How to Win the Battle of the Junk Drawer


Everyone has one; it doesn’t matter where you live or how organized you are or which candidate you vote for. The junk drawer does not discriminate. And unless you’re a Zen monk, the idea of emptying and sorting said drawer sends you running for cover.

Yes, I’m fairly certain most of us have done battle with our junk drawer at one point or another, lest it overpopulate, overflow and move in on the cutlery. But I propose we embrace the junk drawer for its necessary, if not annoying, existence in our lives. I propose we approach this battle like the eco-soldiers we aspire to be.

It might be rough but it need not cause grey hairs or any other form of premature aging. Our goal is simple and two-fold: to un-clutter and eco-fy. Here are a few pointers to help you win the battle:

Purge at least once a month. I’ve never met a junk drawer that didn’t need a good go-through, and I’m certain yours is no exception.

Take everything out of the drawer before you start a purge, down to the last paperclip and loose twisty tie. Don’t try the weed-through method, which only leads to more chaos and saving items you don’t need.

Next – and act quickly because too much time spent here will lead to too much thinking and unnecessary keeping – pick up an item and within 5 seconds decide to: recycle, re-drawer, or re-visit. Here are examples of each:

RECYCLE: Expired coupons, old cell phones, batteries without juice, pens that don’t work, foreign coins from your last trip abroad, the token over-twisted twist-tie, a jar of touch-up paint (probably full of VOCs) – these are easy. Recycle or toss.

RE-DRAWER: Take-out menus, extension cords, matchbooks, instruction manuals, rubber bands, scissors, glue guns, balls of string, masking tape – these are keepers. Set them aside, unless you still have a manual for the answering machine you bought in 1989. Please, throw it away. (Well, recycle it.)

RE-VISIT: Light bulbs, frequent flyer cards, business cards from lunch last week, extra buttons, old address books – might there be a better storage spot for these? For example, add the business contact to your PDA or computer and recycle the card; or put the extra buttons in the sewing kit you keep in the linen closet.

Consider eco-substitutions. Are there items that can be switched out for a green alternative? An obvious possibility is light bulbs, but I’m fairly sure you’ve checked this off your list already. What about glue or touch-up paint?

Keep it to one drawer. Junk drawers are known to spread faster than the baddest of bacteria. Control yourself – only keep what you know you use regularly.

It’s possible to come out of this battle without war wounds. Now if only I could follow my own advice.

Image: threelayercake