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January 13, 2015
Do you have a clutter problem in your home? A cluttered home can strip your time, energy and resources. If your countertops are covered in “organized” piles, you have trouble shutting your overstuffed drawers or you have to create a pathway through your basement, you may have a clutter problem.
Not only is clutter an unattractive décor element, it is also a safety hazard (e.g. trips, falls, fire) and encourages insects and rodents to make themselves at home. If you find yourself hanging onto items you might need one day or simply have not de-cluttered your home in a long time, check out the these tips to keep your home clutter-free.
1. Purge regularly and ruthlesslyAt least twice a year, go through all storage spaces in your home with a critical eye, including closets, cabinets, drawers, shelves, attic, garage and basements and put everything you haven’t used for more than a year in a pile. Face it—if you’ve never worn the black skirt you bought five years ago, you are not going to wear it now. Toss it in the not-needed pile. The same goes for all unread books, old electronics, broken toys, etc.
Transfer items you want to keep, but do not use often, like seasonal décor and clothing, into eco-friendly storage bins made of cloth, cardboard or bamboo.
2. Reuse and recycleBefore tossing out your entire not-needed pile, take a minute to find out whether any items can be repurposed. For example, your old t-shirts can be converted into a stylish grocery bag or a cozy rug with a little time and effort. Or those tiny Mason jars could be turned into cute tea-light holders. Be sure that you follow through with any projects, so that these items don’t end up in your next not-needed pile.
As you come across items that cannot be reused or donated, move them to the trash pile. Remember, many items cannot be put into the regular trash, but need to be recycled or taken to a special facility, like batteries, small electronics, paint and cleaning chemicals.
3. Sell or donateAny items in your not-needed pile that are in good condition should be sold or donated. Is your pile taller than your refrigerator? Consider holding a yard sale or calling Purple Heart to pick up the pile.
4. Make it a lifestyle choiceKeeping your house free of clutter is easy if you make it a daily habit. A once-a-year cleaning spree will not keep your house clutter free for an entire year. Maintaining a clutter-free house is a continuous process that takes time, effort and commitment. Add these steps to your daily habits:
Sort the mail as soon as you bring it in, and put all flyers, envelopes and promotional catalogs that you don’t need directly into the recycle bin. Cut down on all paper bills and bank statements. You are not only saving trees by saying no to paper, but also reducing the amount of paper that crosses your threshold.
While shopping for your monthly groceries, choose items that are locally made and have the least packaging. This cuts down on plastic waste and bypasses the energy and resources utilized for shipping and transporting items.
Enlist your family’s help. Ask your children to follow the “one-in, one-out rule” with toys. For every new toy that they buy, they have to donate one to Goodwill.
Set aside 10 minutes every day to go through the most trouble-prone areas in your home and make it clutter-free.
5. Plan, plan, planProper planning is the key to organized, clutter-free living. Think twice before buying anything new – do you really need it? How often are you going to use it? Where are you going to store it? Will you be able to care for it and maintain it? These are but a few questions you should ask yourself before making any new purchases or ahem, adding clutter to your house.
Kurt Jacobson is a surfing enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 10 times in the past 7 years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he's not out shredding waves he writes about homes for househunter.co.
March 19, 2014
March 16-22, 2014 is National Poison Prevention Week! As adults, it’s often easy to avoid poisoning with a little common sense. But how safe are children and pets in your home?
In 2012, poison control centers received more than 3.4 million calls—that’s one call every 8 seconds! According to the American Association of Poison Centers, the poisoning of children under 6 years of age accounts for almost 50% of these calls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that every day more than 300 children in the United States ages 0 to 19 are treated in emergency rooms and two of those children will die as a result of poisoning.
Most poisoning emergencies are preventable. Read below for prevention tips and download the room-by-room checklist to poison-proof your home.
Post the nationwide poison control center phone number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every telephone in your home and program it into your cell phone. You can call the poison control center 24/7 if you think a child has been poisoned and they are awake and alert. Call 911 if you suspect poisoning and your child has collapsed or is not breathing.
Read all warnings and follow the directions on the label when giving medicines to children.
Safely dispose of unused, unneeded or expired medications, vitamins and supplements. To dispose of medicines, mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter and throw them away.
Never leave medications, pesticides and other household chemical products unattended when you are using them.
Never transfer pesticides or household chemical products to non-labeled containers.
Never reuse empty chemical containers, even if you thoroughly washed the container.
Seal products after each use and store out of children’s reach in a locked cabinet.
Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gases.
If you use mouse or rat poison, make sure the bait stations are tamper-resistant.
Before applying pesticides (inside or outside the home) remove children, pets and toys. Read the label to determine when it is safe to return to the area.
Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector one each level of your home.
Have your home and child tested for lead.
Download this checklist for a list of steps that can help parents identify sources of household product dangers in the home. As you conduct this room-by-room inspection, get down to a child’s level so no potential hazards go unnoticed.
Sources: CDC, EPA