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Not just about alphabetizing the spice rack

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As a certified professional organizer, I become more and more aware that organizing is not just about alphabetizing the spice rack. As the the professional organizing industry continues its prominent media placement on TV shows and magazine covers, another movement, “eco or green” is becoming more and more mainstream. This eco-lifestyle trend is becoming more of a necessity than just an alternative lifestyle.  Complementing the organizing field, the eco-movement fits like a hand-in-glove with the organizing profession. Reduce, reuse, and recycle has always been the mantra of organizers, and many organizers already tout this eco philosophy; however, they fall short utilizing it to its full potential. What makes an “Eco-Organizer” stand out in the industry is one that will promote lifestyle changes that revolve around healthy eco- friendly products and behaviors.  Understanding consumer habits and what and why we buy is a passion of mine.

Organizers are a witness to the impact of consumer goods within our homes. If approached with a creative and realistic plan, the organizing industry can have a powerful effect on present and future consumer habits all across the world. What we buy and how we live is all connected.

When we change an individual we change a room
When we change a room we change a home
When we change a home we can change a family
When we change a family we can change a community
When we change a community, we can change the world.
People don’t just buy stuff; they assume responsibility for the stuff.

When I attended a NAPO conference several years ago and listened to our keynote speaker, Peter Walsh, explain in detail the story of the plastic bottle.  He explained that we might want to start examining our buying practices because they have incredible global ramifications. This really got me thinking that there must be a better way to take my business to the next level.

As an environmentally aware organizer, or eco-organizer, I teach clients that they are also responsible for their consumption patterns. These patterns not only have an impact on their home, but also on the planet. I believe that in the future, our organizing industry will be at the forefront of changing societies consumption behaviors. Currently, organizers tend to be very involved at the back end, after the damage is done, people call us in. In the future, organizers will have an increasing role at the front end, impacting our client’s consumer choices and habits.  Already, buying in bulk is a trend that is getting less and less attention, and we see the many benefits in terms of found storage and items no longer thrown away due to expired or unwanted goods.

Organizers teach our clients that organizing is a systematic process that builds new habits, and that daily lifestyle changes occur when we feel good about what we are doing. Getting our clients to adopt a deeper level of responsibility by introducing eco lifestyle changes can and does have direct global implications. This may not be the right approach for every client, but for those clients that resonate with the concept, it can bring about a greater respect for our industry.

One hurdle to get past our client’s mindset is the misguided notion that going green costs more and complicates one’s lifestyle. The greatest resistance I face in any session is resistance to change. I can help by showing my clients that by eliminating excess, not only with their physical clutter but also in electrical and water usage, money can be saved. They can wrap their heads around “what’s in it for me” a lot more than why it’s good for future generations. Approaching eco philosophy from this angle has generated a lot more interest.

One other misconception is that people think they will be giving up one’s lifestyle by going “green”. As an eco-organizer, it is my responsibility to promote that the change is not something they must do all at once, but as a process, very much akin to an adopting an orderly lifestyle. Small steps create big impacts. It is my greatest hope that in the future, the professional organizing industry can promote green in many shades, to meet our clients desire in adopting a more responsible future for generations to come.

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Guest Thursday, 22 June 2017

"I was a bit reluctant to hire an organizer to help me do what I believed I could do myself. It felt overly indulgent.

But to my surprise, having just one session with Eileen helped me to see that her services were invaluable. I needed someone to be witness to my choas and help me get myself back in order.

Organizing the outside of my life, really helped to calm down the inside. The most amazing change is that after six or so weeks, things still look neat and each item has a place. We started in my bathroom and now when I walk in, I don't have the overwhelming, 'How can I possible tame this stuff' feeling. Rather, I walk in and I sigh with relief!"

- Harriette Rovner Ferguson