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Archive for March, 2010

top 5: moving boxes

I’m moving back to San Francisco this month (expect a URL and business name change soon) and since my life is full of packing and sorting and organizing boxes, my Top 5 this week is devoted to the same.

Dingbat Press Printable Moving Announcement

  1. These darling printable moving announcements almost make me happy to move. Head over to ‘Love. Obsess. Inspire.’ and click on “Free Printable Goodie” to download and print.
  2. Real Simple’s Moving Checklist saves my sanity when I start freaking out about EVERYTHING I NEED TO DO.
  3. Tapeswell, the purveyors of decorative packing tape, help make moving less…. blah.
  4. Plastic Loose Fill Council. Visit their site or call 800-828-2214 for the nearest packing-peanut drop spot.
  5. How to pack everything you own in one bag. I wish!
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In 2007, activist Annie Leonard wrote and narrated the animated mini-documentary called “The Story of Stuff” about the life-cycle of material goods. The documentary explains the environmental and social issues surrounding our over-consumption of “stuff” and how this cycle of consumption and disposal can’t be sustained indefinitely.

The documentary covers issues that I think about both as an environmentalist and a professional organizer, the film helped raise my sensitivity to the disposable nature of my belongings. I remember my grandfather wore the same sweaters for years, and my grandparents watched a television that was over 15-years old. The film made me wonder why we don’t buy things to last for YEARS anymore? Why aren’t things made to last? Today, it seems that we buy things to fulfill whatever our need is for that particular moment. Once the moment passes, the item is disposed and nobody thinks about where it goes. Only to be hit by the next moment and our need to consume more. Again and again, the cycle continues.

What’s most concerning is electronic waste. Nobody wants an old-generation iPod and who cares where it goes anyway? With our amazing technological advances in the last decade, we have more electronic waste now than ever before, and the number of recyclers of discarded computers, monitors, printers and cell phones has exploded in North America. Unfortunately, many of these “recyclers” are hiding under the “recycling” name and illegally shipping e-waste to developing countries.

The dirty secret is that our electronic waste (e-waste) is exported to China, India or Africa. Developing countries have become the junk yard for the United States. The 20-minute PBS Frontline Documentary “Digital Dumping Ground”, documents the rampant dumping of toxic waste.

Luckily there are groups such as the Basel Action Network (BAN). Created in 1994, BAN has a list of “e-Steward” qualified electronics recyclers— a group of industry leaders that have 4 key principles:

  1. No dumping of toxic e-waste in developing countries

  2. No dumping in local landfills or incinerators (including waste-to-energy operations)

  3. No use of prison labor to process e-waste

  4. No unauthorized release of private data

From bottled water to computer monitors, it’s important to think about the life-span of your belongings. It’s important to purchase things that serve a purpose in your life; buy items that are going to last longer than a moment; and be conscious of how your “stuff” is disposed. Ask yourself: Can someone else benefit from your unwanted items? If so, donate your unused electronics to a local charity, school, or shelter. The idea is to flow your unused items back into the community. Ten years ago, the average lifespan of a computer was six years. Today it’s two years. Is “being on the cutting edge of technology” worth it?

The solution is three-fold:

Thoughtful consumption; reuse; and eco-friendly recycling.

These are the simple mantras we CAN and SHOULD be religiously practicing in our daily lives.

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top 5: knitting

Spratters And Jayne Design

I started knitting six years ago after taking a class in San Francisco at the Urban Knitting Studio. It was great to learn after talking about it for close to a decade. Unfortunately, life gets in the way and I haven’t knitted in two years! With this lengthy hiatus, I’m really excited about getting back into it. As my previous post talked about “BALANCE”, I believe it’s important to replace the daily grind with a creative interest. I’ve been totally awe-inspired by a few projects and I wanted to share them as my Top 5. They’ve whole-heartedly inspired me and hopefully they’ll inspire you to break out the knitting needles again– or pick up the craft for the first time.

  1. Spratters & Jayne. The cowls and lapels are to die for! This is my next project; a beautiful chunky knit lapel.
  2. Wool and the Gang. The Wool and the Gang site was recommended to me by a friend of mind in Los Angeles, and the instructional videos are the best I’ve ever seen. Her accent and the music are so charming.
  3. Who would have thought to knit your own cleaning tools? Pretty dang brilliant, if I do say so myself. Using scrap yarn to knit a Swiffer cover. Or if crocheting is your thing, this blogger created Swiffer sock covers and dish scrubbers (Japanese Tawashi). According to the site, the Swiffer covers work better than the cloth covers you can buy and they’re totally washable/reusable. Anything that involves less waste is always a good idea.
  4. Knit graffiti. The world can always be a prettier place.
  5. Another beautifully amazing inspiration are the big, chunky knits from Gile Deacon’s AW07 line. Where can I get yarn like that?!

Plus 1: Of course, you have to keep all your knitting supplies and needles organized and ready to go when inspiration strikes you.

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daily routines

Organization is something I’ve been doing since I was young. Over the years, I’ve had close friends poke fun at me when I decide to stay home and organize my filing cabinet rather than going out to dinner with them. For the most part, I try not to let my organization obsession take over my life, but organization is such a part of my psyche that I have to be reeled in by loved ones and reminded to go out and enjoy a movie every now and then. The key to anything is balance. The balance of work/play/life/relaxation. Balance is a challenge and keeping everything in your life moving forward and interesting is what I strive to achieve day in and day out. I always find it fascinating how other people organize their days and their time. If you’re interested in how Stephen King spends his mornings then you’ll love the web site, Daily Routines as much as I do.

Some of my favorites from the site include:

My routine varies slightly from day-to-day depending on if I’m organizing clients or doing business work from home. For the most part I wake up between 7:30-8am and make coffee in the french press with lots of sugar and milk. Coffee is a new thing for me. I just started drinking it this past year and I gotta say it’s been a life changing addition to my schedule. I’m surprised I never understood the powers of coffee before, but… NOW I UNDERSTAND COFFEE PEOPLE! While I’m drinking coffee I check my calendar, email, twitter, and teuxdeux for the days tasks. Around 9am, I get ready and start the day. Lots of work happens. In the late afternoon, I take my dog for a long walk around the neighborhood. At 5pm, I’m back on the computer. I’m enamored with web sites, so I probably spend way too much time researching and seeking out new things to obsess over, so that’s pretty much how I end my day, by spending an hour or so back on the web. At 7pm, it’s time with my husband whether we’re watching our favorite television shows– Lost and The Office– or experimenting with some random recipe I’ve found online. The day ends around 11pm, which is my favorite part of the evening, being in my pajamas and laying in the most comfortable bed in the universe. *sigh*

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EcoBags Produce Bags

  1. Eco produce bags. I’m pretty religious about bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. The consumption of plastic bags at my house is almost ‘zero’. However, I’m not happy to report that I still use those pesky plastic produce bags from time to time. When it comes to getting fruits and veggies from point A to B, plastic produce bags do a good job of keeping produce separated as well as keeping them together. I do reuse plastic produce bags and I recycle them, but my goal is to remove them from my shopping trip altogether. I was happy to find EcoBags to help me in that process. The Produce Bag Set comes with three different sized bags (small, medium, and large), so you can keep your potatoes together with other potatoes and separated from fragile fruits. Made of unbleached cotton, these bags are lightweight, easy to care for and will help eliminate your reliance on plastic produce bags when you’re at the market.
  2. Reusable totes. “Chic, inexpensive and compact, Envirosax eco-friendly shopping bags carry the message of re-use to a world ready to embrace a brighter ecological future.”
  3. Grocery list. ZipList is a free web-based service that lets you manage your grocery list in one central place from any web browser or mobile phone. Creating a shopping list has been widely recognized as one way to save money at the grocery store. By sticking to a list, you’ll reduce impulse purchases and keep from picking up items that already fill the pantry at home. Store your shopping list online and share it with family members, so they can add their own items or check off items from the list that have been purchased to avoid duplication. You can even assign importance to an item so if you have a limited amount of time or cash, you can pick up just the critical items.
  4. Shopping cart. Living in the city, walking to the grocery store and lugging groceries home is a part of life. Even when living in “car-loving” Los Angeles, I often walk to the grocery store instead of driving. Foldable shopping carts are up for the task and are great for farmer’s market and flea market trips.
  5. Say “NO” to bottled water. On your next trip to Costco or any mega supermarket, take a look around at people’s shopping carts carrying cases of water. It’s ridiculous to see people wasting money on bottled water. I see families of five or more buying multiple flats of water. I guess the bottled water industry did a great job of making us afraid of the water that comes out of our faucet. What people don’t realize is that city water is regulated far more intensely than any of the bottled water companies. The Environmental Protection Agency oversees municipal water quality, while the Food and Drug Administration monitors bottled water; in some cases, EPA codes are more stringent. In a nutshell, you’re wasting your hard-earned money if you’re buying bottled water. Not to mention an accumulation of plastic waste. If you don’t like the flavor or taste of your city water– the “off” taste of tap water is chlorine– if you refrigerate it in a container with a loose-fitting lid, the chlorine taste will be gone overnight.

    And if you’re buying bottled water because you love the portability, I would suggest Klean Kanteen containers. I use them for work, the car, roadtrips, the gym. I like the design of the Klean Kanteen bottles because the wide opening makes them easy to clean and they’re made from food-grade stainless steel– a metal superior in both strength and safety that contains no harmful chemicals or toxins.

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