Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WFMW: Controlling paper clutter

I have many faults as a housekeeper, but hoarding stuff is NOT one of them. I don’t like keeping piles of junk around. If I don’t use it or love it, or if I have more than one, out it goes to bless someone else. As FlyLady says, clutter can’t be organized!

But one type of clutter keeps piling up on me—literally! Paper clutter is so sneaky and when you leave a piece of paper by your computer or on your kitchen countertop, guess what? You’ve just started a pile.

Here are some ways I keep paper clutter to a minimum:

1) I sort the mail as soon as I get it. Bills and important letters go in the mail organizer in the kitchen; junk mail goes straight into the recycling can. I write info from invitations on the calendar and then toss them (same for handouts from school).

2) Our town doesn’t currently have curbside recycling, so I take our used paper and phone books to a green and yellow dumpster by my daughter’s school. I keep a trash can in the garage near the regular trash and one in the laundry room (because the laundry room is near the front door where I get the mail). When they’re full, I put them in the car and unload after I drop Miss Pink off for school. It makes me feel less guilty for the number of sheets of copy paper my kids go through weekly.

3) The hardest part is what to do with Miss Pink’s humongous pile of paperwork. She hates to throw away anything, but especially paper. I let her have one drawer in her bed to fill with current favorites (which she never looks at, but whatever) and when it gets full we have to go through and empty it by half. I cull through her school papers when she’s not looking, throw away all the everyday worksheets, choose the ones that will bring a tear to my eye and file them away, and allow her to choose the rest for her drawer. She’s learning to choose her favorites rather than treating the Target ad from two years ago as if it were just as good as her collage of pink items cut out of magazines.

That’s what works for me!


  1. it would save you time if you just threw the paper away instead of trying to recycle. and since it causes more pollution and costs more energy to recycle paper than it does to make paper you're actually NOT helping the environment despite all the tree-hugging propaganda. (also, paper recycling is not profitable so the govmnt has to subsidize it to keep it going and appease the greenies) there is only one type of recycling that is cost effective and makes sense... aluminum, steel and other metals... that is why (usu in the sticks) you see PRIVATE companies that recycle these products...

  2. You have some great tips. Since my city has separate trash cans for recycling, I just put the papers in that can.

  3. Great tips. Maybe your daughter could try collages for a few of her prized paper collections. It's a nice craft for kids, she won't feel the "loss" of her Target ads so much, and you'll be able to throw out more and more often.

  4. Spouse is a hoarder. He is terrified someone will steal his personal information so he never throws anything away. We have piles of papers he think he'll put in the shredder, advertisements he thinks he will need for that big sale, and the school papers! Oh, and I mustn't touch because I might toss something important. Sigh.

    Someday you may see me float down the street on a sea of paper...

  5. Great tips--and the comments are just as entertaining! I now feel justified in just trashing (not recycling) my junk mail thanks to pfaff-off and feeling tx poppet's pain--just yesterday my husband resisted me as I was tossing two Christmas cards out--one was from the Mormon church (we're not members) and the other was from our mortgage lender.