The Eco-Minded Mama Podcast

Decluttering and Finding Yourself (w/ Pro Organizer, Claudia Winkler)

May 06, 2022 Katie Season 2 Episode 12
Decluttering and Finding Yourself (w/ Pro Organizer, Claudia Winkler)
The Eco-Minded Mama Podcast
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The Eco-Minded Mama Podcast
Decluttering and Finding Yourself (w/ Pro Organizer, Claudia Winkler)
May 06, 2022 Season 2 Episode 12
Katie

Send Katie a Text Message sharing questions or encouragement about the show! :)

Is this you? Maybe you look around your home and you feel a sense of chaos rather than peace and calm. Maybe you and your partner are moving in together and finding space for the new combination of things is proving to be challenging. Maybe you feel weighed down by gifts you've been keeping out of guilt because you don't want to hurt the person who gave them to you. Maybe your family has recently lost a loved one, or you're moving your 90-year-old aunt into assisted living, and your family is trying to process what to do with 60+ years of stuff... Whatever your situation, this is for you. 

Claudia Winkler, Professional Organizer and Founder of WOW! Organized! LLC, joins Katie Kurpanek, Eco-Living Coach and Podcast Host, to inspire and equip you with the tools you need to create a living space that embodies who you truly are. As we are discussing becoming more conscious consumers in this season, Claudia beautifully addresses the full life-cycle of our items: from how to mindfully bring things into our home, to making the most of each item, and then finally considering how to responsibly and sustainably declutter when that time has come. Claudia's work involves so much more than simply organizing, however. She supports people to not only find a home for their things, but to find themselves in the process. 


Additional Resources:

  • My blog post on how to donate items responsibly (April 2020)
  • If you want to shop online with KindNest and support my business in the process, please use my affiliate link here! You can use the code "THATMINIMALLIFE" to receive 15% off your purchase!

As a perk to becoming a patron of the podcast (or a client of mine for coaching), you will receive exclusive discounts to over a dozen businesses, including Claudia's WOW! Organized! services, The Happy Beetle, and Ridwell! 

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This show is brought to you by listener support, and I'm sending a huge shout-out to these patrons for making it happen: Elizabeth R, Nancy K, Sarah W, Jodi S, Julia B, Liliana S, Karyn W, Linda M, Detlef K, and Kelly K!
To become a patron and receive all the perks of this community, visit www.patreon.com/allthingssustainable and join for as low as $3/month!
-------
To learn more with your host and Eco-Living Coach, Katie Kurpanek, visit www.thatminimallife.com for blog posts and personalized coaching info!
Instagram: @that.minimal.life
Email: katie.thatminimallife@gmail.com
-------
TRANSCRIPTS FOR EACH EPISODE can be found here: https://allthingssustainable.buzzsprout.com
-------
More about WOW! Organized! LLC:
https://woworganized.com/
Call (720) 273-5693  or e-mail  Claudia@WowOrganized.com 
Fi

Support the Show.

Ready for more guidance right now?? Visit www.ecomindedmama.com to download your free guide to help you save $2,000 hiding in your kitchen, plus a bunch of other resources!

Follow us on Instagram & TikTok @ecomindedmama

Show Notes Transcript

Send Katie a Text Message sharing questions or encouragement about the show! :)

Is this you? Maybe you look around your home and you feel a sense of chaos rather than peace and calm. Maybe you and your partner are moving in together and finding space for the new combination of things is proving to be challenging. Maybe you feel weighed down by gifts you've been keeping out of guilt because you don't want to hurt the person who gave them to you. Maybe your family has recently lost a loved one, or you're moving your 90-year-old aunt into assisted living, and your family is trying to process what to do with 60+ years of stuff... Whatever your situation, this is for you. 

Claudia Winkler, Professional Organizer and Founder of WOW! Organized! LLC, joins Katie Kurpanek, Eco-Living Coach and Podcast Host, to inspire and equip you with the tools you need to create a living space that embodies who you truly are. As we are discussing becoming more conscious consumers in this season, Claudia beautifully addresses the full life-cycle of our items: from how to mindfully bring things into our home, to making the most of each item, and then finally considering how to responsibly and sustainably declutter when that time has come. Claudia's work involves so much more than simply organizing, however. She supports people to not only find a home for their things, but to find themselves in the process. 


Additional Resources:

  • My blog post on how to donate items responsibly (April 2020)
  • If you want to shop online with KindNest and support my business in the process, please use my affiliate link here! You can use the code "THATMINIMALLIFE" to receive 15% off your purchase!

As a perk to becoming a patron of the podcast (or a client of mine for coaching), you will receive exclusive discounts to over a dozen businesses, including Claudia's WOW! Organized! services, The Happy Beetle, and Ridwell! 

-------
This show is brought to you by listener support, and I'm sending a huge shout-out to these patrons for making it happen: Elizabeth R, Nancy K, Sarah W, Jodi S, Julia B, Liliana S, Karyn W, Linda M, Detlef K, and Kelly K!
To become a patron and receive all the perks of this community, visit www.patreon.com/allthingssustainable and join for as low as $3/month!
-------
To learn more with your host and Eco-Living Coach, Katie Kurpanek, visit www.thatminimallife.com for blog posts and personalized coaching info!
Instagram: @that.minimal.life
Email: katie.thatminimallife@gmail.com
-------
TRANSCRIPTS FOR EACH EPISODE can be found here: https://allthingssustainable.buzzsprout.com
-------
More about WOW! Organized! LLC:
https://woworganized.com/
Call (720) 273-5693  or e-mail  Claudia@WowOrganized.com 
Fi

Support the Show.

Ready for more guidance right now?? Visit www.ecomindedmama.com to download your free guide to help you save $2,000 hiding in your kitchen, plus a bunch of other resources!

Follow us on Instagram & TikTok @ecomindedmama

Katie Kurpanek:

You're listening to all things sustainable, where we unpack topics related to sustainable living, as well as how to apply specific actions to your own life. I'm your eco living coach and podcast host, Katie Kurpanek. Let's jump in. Hey, everybody, welcome back to the show. And if you're brand new, then welcome for the first time. I am so glad that you are all here. And I'm really excited for today's episode. I know I always say that. But today's guest is really just a wealth of knowledge. And it was such a fun conversation. So in this season, we have been talking about how to become more conscious consumers. And if you missed any of the previous episodes, you'll definitely want to go back and listen to them. They cover so many different options for you to align your shopping habits with your personal ethics and values. And each guest is just wonderful. Today I had the privilege of talking to professional organizer Claudia Winkler with Wow organized LLC, Claudia with she her pronouns is a pro at taking a chaotic space and turning it into a place that makes you feel joyful and peaceful and calm. And really, she does so much more than simply organizing in the process, which she's going to get into in this episode, she walks us through the full lifecycle of the items that we bring into our home. So she addresses the thoughts, the whole process behind our intentions of what we bring into our home, and really how it goes so much deeper than just simply shopping. And then of course, when we have things in our home, she talks about how to make the most of it, she has a lot of great tips and hacks for this. And then of course, we spend the bulk of our time focusing on when that item has come to the end of its lifecycle with you how could it responsibly and sustainably be decluttered or you know, given away or passed on from your home. So it's spring, it feels like the perfect time to do a sort of spring cleaning themed episode. And Claudia is just full of tons of little eco hacks and genius ideas for how to do this. She also brings the whole art of organizing and conscious consumption to a deeply meaningful and personal level, I think you're really going to enjoy today's conversation. So we're gonna go ahead and dive right in. But one last note, if you are a patron of this podcast, or you are a client of mine with coaching, just a reminder that you get a bunch of exclusive discounts to a bunch of people, business owners, many of whom I've already had on this podcast, and Claudia is one of them. So if you're interested in her professional organizing services, she can meet with you virtually or in person in the Denver area of Colorado, I have a specific discount code that I believe will get you 10% off. I'll double check that but I'll link it in the episode description. So again, if you are a client of mine or a patron of the podcast, you will get that exclusive discount. All right, I hope you enjoy today's episode. Claudia, I am so happy to have you here on the podcast with me. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to share your expertise in like organization. And you know, decluttering and it's spring, so I feel like this is a really good time for a spring cleaning episode.

Claudia Winkler:

Absolutely, absolutely. Everybody. The phone is ringing off the hook.

Katie Kurpanek:

Right? Yeah, no, I think this is gonna be really beneficial, like beyond just kind of living sustainably, which is of course, the aspect we're coming into this from like, you know, decluttering but how do you do that responsibly? And how do you like, think more intentionally about what you bring into your house. But I think for anybody tuning in, whether they're consciously thinking about sustainability or not, it's like, spring cleaning, and organizing your home is something that most of us feel is necessary to do at some point. So I think we're gonna have a lot of fun. I mentioned a little bit about you to, you know, my listeners in like the introduction of the episode, but if you could just tell us a little bit about like, who you are, and, you know, what are you passionate about? And what what led you to become a professional organizer?

Claudia Winkler:

Oh, my gosh, I have, I have always loved helping and making a positive impact with my time. So I came out to Colorado to finish my MBA right climb that corporate ladder, make a lot of money. And for whatever reason I get got sucked into the nonprofit world and never looked back and working together with other people like minded people that want to make a positive impact on our planet or whatever the mission is. And giving back just always excited me always interested in me, you know, not just the, Not, Not that there's anything wrong with money. I love money. Great. And you can you can do things with it, not necessarily buying more and more and more stuff, because that didn't appeal to me. But making memories, right having experiences. So anyways, so then I did that for 20 years. And when I went home one year to for Christmas, my dad had gotten sick. And it happened really quickly. So I quit my job to help take care of him until he passed. And then I started helping my mom, as she started going through the house realizing, wow, we've been in this house for 50 years, there's a lot of stuff. And I don't want your kids to have to deal with this. So I need to start getting rid of things. And then while I was helping her with that process, other people started asking me for help. Whether it was, Oh, we're merging homes, and we have too much stuff. And there's no sense to it. And my boyfriend can't put his stuff anywhere, because there's no room for it. Or I'm downsizing. And I have a whole garage full of stuff. And I don't know what to do with it. And I didn't want to go back to a full time job while my mom was still alive, because I didn't know how long she had. So I said, Wow, I think this organizing thing is a real, real thing. It was right when Marie Kondos book came out. And I thought to myself, wow, people will you know, people really need the service for so many different reasons. And again, I like helping people I like working together with people to make something positive happen. I can do it back east, I can do it in Colorado, I can do it virtually. And it just kind of all the stars aligned and got me here and I never looked back. And that was that all started in 2015. Wow. And it's funny to see how things have morphed, because I think there's a lot of misunderstanding that. professional organizers. Well, those. They just help lazy people who have too much stuff and why can't they do it themselves. And it's really turned into so much more than that. Whether it's being an advocate for a woman in her 90s, who's moving out of our home for the first time into end, you know, and people aren't dealing with her directly. And being taken advantage of and helping them while they make those decisions and not being over handed in forcing people to do things they don't want. Whether it's somebody who had a health issue or lost a loved one unexpectedly less than a single parent, and helping them sort of get back on track because something threw them off track. Yes, there are clients who are chronically disorganized, and I'm happy to help them too. But really, there's so much more to it. It's like how can I help my people, my clients have a better life. Right and be happier in their home. Our home is where we have safe, you know, that's where we go to recharge where we go to feel safe, and to be happy. So if you can't look around your house and love everything that you see, and can't feel relaxed in your home, well, how is that going to affect the rest of your waking hours out in the real world where things are harder, you don't have that kind of control? So I love making, you know, just making everyone so happy place to be. Yeah, yeah. And a lot of that is decluttering because we have just too much stuff. Yeah.

Katie Kurpanek:

Oh, wow. Thank you for sharing your personal story in everything that you went through to bring you to where you are today and and being able to now help so many people I'm sure feels restorative and healing in some aspects. But what you went through in order to get there is still really, really hard. But I'm sure that that's grown your sense of empathy, like you said, for people who like it, trying to resort anybody to just lazy or just, you know, a disorganized, scattered person, like that's a very blanket statement to put on somebody anyway. There's usually like, there's always going to be something deeper going on. But I'm sure that after your personal story and helping your mom and like being able to have more empathy for people, no matter where they're coming from is a huge part of your job. I'm sure in order to do it well because like you're probably I'm gonna guess a really naturally organized person, right if you're like drawn to organizing things, but having empathy and that ability to connect with people and truly help them No matter like what season it is that they're coming from, that's a whole other ballgame, like in your line of work now,

Claudia Winkler:

right? There's so much judgment around our stuff, or how we live our lives. And often I become a mediator between maybe the children in the parents, you know, there's or spouse, you know, a spouse, maybe, or siblings. And so there's sometimes hidden agendas or outright agendas about how to deal with stuff, and it creates a lot of conflict, and then nothing happens. And all it does is create discourse between the parties. And so if I can come in without any kind of judgment, or, you know, I have a neutral stance, and if someone says, we'll just get rid of it all, and this person is like, I want to hold on to everything, well, you have to kind of be soft and gentle, and figure out a way to make everybody happy in a way that's kind of a give and take. So that was another part of what I do with the mediation, and being the neutral party. And when when those parties say, Oh, wow, I haven't been able to get my husband to get rid of X, Y, or Z in 20 years. And here, they are now in our front yard ready to be picked up by the haulers. And, and again, teaching people to have that respect for each other. Because sometimes there's trauma involved with over accumulation of stuff. Or if a elderly person, you know, they have these, this is their memory, this is their life, and to just say, throw it all away, we're gonna ship you off to a retirement home. Wow, that's making a person disposable. And what what life meant to them? And so there's a lot of human interaction that's involved. Even if in my head, I'm like, Oh, my God, just throw it all away. You have to be gentle and build that trust, and then you make can make a lot more headway.

Katie Kurpanek:

Yeah, yeah, we get so so attached to our things, I mean, and it, it makes sense, like not saying that in a negative way at all, because so much of our identity can be wrapped up in or maybe not wrapped up in, but it's materialized around us, you know, like you were talking about earlier, our home should be a place where we feel safe and at peace and joyful, and all those things. But if we think about, like, all the various aspects of our identity, that's going to be probably most evident in our home. And so you know, the way that like we choose to decorate and the things that we want around us, it's because it has some sort of meaning to us most of the time. So I wonder if you could share a little bit about like, the significance of decluttering in our lives and his connection to our sense of well being and peace of mind, because minimalism is something that I personally like to embrace, because it gives me more of a sense of peace of mind. Like, I'm not an extreme minimalist, but I am very particular about the things that I want around me, because I only want those things around me that are going to make me feel peaceful, and joyful. And if there's too much, personally, I feel scattered, and I feel overwhelmed. But that might not be the case for everybody. Like maybe everybody has a bigger collection of stuff that they want around them. And it all brings them joy. So could you share a little bit about how you approach like, the, the process of decluttering? And, you know, why is it important to give attention to our organization habits?

Claudia Winkler:

Well, there's so many good answers to that question. I, in probing questions of my clients is the first start, you know, you think of chaos or disorganization as not like a knot in your sneaker, and it's tight, and it's hard to get it undone, and you're tempted to just like cut it and get rid of it. And you sort of have to poke at it with a needle or something, you know, and you kind of loosen it up on and then suddenly it just opens up in your laces are all undone. And it's the same thing with with clients who have maybe a lot of stuff for whatever reason. So it's finding out is it is it related to some kind of trauma does having a lot of stuff helped keep them feel protected? Were they denied something as a child, so now they want to have hundreds and hundreds of dollars. So that's a whole nother level that I'm not going to address here because that's typically more of a mental illness that needs to be addressed. Not so much about decluttering but for typical decluttering we accumulate stuff, whether we're inheriting it from our parents, right every generation now is more in More stuff. And they want to pass it down because it's important, right? And so you're forcing it down on somebody else. And then we want to accumulate our own stuff. And we don't even realize that it's happening. We're bombarded all the time with advertisements where we don't just shop for our clothes seasonally, like we did you know, back in the day, you just go get your school clothes at the beginning of the school year, and that's what you wore. Now, stores are bringing out products every single day. So there's this huge FOMO like fear of missing out, I gotta go and see what new stuff is there. You know, we're being told by the advertising, if you have the stuff, it's going to make your life better, you're going to be happier, you're gonna be pretty, you're going to be more popular than law, but there's always something else. So it's this endless chase of stuff. And it's the thrill of buying it. And then you come home, and it just sits in a bag on a floor, and you never even look at it. And then that brings, it's kind of like overeating, you love eating the ice cream. But then when you feel your belly, you're you've kind of grossed out. And it's the cycle of oh, now I feel bad that I ate this stuff. So I want to feel better. So I'll eat more. It's the same thing with shopping. And so our stuff has all these emotions attached to it. So it's either I want something external to make me happy. I have guilt, because maybe somebody gave it to me, and I don't really like it. But they kind of made me feel like I should keep it. Maybe there's anger involved with it, someone gets mad at their husband. And so they retaliate by going out going shopping and running out the credit cards. It's just amazing. So it's not even about the stuff. It's it's all the emotions attached to it. And it's those emotions that are kind of spinning around too. So thinking about well, what if What does this piece mean to me? Does it have a story? Do I have a personal connection to it? And feeling this out with my clients to say, Why do you have this? And why are you keeping it can start to change the wiring in their head to look at things in a different way. Another thing with being disorganized is that in the convenience of life rush, we can just hit a button and buy something. And so if we're not organized, and we can't find something, we buy a new one. So now you're spending money. And you're having to find space for all these new things. And before you know it, you have what 10 tape dispensers, because it's like, I don't know where it is, I'll just buy another one. But now you have 10. So what do you do with them? Do you give them away and now you're just adding to the pile of accumulation. So it's really being thoughtful about what is every item in your home saying to you. And, and there's a lot of people that feel a lot of guilt for stuff. And I'm like, Really, if you did, if someone gave you a gift, that that the joy was in the giving of the gift, the thoughtfulness that someone had and giving it to you, but you're under no obligation to keep it if you kept everything that anyone ever gave you in your entire life. Plus the stuff that you want to buy. I mean, think about where are you going to put all that? Yeah. So So keeping it quality versus quantity.

Katie Kurpanek:

Mm hmm. And that can be so challenging. If, like, for example, if you're not sure how to say no, or, you know, there's like, if you feel like okay, maybe I don't find as much quality or value within this gift. But obviously the person who gave it to me does, and like you said, the joy for them comes in giving you the gift. But I think we often can take on too much responsibility for their sense of well being like, well, obviously, they must value this so much to have given it to me, but if I don't feel the same way, and I pass it on, what is that going to look like? Right? What are they going to think of me? And it's it's a constant like growing experience of learning what is and is not your responsibility to take on? And how do you say no, you know, respectfully and like, and then how do you even just determine what is of value to you like, this is a very, very deep well of self growth and actualization of like, the your parts of your identity. And I think it can take years to get to that point. So I love the idea that you, you ask those probing questions to your clients, because really, those might be questions that they've never thought about before.

Claudia Winkler:

Yeah, it's very empowering it when you were just talking it brought to mind that book, The Five Love Languages. Are you familiar with that? Yes. One of them is. They like to receive gifts. So if somebody likes To receive gifts, then often they think, oh, that's what makes me happy. I'm gonna give this person gifts. And I have a friend and I'm constantly telling them like Stop, stop giving me presents, I have you not seen my house, I have a very small house, I don't have room for it. Like if you want to store it in your house, like I know are long enough that we can joke about it. But again, like you said, you have to be tender with people and not insult them. But you don't have to blatantly say like, Oh, thanks for the mug, boom, in smashed on the ground. So you can be sort of gentle. But it is really becoming clear with who you are, and what means something to you. And if if someone is a true friend or family member, and you're you talk to them and say I really appreciate what you gave me. But and then you give reasons that aren't attacking, and they're just explaining who you are. They should accept that and understand that if they really want the best for you. Right? And if they get angry, then it's really about them. I don't know if that makes sense.

Katie Kurpanek:

No, it does.

Claudia Winkler:

Yeah, I have a client and her mother's always giving her stuff. But then her mother gets mad at her because she has too much stuff in her house is a disaster, which is why I come in. So I'm like that's such a mind mess to give somebody all this stuff, and then make them feel guilty if they want to get rid of it. That's that's manipulation. So I think in the true sense of giving a gift, knowing that it made them happy. And then maybe thinking well, maybe in next year, instead of giving her this thing that she's going to give away, maybe we'll all take her out to dinner or buyer tickets to the botanic gardens or to a concert or something that resonates with that person's love language. So we're always kind of learning about ourselves and about each other. And if we're speaking from the heart, there shouldn't be pain to do that. Right? scary. It's scary for people to speak up. And to be honest, it's really is it's hard and scary. So it's easier to say thank you, and I'll put it in the closet. And then when they come over, I'll pull it out. And I'm like, Oh my God, that's exhausting.

Katie Kurpanek:

It is and then you're not living truly, authentically, you know, it's disrespectful towards yourself. And it's also really disrespectful towards those other people, because they deserve to know who you truly are and what you truly like and don't like and what you want. And so yeah, as with anything else in life, it boils down to this, you know, communication, growing and healing and figuring out yourself, and then you know, hoping that others around you are doing that same work. And if not, like you can still find ways to communicate about it. And I think that, at least for me, it's also put like, like, going back to what I said earlier about figuring out what is or is not my responsibility to take on. Well, what is my responsibility to take on may not be how others are going to feel about my choices, but I can communicate like, you know, if I know somebody whose love language is gift giving, I can communicate that I'm so thankful for that and that I love them. And here's some ideas of gifts that really would resonate with me or, you know, as like a sustainability advocate and more of a minimalist, you know, mom and person, I'll tend to ask people for experiences for gifts. Like I would love if you gave me a membership to a museum or the zoo or whatever it is so that like, I can go out with my family and enjoy that. Yeah, so you really have to figure out a lot of like yourself, what is your responsibility, and now I can really understand what you said about like having to be the mediator within these relationships as you're helping someone to organize because really, you're helping them to do so much more than just purely organizing. Taking a quick break to talk to you all about shopping with KindNest. KindNest is an eco and social conscious company that facilitates changemakers globally through various initiatives that promote sustainable living products, community outreach, advocacy and mental health. KindNest works to inspire positive change by supporting people in their efforts of choosing kindness, educating each other reinvesting in our communities advocating for sustainable swaps and eco alternatives, and leveraging best practices and knowledge transfer in the areas of self development, wellness activism, and professional mentorship. They offer all this on their website, which includes an eco friendly and ethical online boutique, coaching services, workshops, events, and other community building and self growth tools. If you'd like to join their mission as a positive change maker, visit their website KindNest.org Today, if you'd like to shop with them, use the affiliate link in this episode description and then use the code that minimal life all one word to receive 15% off your purchase. This affiliate link will Also give me a small kickback with no extra cost to you. So check out this episode description for all those details and dive into a world of conscious social change with KindNest. All right, back to our show. So bringing it back to like this particular season of all things, sustainable podcast, we've been talking about how to become a more conscious consumer. And so far up to this point, we've been learning about, like, what, what we decide to bring into our lives. So we've had episodes about like shopping, and how to align that with our ethics and our personal values and all those things. And so we have thought about how do we intentionally bring things into our lives. But then even if you're trying to be really intentional, you can still end up with like, so much around you. Or maybe your season has changed and you your style has changed, like, you're not into the same things as you were before. So whatever it is, that brings you to this point of like wanting to declutter, wanting to spring clean, if we're going to think about the full lifecycle of these objects, like, it's not very responsible or sustainable to just dump them. So we have to be thinking as conscious consumers, what are we going to do with this product at the end of its life, you know, with us? So anyway, could you share, like in your professional experience? Do you have any helpful tips about like, what to do with these things when you are in the process of reorganizing or decluttering? Like, how do you make sure that you're not just trashing a bunch of stuff?

Claudia Winkler:

Right, so that's assuming you've made all the decisions about what to bring it in, in the first place. There's so many resources out there, and I and I think, because we have so much stuff, and everything is disposable, people don't want good quality stuff. It's like, oh, I'll just buy this cheap piece of whatever, it'll get me through, and I'll throw it away. So all these donation centers are getting completely overwhelmed. To think that they're gonna want everybody's trash is it's kind of the wrong thinking. Now, they can't even give that stuff away to some of the Third World countries. So it ends up going to the trash. So we like to make ourselves think good that, oh, I brought this stuff to Goodwill or arc or, and they're just overwhelmed. And so we feel better. But thinking that we gave this but you're just making somebody else throw it away for you. So really thinking about what is what's the condition of the thing, buying something that's going to last a long time, you know, yeah, seasons change. This is a tough one. But being thought, like I brought some stuff to The Assistance League of Denver, they're more of an upscale Donation Center, that keeps they run there. It's all run by volunteers, their offices here in Denver, and the money that they raised goes to two services in Denver, whatever they don't pick goes to the ark and goodwill, but I was there dropping off a bunch of stuff. And I see a garbage bag, like a huge like, I don't know, huge dumpster thing full of shoes, shoes, and boots and sandals that were still in really good shape. They weren't trashed or flaking or, or torn or anything. So I said, Can I take those out of your garbage can because I have another place I like to go to. And I take them to Soles for Souls. And then this organization focuses just on shoes that they give to women and countries all over the world to create these little micro businesses. So here I saw firsthand how this nonprofit organization that takes donations was throwing away stuff that didn't work for them. But they only have the time to go farm it out to all these people. So they were just throwing it out. So to think that when we give it away, it's gonna go to a good home isn't always the case. But there's, you know, so there's, there's more and more resources, but most people don't want to spend the time figuring that figuring out where those places are, you know, maybe you can bring gardening tools and home stuff. Maybe you've changed the light lighting in your house. Maybe take that to Habitat for Humanity because that's where people go and they want to remodel something. So being thoughtful about what's the item and where does it make sense to go? Towels bathmats squeaky toys, go to a dog or cat like a Denver dumb friends League? Animal Shelter, right because it may be too grungy. So if you just give all your stuff in, you give grungy stuff to Arc, you're gonna throw it away, but if you give it to someone else that can really still make a second or third use out of it. So it's really being thoughtful about who's really going to want to buy this. If someone's really not going to buy it. Where can I give it to be used a lot of times clothing is So cheap we buy it, it's so cheap that to sell it, someone's gonna say I'm gonna pay $5 for a US t shirt when I can go to Old Navy and find one for 6.99. And so the stuff just becomes really disposable. Yeah, they can use some of the clothing and make, make rags out of it. But again, if it's not pure cotton, and so the best bet is to really start from the beginning, when you buy something and say, where is it coming from? Right? What are the resources that are going into making it to shipping it to packing it? And where's all that packaging gonna go? How often? Are you going to use it? Is it really something that you need? Or can you use something you already have? Can you share it with someone else? Can you rent it? Where are you going to put it? What are you going to, you know, what are you going to get rid of to make room for it? And so it's it's better to really think right out out of the gate about a purchase and be really thoughtful and mindful about what's motivating you to get it. I don't know if that answered your question.

Katie Kurpanek:

It does, it, I think it's really helpful to bring that perspective to the front of our minds that it really does start with the the choices that we make in the beginning. And obviously, you know, for everyone who's listening right now, we can't change the past. So we can't change like what's already, you know, what, what we feel is already cluttering up our home. But from this point forward, we can make more conscious decisions. And at least that's something I'm always encouraging my clients as well like, and the listeners of this podcast that you just do the very best that you can do. And the more that you educate yourself, the more that you are surrounding yourself with like, sustainable influence influencers, or just other forms of education, you're going to be doing better, you know, that quote with Maya Angelou like when you know better you do better, and that sticks with me because like, it's so true, you just can't, you can't unlearn those things, you can't erase that from my mind. So thinking about whatever it is that people have, right now, if you can figure out a way to pass that on to somebody as responsibly as you can, you can start doing that with the things that you already have. But then your choices moving forward, need to like be more conscious and thoughtful, which is a whole process, that's not going to change overnight. But like we can start now, right?

Claudia Winkler:

And doing research on Who, Who are the companies that you're buying products from, for example, I think it's Lego will take back old Legos that maybe your kids have outgrown. If you can't donate them, Patagonia, for example, you can resell your clothes back to them, and then they either we purchase them or they resell them. Thinking about the sustainability of corporations, where do they make their products? You know, what do they want? You know, like for the Keurig cups, those aren't recyclable? So really, is that? Is that a company that you want to support when you're creating all this excess trash? And so really giving thought to the product that you're buying? Who's making it? Are they doing anything to try to reduce their impact on our environment? Or is it all just about sales? And so it's being conscious and doing that research on the front end, as well as the back end? Where am I going to put it, but who am I going to buy stuff from going forward. And then there's also other places you can do like those freecycle websites where people give stuff back and forth. So that's another place that at least you know, it's going to a good home because this person actually wants your set of dishes,

Katie Kurpanek:

right? I do that all the time. Even on Facebook. Like there's a there's a lot of free groups that you can join. And so in Colorado, there's like free community, Colorado. That's one, and I think another one is called free in Denver. And I'm on both of those pages. And constantly, like we're posting back and forth like this is something I need does anyone have it? This is something I'm willing to give does everybody want it and like it is. So I do that, I do that probably 95% of the time rather than just going to donate at a thrift store because I at least know somebody really, really wants this like a tangible person that I can see wants this item.

Claudia Winkler:

Exactly. And it's kind of creating like its own shopping network. Right. You're just sort of moving stuff back and forth. You're sharing your your your Yeah, that's kind of a really cool kind of underground way for a lot of people but it's fabulous.

Katie Kurpanek:

Yeah, it totally is. I love these tips. i It's so funny, like how excited I get talking about this stuff, but it's like, I think that there is just so much benefit to to figuring this stuff out for ourselves and just being more aware of what we're doing in this world, like, what because our choices are already making an impact, like we're already overflowing these thrift stores, like you said, which is then overflowing into landfills, like the impact is already being done. So I get super psyched about like choosing what kind of impact I want to make and being more aware of it. And I have a few questions from some listeners that wanted to send this to you once I was like, I'm talking to a professional organizer, you want to know. And so I have these questions. And then I think after that, we'll probably start to bring it in for a landing with my final question for you. But hey, just wanted to jump in real quick to talk about Patreon. Patreon is an online platform that allows you to become a patron of the arts, so to speak, a financial supporter of the creators who enrich your life with their content. Thanks to the generous support of my patrons starting as low as just $3 a month, I'm able to continue empowering individuals like yourself through these educational chats with various experts across the spectrum of sustainable living. As a patron of this podcast, you will have the privilege of joining the discussions with guest speakers via zoom and taking part in the exclusive Q&As with them too. If you can't make the actual interview live, that's okay, you'll have access to the full recorded episode early before anybody else gets a chance to hear it. You also receive the added bonus of personal shout outs in podcast episodes, and other behind the scenes content sent your way. Plus, you'll receive unique discounts to more than a dozen sustainable businesses that have partnered with me so that you can save money and the earth while you shop. If any of the content that I create adds value to your life, or the perks alone have piqued your interest, check out patreon.com/all Things sustainable to join our community and become a patron today. Thank you so much for your support of this journey to minimize our carbon footprint while maximizing our positive impact on this planet we call home. Okay, let's get back to our show. A couple of these are logistical like one person was asking how can you store a bunch of seasonal gear that you have in your home so that it's, you know, not not cluttered? It's just tricky to store I think she was talking about probably things like, you know, big heavy winter items or like snowboarding gear, stuff like that. And also another listener was adding on to that, like how can you store these things without maybe going out and buying a whole bunch of new plastic bins? Or if you do feel the need to use plastic, Like how can you just be more sustainable in your organization habits I think is what they were getting at.

Claudia Winkler:

Oh, fabulous. And when he when he said seasonal? I was thinking you know, is it decor? Is it clothing? Is it equipment? So I guess it's all it depends on the size of the items. So when a couple of things that come to mind. Do you remember those old foot lockers that people used to take to like summer camp with them or army people take with them?

Katie Kurpanek:

Yeah.

Claudia Winkler:

So they're solid. You can you know, people you can get those at a thrift store or find them online on a use, you know, so footlocker, right, it's protected. You can stack them, and they're gonna last you forever. That's what they're kind of built for. They're heavier. So you're gonna want to think about where you're what you're putting in them and where you're storing them. But that's something good and solid and protective. Old suitcases the big duffel bags are great for storing soft goods like maybe your your ski outfit, and your mittens and your gloves and your jacket and your pants and all that stuff can go into these big duffel bags. I used to work on a sailboat, and we were only allowed to bring on the boat with us a duffel bag. So I got the biggest duffel bag I could. I still use it now for storing things like blankets, extra blankets, pillows, comforters, again, seasonal stuff. So So those kinds of things. And again, you don't have to buy new ones. There's plenty of them out there if you want to look for them. banker's boxes are good. So cardboard, they have the lids on them again, that might be good for storing, like Christmas lights or something that's kind of small or ornaments that need to be protected. So that's cardboard that can be recycled if they fall apart. But if you're only using things seasonally they should last a long time. I don't have anything against some of the plastic tubs again. Some of them are so flimsy so you get what you pay for you get something cheap. And then it cracks it breaks it's it fades it works and then you throw it away. And then you get another one it's like so we're always thinking about cheap now but what's the cost in the long term so if you do get some one of those really heavy Rubbermaid tubs they're like black with a Yellow lid and that thing is going to last you a lifetime, then at least you're making a conscious decision. Yeah, I have this one tub that's going to last me 20 years versus 20 tubs that I get a new one every year.

Katie Kurpanek:

Yes. And again, bringing it back to what we said earlier thinking about what you're investing in right up front. The huge plastic tubs like that are built to be so durable that like, not only will this last for your lifetime, but if you're also thinking, you know, for whatever reason, if I like let's say you're moving and you're not going to have as much storage at the next place, like if you need to get rid of some of those things, then those are good enough quality that you could pass them on to a person who actually wants them like you could, you know, sell them or give them away on Facebook marketplace. And it'll last for that whole person's lifetime and probably beyond because, you know, it's, well, plastic does not biodegrade, it's going to be around forever and ever and ever. But hopefully, these types of bins wouldn't just be cracking and breaking at the drop of a hat.

Claudia Winkler:

Right. And if let's say you're you're wanting to transition in, you have some of those, like cheaper bins. Again, think about repurposing them. Maybe you could use them out in your garden as like a little mini greenhouse in the spring. When you've planting like lettuce seeds, or spinach seeds, or peas or something like that a little mini greenhouse or again, giving them to somebody else or using them to store something that's maybe not so heavy and doesn't need to be so durable. So don't just throw it out. Yeah, yep.

Katie Kurpanek:

I love that idea with with gardening and like starting your little seedlings and everything. Yeah, it just, I mean, I do it. So I'll be the first to say that, like, I am not perfect at this. But I, I it makes me cringe every time I have to throw out something, especially if it's plastic that I just cannot figure out what else to do with it. Like if it's broken, or if it's, you know, not recyclable, that kind of thing. Yeah, it's hard, but we only can do the best we can do.

Claudia Winkler:

Yeah. And there's more and more companies that are trying to make a difference. So you've heard of Ridwell, yeah. And so they do think they will they'll take that plastic film that before couldn't be recycled, whether it was the shopping bags, or the Amazon, you know, padded envelopes or anything that couldn't be recycled. Now they're taking that and repurposing it into different things. So slowly. They're you know, the more we push for, we want that that's going to create the demand for these companies that are going to figure out oh, wow, we want to do something with this. And we can make money doing it and make people happy. And so it's supply and demand. And if people insist on it by either taking action with who they purchase from, or you know, making those decisions, speak with your actions, then that'll kind of shift the tides a little bit as well.

Katie Kurpanek:

Yeah, definitely. Yes, Claudia, I'm so happy you said that it is something that I am going to be so stubborn in this, I'm going to borrow a phrase from my friend who was on the previous podcast episode, she calls herself a stubborn idealist. I love that I'm like, I am a stubborn idealist. I will say over and over and over, that we the individuals, the consumers, like we are driving the change, like the mass change that needs to happen, or what you know, is already going on. So the systems, the infrastructure that's been built around us, like they're not going to have any desire to change unless we're pushing for it and demanding it. And it's not just a few of us, like, you know, you may be new to the sustainability realm If you're just tuning into this podcast for the first time, but there are so many people who are pushing for this. And like you said, that is that is driving a lot of people to start new companies and new small businesses or big businesses that are pushing for more eco friendly and just like sustainable future impacts. So I'm happy you said that.

Claudia Winkler:

Yeah. Well, and I think about you know, people say, Well, what's my little what, what are my efforts going to do? Why should I bother? Well think about a raindrop or snowflake. Yeah, by themselves. They're harmless. You can lick it off your cheek and it's gone. But you put enough snowflakes together and you have an avalanche that can take out a mountain village or you have enough rain drops, and you can again flood, a town in South Africa is what just happened. And so never negate the effects of small actions done multiplied by 1000s. And millions can have a huge impact. And what reminded me this reminded me of something that happened in I think it was Germany. Consumers were complaining about the excess packaging that was coming in all their products right. You get a deodorant, but now it's in Cardboard box that's wrapped in plastic. That's that you know. And as soon as you get home, it goes right in the trash. So people were really frustrated about that. So what happened was, as soon as people bought their products, right in the store before they left, they ripped off all that excess packaging and dumped it in the store. Oh, wow. So now the stores are having to deal with all this trash. And that started shifting things. And so you get a movement together, and you can make big change. And tip to not think that our individual efforts are fruitless, that we can really make a difference. That's how anything changes.

Katie Kurpanek:

Yeah, absolutely. So totally, totally agree with you. And that's a pretty powerful image thinking of that example from Germany. Wow, I, I loved this conversation, I think that there is just tons of really beneficial ideas that you've shared already and concepts. And I wonder if for the final few minutes, if we could think about my final question, I asked every guest speaker who's on the podcast. It's really just asking for like, one to three actionable steps that our listeners can take as it applies to this concept. So for you, if you could consider the listeners, you know, various levels of privilege or accessibility to resources, like their backgrounds, wherever they're coming from, could you share 1-3 steps that listeners could take as easily as today that could keep you know, the full lifecycle of their product consumption in mind, in order for them to make their organization and their general lifestyle habits like more sustainable?

Claudia Winkler:

Well, in organizing, I have found that people love to shop, and they want to buy the cute little containers, and then they're stuck with all these containers that don't work for them, and they don't know what to do with them. So backing up with the stuff that you have, sort it out, see how much you really have, oh, my gosh, I really have 20 sippy cups for my kid, I don't need 20 sippy cups, I can wash them. So let's reduce it down to maybe five or seven, you know, one for every day of the week. And when you saw it and put like with like, then you really see what you have. And then you can make those decisions about oh my god, I didn't realize I had so many water bottles. And then you can decide which are the ones I really want to keep and Note to self, I don't need to buy more. And then you can then once you're done with what you have, then you organize and figure out where's the best home for it. So I know where to look for it when I want it. Like we do with our silverware. We know where to put it when we're done. We know where to get it when we need it. But do that with everything else and be thoughtful and then you know what you have, and you're not going to be tempted to go out and buy more because oh, well, I want a pink one. Or I need this one. Because it's insulated. This is like the coolest, newest thing or I can't find it, then maybe figure out how you want to contain it. If you need to contain it don't just automatically go to the store and buy the cutest little wicker basket or whatever. Is there something in your house that you can repurpose? Can you use a box, maybe cover it with remnants of wallpaper, or contact paper and make a cute little container of your own shopping your own house first, before you go and shop outside, it's going to save you money and it's going to save the cycle of consumerism that we're what we're just trained to do to fall into. So doing that it really is seeing what you have and making those decisions. And then when you do want to buy something, what's driving you? What do you Why are you really getting it? Is it because oh my gosh, I'm just tired of this, I want something new, or Oh, so and so got this new grill while I want to get a grill or whatever those big green ones are? So what's your motivation? Why are you doing it? Are you doing it for yourself? Do you really need it? And then is there another way to to make that happen without maybe having to buy new? Can you buy used? Can you get it from a free recycle Group online? Can you share it with some of your neighbors? Like maybe I'll go in on it together and say maybe we all don't need no solar oven and we can buy one and share it and you know you use it this day and I'll use it this day or you know, something like that or with your family members? Or can you just rent it? And just use it for that one time rather than buying it because it's cheap. It's easy, but now where are you going to put it and you're never going to use it again and then you throw it away or give it away? So So being thoughtful, and then also being thoughtful about what are you buying? Where is it coming from? You know, making those choosing who you want to support are those companies, ones that support your values and your mission to be sustainable and to have this least amount of impact on our planet and to supporting knows, you know, vote with your dollars. And then think about places like RidWell, we're in other resources digging a little bit deeper to find out well, what's the best place to give my stuff away? I think that's, that's kind of hitting it from all from what you have to where you're getting it and where it's going.

Katie Kurpanek:

It really does. Yeah, you covered like every aspect of an item's lifecycle, basically. So I really appreciate those options. I think that that is, you know, pretty low hanging fruit that we can start to grasp and then just begin our journey, you know, just go from there. So, wow, yeah, your your insight has been so helpful and appreciated. And you know, clearly you are incredible at what you do. So if people want to get in touch with you for their, you know, organization needs, how can people follow up with you? I'll have information linked in the episode description, but what would you like be suggesting as a starting point,

Claudia Winkler:

they could go to my website, it's, woworganized.com, they can email me at Claudia@woworganized.com. Or they can give me a phone call and my numbers on my website. I would love to help people or just talk to them or answer any questions that they might have that might have been triggered by something they heard on today's podcast.

Katie Kurpanek:

That's so wonderful. Thank you so much.

Claudia Winkler:

Thank you so much for having me. I just adore what you're doing. And I adore you. I just love that you're making these these positive things happen because we need many, many, many more people like you, but spreading the word we're, you know, those ripples are making an impact thing. Thank you so much.

Katie Kurpanek:

Thank you, Claudia. Likewise. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. If so, please consider sharing it with a friend and subscribing to the podcast so you never miss a new episode. Check out the description for important links. And if you'd like to benefit from the perks of becoming a patron to the show, check out patreon.com/all Things sustainable. Until next time, do the best you can with what you have and remember that you can make a positive impact on this world one day at a time.