Monday, December 21, 2009

Whatcha gonna do with all this new stuff?

I was shopping the other day and glancing in carts of other shoppers. Wrapping paper, gifts, decorations, cards, party food, winter wear....Then the thought crossed my mind-
What are they going to do with all this new stuff?
Sure, the holidays fill our lives with joy, but they come with a large side order of new stuff.

I watch my clients stare at piles of paper and mail with fear, disgust, and anxiety. This month is filling their mailboxes with catalogs and greeting cards. Newspapers are fat with ads. Looming on the horizon is the tax-related documents of January. Recycle, my friends! Toss those LL Bean and Coldwater Creeks catalogs and Best Buy ads in the recycling bin. Enjoy the sentiments in the cards and letters, then decide to either recycle the paper ones, toss the glittery ones, and save (or toss) photos in a box labeled with the year. Make a folder or large manila envelop for the incoming tax docs. Dealing with a couple of inches of paper each day is way better than taming a paper mountain-that-ate-your-kitchen-counter later on.

Grab another envelop for the gift cards and monetary ones too or better yet put them in your wallet. There is nothing sadder that finding these after they have expired.

Be ready for Christmas morning by laying out scissors to wrestle the plastic sealed presents, and a couple bags- one for recycling and one for trash. A lawn/leaf paper bag is a good size and recyclable itself to tame the paper. Gift wrap is recyclable as are the boxes. Reuse what you can next year, of course! Keep an eye out for manuals for electronics and appliances
Write on cords with a white or silver marker to remember what belongs to what. We want to keep these cords from ending up in that box, that every home has, that is filled with the misfit cords and cables. Most of these belonged to gadgets that have long ago left the building.

Make room for new toys by cleaning playrooms and donate ruthlessly. It's a great lesson for kids and gives you a chance to purge the broken pieces-parts, the incomplete puzzles, and things that are no longer age appropriate. Your future son or daughter-in-law will be relieved if you don't save everything your child ever owned.

May your season be filled with love and wonder, your recycling can and hearts be overflowing and your new year be clutter-free.

For ideas on reducing catalog clutter, go to