A company whose byword is “Outsmart Waste” is dedicated to eliminating of the idea of waste. It converts previously non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle waste into many products in over 20 countries.


Recycle something you no longer need. List a material or item and your zip code to find a location that recycles the material you have.

Call 2 Recycle

This company is the only free rechargeable battery and cell phone collection program in North America. Their slogan is “Make every day Earth Day.”

AARP Recycling Guide

Select an item from their list to find an organization that recycles it, from batteries to golf balls to wheelchairs.

Better World Books

This organization has re-used, donated, or recycled over 73 million books. That’s 99 million pounds of materials that stayed out of the landfill. Great for the planet. Donate your books, then buy other books from them.

As Call 2 Recycle says, let’s make every day Earth Day.

≈Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home design, crafts, and foodand coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

Whatever Happened to National Recycling Month?

So, last year there was a National Recycling Month. We wrote about it here.

But when we tried to find a press release with information about this year’s planned activities, the first two things that came up on our search were…well, our own posts. And we couldn’t find a central source of information for this year’s National Recycling Month. (If we’ve missed it somehow, we hope someone will tell us where it is! Hopefully in a way that doesn’t make us feel too stupid.)

So, what happened to National Recycling Month, anyway?

Here’s the  story: in 1989 President George Herbert Walker Bush officially declared April  National Recycling Month.

And in the meantime, everyone has kind of lost interest in the topic? Surely not.

We haven’t, and we know that millions of other people haven’t either. So we propose to carry on celebrating National Recycling Month just as if it were being officially sponsored.

April really is a perfect time for a National Recycling Month, what with spring cleaning,  and Earth Day coming up on April 22, don’t you think?

There are some national recycling activities  going on this year. Here’s a story about Evanston, Illinois participating in a nationwide contest sponsored by the Cans for Cash program, which rewards municipalities for increasing their aluminum recycling.

We invite you to join us in keeping both the spirit and the actions of National Recycling Month alive, in whatever ways you can. And if you know of other nationwide celebrations of National Recycling Month, please let us know!

Here are a few posts from our archives that we hope will help you find new ways to keep our trash out of the landfills, making the earth a healthier place for us, for our children, and their children.

Janet Hulstrand is a writer/editor,  writing coach travel blogger, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.

Five Good Reasons to #Recycle

Are you ready for  National Recycling Month?

To help put you in the right frame of mind, here are a just a few (of many!) good reasons to recycle:

1. If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25,000,000 trees a year.

2. Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.

3.  Motor oil never wears out, it just gets dirty. Oil can be recycled, re-refined and used again, reducing our reliance on imported oil. A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.

4. The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours or a compact fluorescent bulb for 20 hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.

5. The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.

I don’t know about you, but that’s enough to make me think twice before tossing things into the nearest landfill.

Janet Hulstrand is a writer/editor,  writing coach travel blogger, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.

(Thanks to: for these amazing facts. If you still need convincing, there are more on their site.)

April is National Recycling Month – for Clothing, too!

April is National Recycling Month and yet clothing is probably far from the first item that comes to mind when we think about recycling.

But according to Clothes4Souls, more than 85 percent of all clothing purchased in the U.S. ends up in landfills. Every American discards over 68 pounds of clothing per year.

Can we do better than that? We can certainly try.

We can start by finding new homes for our gently used clothing and shoes by donating the items to a charity that will distribute them to those in need or to a company that will recycle them.

Check out the following sites to find out where you can drop off clothing (many have drop-off location finders) or how to schedule a pick up.


All clothing



Mid-Atlantic Clothing Recycling (MAC)

Military Order of the Purple Heart

The Red Cross

The Salvation Army

Vietnam Veterans of America


Woman’s clothes

Dress for Success

The Woman’s Alliance


Men’s clothes

Career Gear


Prom dresses (Chicago) (Boston)  (New York) (Philadelphia) (San Francisco) (Canada)


Wedding dresses

Brides Against Breast Cancer




Donate Your Old Shoes

Share Your Soles

Nike Reuse-A-Shoe

Recycled Runners


Scheduling a pick up




Getting rid of the rest





Where do you donate your clothing? Share your favorite places with us.


≈Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home design, crafts, and food,

and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

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