Thursday, March 1, 2012

40 Guest Post: Getting Organized? Be Green About It!

Today I am excited to welcome Katrina Teeple, founder and CEO of Operation Organization!



When it comes to being earth friendly and cutting costs when organizing, Katrina is an expert on the subject!  In fact, I stumbled upon her site when searching for "Green Organization" tips to share with all of you, so I thought, what better than to have her guest post!

"Most of us who are organizationally inclined also like it when we find an item or activity that does double duty.  You may not realize it, but getting organized can also play a role in your efforts to live a greener, more sustainable life.  Environmentally friendly cleaning products are not the only way to be green and clean.  Think about doing more with less to reduce your overall impact on the earth.

I like challenging myself to come up with green ideas when tackling an organizing project.  Reduce, reuse, recycle right?  What if you can use items that take up space in your home or office to actually organize and minimize clutter?  Avoid contributing to landfills and skip the cost of bins and containers?  With a few simple tips you can de-clutter your life, save money, and help save the planet.

Organizing projects often aim for reducing the amount of stuff you are storing, hiding or have forgotten in a corner.  But all too often, our consumer society sends us the message that we must buy shiny, new containers to reorganize the things we end up keeping after a purge.  When you think about organizing in this way it doesn't seem like de-cluttering will reduce our carbon footprint, let alone save us any cash!  Sure, we all love a trip to the Container Store or Target, but let's curb our desire for new plastic goodies and turn to our own home environment for inspiration.  In the process of getting rid of your unused belongings, keep an eye out for those gems that can be re-purposed.  An additional up-side to finding storage solutions right at home is that, chances are, what you choose to reuse will be far more aesthetically pleasing than a generic bin!

{box lids for drawer organization}

Green organizing is a mindset.  You must be willing to let go while you keep a creative disposition.  Before donating those unused vases that are often automatically stowed away after a flower delivery, pick out a couple that could be used as containers.  One could hold mixing spoons and cooking utensils from that overstuffed drawer in the kitchen.  If you are lucky, you could find {my personal favorite} a vase the perfect width and height to hold rolls of fresh toilet paper in the bathroom.


Vases also serve as a great under the sink container for things like extra hairbrushes.

You can reuse different sized box lids to organize a bathroom, kitchen or desk drawer.  Shoe boxes can also be an amazingly helpful tool.  I reuse them to keep a dresser full of clothes organized.



Their thin cardboard walls take up little space and allow you to hold and color code t-shirts to socks.

The possibilities of repurposing are endless.  Train your organizational eye to find the useful in the ordinary.  Altoid tins for bobby pins or meter change in the car, an old iPod box to hold thumb drives, binder clips for computer cord wrangling, or a tray to display everyday products on a counter-top.  Start to think of items as double agents: one life as a vase and another life as a toilet paper holder.  How can you use the things you have to get the organized life you want?


Multitude of tasks complete!  Remember you can reduce clutter in two places at once, a drawer and an unopened cabinet, all while doing the planet a favor by repurposing items and donating the rest for reuse.  By keeping organizing lean and green, you save a few bucks in the process and feel much more satisfied with your creative solutions for everyday clutter.

For those of us who are clutter busting green dreamers, there seems to be endless problems and too few solutions - an easy recipe for discouragement.

Remember, though; no step towards a greener, better-organized life is wasted, especially when you are accomplishing so many things at once.  Choose a problem that needs to be de-cluttered and decide what stays and what might be better used by somebody else.  Don't let the feelings of guilt override common sense.  I can assure you Aunt Gertrude will get over not seeing that Mickey Mouse salt & pepper shaker she gave you and life will go on if you give away your alma mater sweatshirt or re-gift a candle.

Rather than throwing things in the garbage, recycle, repurpose and donate.  Just make sure that you factor in the time to get your unwanted items out of the house within 24 hours.  This will ensure that you complete the organizing project you set out to do instead of leaving a pile by the front door for a month.  Lastly, have fun with your organizational systems - you probably have countless great ideas that just need a few quiet minutes to be realized."


Now we get to be extra spoiled!  Katrina has a video on the subject as well with even more ideas on the subject!


You can find more great tips over on Katrina's Operation Organization website, including ways to organize with style!


I have always been a fan of shopping the home for storage.  Recovering everyday boxes and soup cans with pretty paper, using mason jars for pens and craft supplies and vases for kitchen utensils and corralling dishcloths near the sink.  Nothing feels better than getting creative and making the most of what you already have!

A special THANK YOU to Katrina for the great reminder that we have so many items that can easily double as storage, right within our own homes.  As she mentioned, a trip to Target and the Container Store is always fab organizing fun, but it's not always the most economical, green or even necessary.  Evaluating your home before heading to the store should be step one.  

I would love to know, what item{s} have you repurposed recently for storage?

Katrina's profile picture courtesy of Nathan Morgan Photography
Video courtesy of Encino Mom Productions

40 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh!!! So many good ideas here!! I love the whole shoe box thing!! Thanks for this guest post!!

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  2. Thank you! This mirrors my organizational style exactly. Use what'cha got and keep it out of a landfill!

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  3. I LOVE the vase filled with toilet paper! Doing that TODAY!

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  4. Great guest post. I love using what I already have. We re-use coffee tins for a lot of things, they're great for corralling and organizing the different tape we always seem to have on hand.

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  5. What an awesome post Jen. This was perfect timing for my own post where I reused shoe boxes for storage in my Laundry Room AND I made them pretty. If you want you can check out my post here. http://www.thedecorscene.blogspot.com/2012/03/diy-free-storage-project.html

    Katrina - thanks for some really great repurposing ideas. I now have more to look for in my home to use or reuse in this case and make my home organized and pretty all at the same time. Thanks for sharing. :)

    Thank you both for the awsome inspiration you have given me! :)

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  6. Thanks for the reminder to use what you have before you head to the store to buy more containers. This is a great philosophy that will save us money plus help to save the planet.

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  7. One of my personal favorite items to repurpose are copy paper boxes, and diaper boxes. I have several of them around the house, and I've even made some for friends and family. All you need is some spray paint, left over fabric and ribbon. My inspiration came from here: http://www.positivelysplendid.com/2011/02/lets-make-something-together-lined.html

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    1. Thanks for the link! I LOVE that idea! I'm doing that :)

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  8. Repurpose baby formula tins by covering them with decorative paper or fabric... I'm buying a lot of them lately : )

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  9. I *love* the box lids for drawer organizers! That is eco friendly, ethical (not another made in china by child slaves product), and budget friendly!...everything I love! :)

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  10. My favorite recent repurpose was taking small baking dishes and other random kitchen containers that we rarely use and using them to organize my kitchen drawers. Picture here: http://youngfamilyoldhouse.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/201/

    I also love to search craigslist and thrift stores before buying anything new, although sometimes target/container store can't be beat!

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  11. This is truly a great post - thank you!

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  12. GREAT IDEAS!!! I am totally in love with the shoebox in drawers! Although...I don't usually keep those...so I guess I'll have to go out and get more shoes in order to do it! haha!

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  13. The vase toilet paper holder is fantastic! If you want a few small boxes you can always ask a local retailer if you can have some after their stock is unpacked. I work at a clothing store and take home tons of the little boxes that our accessories and sunglasses come in. Otherwise they just get tossed out!

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  14. I really like the vase for toilet paper! It's a great idea. The reused lids/boxes reminds me of what I did last month in my kitchen :) I LOVE reusing what we would typically throw away. You really can turn garbage into something beautiful. It makes you appreciate the small things (and helps you save money).

    http://alexis-perron.blogspot.com/2012/02/bit-of-organizing.html

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  15. Great guest post - I am loving the different uses for vases! I have been reusing wonton soup containers to store various baking items (nuts, chocolate chips, etc.). To my delight, they have done a great job of keeping my brown sugar soft.

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  16. Love this post!!! Thanks for this! I love the ideas of re-using! I have so many ways I can organize reusing items! Thank you.

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  17. This was a great post! I have a blog post all ready to go for your link party tomorrow (if I can figure that out- it is my first!) and I think my sized to fit, recovered with scrap fabric cereal box containers fall into the green organizing category too!

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  18. I love the way she organized the hair brushes!! On the good ol' to-do list for tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!!

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  19. This post came at a great time! I just went to the thrift store yesterday after winning the battle in my head to not go to the container store. We are turning an unused closet into a pantry and I'm determined to do it without buying anything "new". My family started a Going Green challenge for this year, which we've been blogging about. Is it okay if I share your post? www.leavenothingbutyourfootprint.blogspot.com

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  20. I had a beautiful file folder box since, thanks to some organizing, I managed to get all of our files into the filing cabinet. It already had a place in our home office, and since I made room in the filing cabinet by taking out the copy paper (meaning I now needed a place for it), I tried putting the paper in the file box. Perfect fit, and it goes on the desk right next to the printer. Love!

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  21. My favorite of this is the shoe box dresser drawer organizers! Everything else I'd already seen before or thought of myself, but that is just absolutely brilliant! I just got rid of so many shoe boxes and now I am distraught! I could have had such gorgeous drawers! :(

    -Jess @ That's Sew Crafty

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  22. My grandmother used shoe box lids in her silverware drawers. Actually she used them everywhere. It was the way they thought during the depression...everything has a purpose, figure out what it is and waste nothing.

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  23. Great post! Love the vase for extra TP rolls and the fancy Hermes boxes for matches! Thanks for sharing this video, too!

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  24. I have also used shoe boxes recently, but these were my toddler's little shoe boxes, and I used them to corral and sort her small collections, like a few music toys or finger puppets. A simple re-covering, some labels, and they're ready to go and look streamlined on the shelf.

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  25. Great ideas, and a great attitude about keeping your organizing real! Thanks for the green inspiration!

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  26. have been using short square vases already in a repurposed way, but.... what a GREAT idea for the loo roll vase!!! would never have thought to do that!!! and I'm a florist, go figure why I haven't thought of it LOL.

    will be following this for sure as I'm SLOWLY decluttering and repurposing. Thanks again

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  27. I use the small rectangular boxes that checks come in for organizing makeup in the bathroom drawer. Both the lids and the bottoms work, they are the same depth. And, since they are a uniform size, it all looks nice and neat.

    I like to reuse candle jars too! I have been known to repurpose them for drinking glasses ...

    Also, if you purchase Crystal Light or similar drink mixes, they come in plastic containers. Remove the paper label and they are perfect for other things. I have batteries sorted by type and stored in old Crystal light cylinders.

    Pretty jam jars get cleaned up and used in my craft room for embellishments like brads or glitter or crystals for scrapbooking.

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  28. So many great repurposing/organizing ideas! I just posted a project repurposing an old tote I had laying around as a "survival kit" carrier for expecting moms. You can see it here below. I look forward to checking out the rest of your fab blog!
    http://heathertiger.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/for-the-expecting-mom-hospital-survival-kit/

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  29. Love this posting! Full Disclosure: I work with Operation Organization and Katrina is always coming up with great ideas for us to share with our clients! They are always so thrilled when we re-purpose items they already have. Make sure to check us out at www.operationorganization.com Thanks Katrina :)

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  30. I appreciate this post, I enjoy finding new uses for things I already own. Most "expert advice" seems like they expect you to throw everything you have out and buy it all new, so it matches which is too wasteful and too expensive. I also am inspired by the photos of the shirts organized in shoeboxes inside the drawers. My teenage daughter and I are going to have a little meeting about this! Thanks, great blog!

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  31. I'd love more of these repurposing ideas! They are wonderful!

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  32. I love your ideas! I love recycling old spaghetti sauce jars to organize also!
    http://empiricalproducts.blogspot.com/

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  33. My hubby's grandma uses empty butter tubs & Cool Whip tubs as "tupperware". I had some veggie oil that I needed to put somewhere (other than it's container for some reason) & used an empty, clean frosting container. Worked perfectly & no spillage.

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  34. I bought some place mats because I loved the fabric, but didn't really just how much of a hassle fabric place mats can be... At the same time, I needed to find a way to pretty-up my kitchen command center. I found that the place mats were a perfect fit for the metal rack I was using in my kitchen: http://www.elissalockhart.com/2012/02/organizing-beautifying-our-kitchen.html

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  35. Reading this post got me thinking.... I had 2 pairs of shoes (in boxes) set out for Goodwill. I donated the shoes today, and used the boxes to organize tshirts in my dresser. Right after, I got an email from my kids elementary school- one of the teachers needs shoe box lids for a project. All 3 pieces of these shoe boxes found a new, purposeful life!
    With a basement remodeling project underway, I'm going to challenge myself to re-use existing items instead of making a trip to my beloved Container Store. I've already painted the old door to use as a desk (with legs from an unused table), and plan to find other items around the house to keep the new pantry and other spaces neat.

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  36. Nice blog. You might like this cartoon about "getting organized". http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/cartoon_23.html

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