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Blog: Simplify Your Life
Waste Not Want Not

As a Professional Organizer, I am (of course) entirely opposed to clutter and excess. I help my clients clean out for a living -- if you're not using it, let it go! Some people think clearing the decks means tossing a lot of stuff in the trash. But I am mortally offended at the core of my being by waste -- living in an affluent society does not give any of us the right to use up and throw away resources like there was no tomorrow!

It Just Makes Me So Mad!

\We were out at a restaurant the other night, and I happened to notice the party next to us ordering a ridiculous amount of food for that number of people -- the table was piled high with appetizers and main dishes and desserts that would choke a pig. I thought, "Well, they're hungry," and I went back munching my own dinner. But when these folks settled their bill and got up to leave, I glanced back over and saw enough food left on their plates to feed a starving village in Africa. Wink

This really made me mad! I mean, I know that they paid for it and had every legal right to do whatever they wanted with their meals. But it just made me sick to think how spoiled we Americans are -- apparently we have so much more than we need that we can allow perfectly good food to go to waste when people are starving (and not just far, far away in the third world, but folks in our own country!) Can you tell that my mother was a child of the Depression and I got the standard "clean your plate" lecture every night?

I ranted about this to my table-mates for a bit, and the resulting discussion revealed an even more disturbing example of waste. Our friend told us a story about his brother upgrading to a new big-screen HDTV. Evidently, it was just too much hassle for him to take the old television (still in good working condition) to Goodwill to donate it. He simply put it out on the curb for the trash to pick up! Can you believe it?? I hope, for his karma's sake, some garbage man took it home and is enjoying 167 channels of televisual entertainment even as I type!

Waste Not, Want Not

\While these are some of the more seriously offensive examples of waste I can think of, waste is not in any way limited to a plate full of food or an outdated piece of electronic equipment. I can't stand the blatant misuse of resources of any kind. That includes:

  • wasting stuff (its like Harrison Ford said in "The Mosquito Coast" -- "We eat when we're not hungry, drink when we're not thirsty. We buy what we don't need and throw away everything that's useful." -- we have a bad habit in this society of assuming that if we can't use it anymore, it must be trash -- Americans don't understand the concept of recycling beyond putting bottles and cans in a bin by the curb, and re-purposing items so they can have a second lifespan is a lot art everywhere except the west coast -- if you want some creative ideas for your discards, check out the "recycled art" movement in Oregon, with jewelry made from typewriter keys and belts crafted out of bicycle chains -- or visit Nitt Witt Ridge in Cambria, CA and see an entire house made of things other people threw away -- including a toilet seat picture frame!)
  • wasting money (whether they can afford it or not, people who spend cash on stupid crap that they don't actually need drive me up the wall -- Americans in particular are always discovering new and exciting ways to waste money, especially on modern "conveniences" like designer coffee and household gadgetry -- don't get me wrong, I enjoy a Starbucks as much as the next person, and I love my Vitamix like it was a family member -- but fast-food lunches every day, "I-don't-know-how-to-delay-gratification" credit card interest payments, and a mortgage you can't afford on a house that's bigger than you need  are what's killing our economy -- I also have no use for expenses caused by disorganization and inattention -- things like late fees that result from sticking a bill in a drawer until past its due date and overdraft charges that accrue because you didn't reconcile your bank statement -- I call these things "money leaks," and they are mostly just the result of lazy, unconscious spending)
  • wasting water (now that we're full-time RVers we use tremendously less water than we ever did in a house, and it's made me all the more aware of how much water the average American consumes -- 200+ gallons per day, per person, if you can believe it! -- and so much off that goes right down the drain for no reason -- leaving the faucet on while you brush your teeth -- flushing 7-9 gallons down the toilet to get rid of a tissue that could have just gone in the trash can -- filling swimming pools and watering lawns and running automatic dishwashers -- bleh!)
  • wasting electricity (another thing we use much less of in an Airstream is electricity -- our entire house can run off of two marine batteries or a single 15-amp household plug -- houses dwellers are always going to consume more power -- but so much of that is wasted by people leaving the lights on in an unoccupied room, turning the air down to 60 degrees in the summer and the heat up to 80 in the winter, and using an electrical gadget for every chore -- don't even get me started on electric leaf blowers and plug-in s'more cookers!)
  • wasting time (everyone out there loses track and finds an hour or two inexplicably missing now and again -- a little brain-dead downtime can be a good thing, but some people are chronic time-wasters and can't seem to ever get anything done during the day -- hey, I'll even cut these unfortunate souls a little slack, because time management is a skill that has to be learned -- what I will not tolerate are folks who waste OTHER people's time, especially mine! -- customer service reps that put you on hold for half the day, people who fail to call you back in a timely manner, doctors who keep you waiting for hours before your scheduled appointment, friends who say they'll meet you for a movie then show up 15 minutes into the previews -- unacceptable!)
  • wasting opportunities (I am, as I have openly admitted many times before, a chick with way too many irons in the fire -- but I just can't stand to watch an opportunity pass me by without taking advantage of it -- another quote, this one from John Irving in "The Hotel New Hampshire" -- "You take every opportunity given you in this world, even if you have too many opportunities. Because one day, the opportunities stop." -- I surely don't expect everyone else to run around like I do, attempting to fit five lifetimes into one -- but don't just sit there whining and wishing things were different when you have a million chances every day to change your circumstances -- either start paying attention to the opportunities around you, or shut up!)
wasting your talents (I know so many amazingly talented and creative people who aren't doing a blessed thing with their gifts, and do you know why? -- because they are trapped in crappy jobs that they don't enjoy, doing work they can't stand, for no other reason than to pay the bills -- well, if we would get better about not wasting stuff, not wasting money, not wasting time, and not wasting opportunities, maybe we could all be using our talents full time -- right livelihood, people! -- you need to be doing work that feeds your soul and not just your wallet -- what might you be willing to give up to have that? the big house? the expensive playthings? your TV time? come on -- I'm giving you a wake up call here!)

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posted on: 4/17/2012 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Simplify Your Life

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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