Tag Archive for: recycle

Colorful child's drawing of flowers

What To Do With Children’s Art Work

Helpful Organizer BlogOne thing many parents have a difficult time getting rid of is the things their children have made. Some items are cherished treasures, like a drawing that showcases their personality, their first hand-made Mother’s Day card, or a precious clay bowl. Other items are less meaningful, but are equally important to the giver. That causes problems, right? These things have a high sentimental value. I understand that, but we can’t keep everything. You know we can’t. So, what goes and what gets kept?

Setting limits is a great way to minimize what is kept. A good limit is to have one ‘keep bin’ per child. This one bin will hold all the art treasures that are being kept from that one child. Label this bin and use it to store the creations each child makes. Set some guidelines on what is kept. For example keep only those items that significantly highlight your child’s personality and talents. Go through the bin yearly to reevaluate and weed out items.

Another way to minimize what is kept is to re-purpose and reuse. Below are some creative ways to do this.

  1. Scan or photograph art work and use several images to create family calendars. Let the originals go after the calendar is created.
  2. Have a gallery wall were you display art work for one month then let it go.
  3. Use scanned images of the art work as a screen saver on your desktop computer. Share who made the piece, when they made it, and what they have to say about their creation.
  4. Separate art work by season and save a few special pieces to put up with other seasonal decorations.
  5. Take photos of the art work with the artist and scrapbook the images with details.
  6. Add the art work to a digital frame or tablet and showcase at their birthday parties and holiday gatherings.
  7. Frame a few of the artist’s favorite pieces in a shadow box for one year. Then add another piece right over the previous year until the shadow box is full. Then store in a keep bin (listed above) or let it go.

It may be difficult to make decisions on what creations to keep, but your child will thank you for only holding onto one ‘keep bin’.

©September 2016  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer  All Rights Reserved

one chair


Busines card colors
Side Notes:

***    Organizing class are starting in September. You can obtain more details on my website. If you’d like to attend a class please contact the class location directly. Hope to see you in class.
***   Want to know more about Minimalism? Learn from two experts, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus.
***  I’m looking forward to bringing the New England chapter of the National
Association of Professional Organizers to School on Wheels in August to volunteer.
***  Question:  What does minimalism mean to you? Please share  your answer.
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Hi  ,

The heat of summer is here. Guess who else is heating up? My inner minimalist is on fire. During the month of June I played the 30-Day Minimalist Game with my husband, and we were both winners.

What Does Minimalism Mean?

To me minimalism is the act of buying less, having less stuff, and getting rid of excess. After bringing the Minimalist Documentary to North Attleboro in May, my husband and I decided to see what it would be like to embrace minimalism. We decided to play the 30-Day Minimalism Game to see if we could get rid of as many things as the game encouraged us to. We also wanted to see how little we could spend in those same 30 days. We learned several things while we embraced minimalism.

First of all, we learned to look closely at all of the things in our space. Knowing that we were going to be getting rid of a lot of stuff, we looked at everything. We made decisions on things we hadn’t touched or used in years. There were several things we would not have thought about getting rid of if it wasn’t for the game. It’s so easy to get comfortable in our surroundings that we don’t realize how much we don’t use. Getting rid of this excess stuff made me happy.

Secondly, the game created some urgency to take action. We needed to fix things or get rid of them. So, things that had been waiting to be fixed for a while were fixed or gotten rid of. We needed to read or recycle. Papers that were waiting to be read needed to be read or recycled. Books that were piling up needed to be read or donated. We needed to mend or donate. Clothing that required some mending, needed to be fixed or donated. Getting rid of this stagnate stuff made me happy.

Finally, not making purchases for a month helped us realize we are lazy cooks. We would succumb to the temptation to eat out or get take out way too much. We’re too tired and there is nothing good in the house were common excuses. We decided to change this. We looked through our recipes and picked a bunch to try. We bought new food and ingredients in the grocery store. We’re still working on this, but I’m happy with our progress so far.

The 30 Day Minimalism Game was very interesting. I’d recommend that everyone give it a try. I’d be happy to talk with you more about our experiences. Here are a few more blog articles I’ve written on the topic.

A Paper Minimalist – Not
Stuff Be Gone

Share your thoughts on minimalism with me.

Recycle Resource

Finding new ways to recycle, for myself and my clients, makes me happy. Everyone is more motivated to get rid of something when they know it is going to someone who will really use it.

This is why I was especially happy to find a place to donate my unwanted craft items. The Craft Room recycles craft items. They use them in their classroom, sell them in their thrift store, and offer them for use in their workshop space. They accept paper, fabric, yarn, floral supplies, needlework, artist’s medium, and more. What an ingenious idea. Check out their website.


Janine Cavanaugh, CPO®
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give & hands

Give – It’s Worth It!

Helpful Organizer BlogHave you ever decided that you’re ready to give something away, only to find that no one will take it?  This happened to a class attendant of mine who wanted to give a pull-out-couch to someone who was in need of one. Unfortunately, this proved harder than she anticipated. When she contacted the donation locations she knew in her community, no one wanted it. They said it was too big, too heavy, and not worth reselling.  She became frustrated, and called me to ask for more options for donation. I gave her a few recommendations that I knew, and wished her good luck. A few days later I received a second call from her. She had no luck with my recommendations, because she was outside their pick up area. How frustrating. What now? She asked me for more options. Luckily, I was able to provided her with a few more ideas, one being the local Boy Scouts. I knew they were having a big yard sale soon, and were looking for items. Success at last. They took the couch from her. It was time consuming and frustrating, but the couch was out of her house and on it’s way to finding a new home, thanks to the Boy Scouts.

A similar situation happened to a client of mine who was ready to say good-bye to a wheelchair that she was no longer using. She wanted it to go to an organization that would donate it to someone who really needed it. Unfortunately, this proved harder than she or I anticipated. After a quick on-line search for donations options, we had a full page of possibilities. That was great. We were optimistic. That was the easy part. Once we started calling the donation options we didn’t have as much success. We made a total of 15 calls. Here are some of the responses we got. The Muscular Dystrophy Association couldn’t take it because they only accept chairs that they can service, and they couldn’t service her high-end wheelchair. The Disabled American Veterans did not have anyone who serviced MA or RI. The local VFW Post had no way to re-distribute the chair. Chariots of Hope only worked in CT. Power Chair Recyclers of NE would refurbish it then sell it. She wanted to give it away, not sell it. We were running out of options? Would we ever find someone to donate this chair to? We didn’t give up. We kept calling. Eventually, we found a good option. The Masonic Lodge of RI had a Medical Equipment Center that would pick up the chair, clean it up, and pass it on to someone in need for a small fee. We both agreed it was worth the time and effort, especially since someone in need would be getting a very good wheelchair.

Giving stuff away isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. I’d encourage you to take the extra effort to give, because someone in need will be very grateful that you did. If you’re in need of donation options, please contact me. I’d be happy to share any resources I have.

©August 2016  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved

give dice

Stuff Be Gone

Helpful Organizer BlogA game helped my husband and me get rid of 930 things. We played the 30-Day Minimalism Game in June 2016. Deciding what stuff to get rid of was the first step. Figuring out where to get rid of the stuff was the second step. Physically removing the stuff from our house was the third step.  Want to know where it went?

We were givers. Our goal was to give the stuff away, not throw it in the trash. Five things out of 930 went in the trash. The rest of the stuff was reusable. So we gave it away.

We gave to family and friends. We didn’t just unload our stuff on them. We made a point of asking if they wanted the stuff, before we gave it to them. My sister was happy to accept a small framed photo of her and her son, that had been sitting on my shelf for years. My friend enjoyed looking at the clothes and jewelry I was getting rid of. She took a few shirts and a pair of earrings. My sister, who has 3 small children, gladly accepted an unopened pack of washable markers.

We gave to local causes. Our local library was collecting for their annual books sale. We donated several books and DVDs. We also gave several books to the school where my husband teaches. We dropped off several pairs of eyeglasses to the local Lion’s Club. We gave unopened toiletries to the New Hope shelter.

We donated to resale stores. We dropped off a car load of items to Hometown Savers. We made a trip to the Habitat for Humanities ReStore to donate an old door and a few old tools. We gave craft items, that I wasn’t going to use, to The Craft Room. We gave a bunch of clothes and household items to Savers.

We recycled. We recycled some old phone books and a bunch of paper. We recycled broken and outdated electronics to Indie Cycle.

We consigned. We used Chic2Chic for our clothing consignment. We used The Thrifty Witch for our household consignment.

We offered items for free. We put old hand weights, a hose, and an unused shelf out by the side of the road with a free sign. They were picked up within hours.

We got rid of 930 things. You can too! We know it takes time and effort. Use these resources and options. They will help.

©July 2016   Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®   All Rights Reserved


Calling Mom

Sharing Organizing News With My Mom

Helpful Organizer BlogWhen I saw that it was my Mom on my caller-ID this morning, I smiled to myself. I always enjoy hearing from her. It’s nice to chat, listen to her current news, and share my own. The news I shared with her today was about the 30-Day Minimalism Game that my husband and I are participating in for the month of June. I explained that the game is played by getting rid of one thing on the first day of the month, two things on the second day of the month, three things on the third day, and so on. Whoever can go the longest and get rid of the most things, wins. She was amazed that we would play such a game, and impressed that we were still at it on day 15.

I shared with my Mom how we got inspired to play the game after bringing the film Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things to a local theater, and viewing it with 80 other interested viewers. It was an inspiring film that moved my husband and I into action. As of this date, we have each gotten rid of 120 things. So far it hasn’t been too difficult for either of us, but the game instructions warned us that it gets much more difficult after two weeks , which is now. (I’ll be writing more on the subject when the month is over.)

My Mom shared that she has been cleaning out and getting rid of stuff also. She mentioned that she got rid of some extra bed pillows that she wasn’t using. She also went through her wardrobe and got rid of some clothes that she doesn’t wear. The last thing she mentioned was donating her old greeting cards to St. Judes for recycling. This made me smile even more.

It’s always wonderful to get a phone call from my Mom, but it’s even more special when she shares her organizing stories. As a Professional Organizer I can’t helped but get pumped up when I hear stories about other people organizing and cleaning out their spaces. If you have a story to tell please share it with me.

©June 2016  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®   All Rights Reserved