Earthworms’ Castings: Dynamic Duo Downsizing

Laura Neuman-Howe Kathy LeDuc

By Jean Ponzi

Putting their Green values to work, sisters Laura Neuman-Howe and Kathy LeDuc can disperse your stuff, sustainably. 

Launched in January 2021,their Dynamic Duo Downsizing and Estate Services supports family and individual clients who need to sort, distribute and de-acquisition up to a household of goods, often in a time-limited manner. It’s a way to move your stuff to the best end-uses and waste as little as possible. 

One of their taglines is ESP: Eco-Friendly, Supportive and Practical.

Over Laura’s long career managing enviro projects and organizations, she incubated this idea to turn people’s tides of household waste. “It’s in my genes,” she says, “to keep things in use, out of the landfill. I know people who’ve moved and just rented dumpsters to throw everything away. That makes me cringe, with so many opportunities to reuse or recycle so much of what we acquire in our households.” Now this resourceful stuff-handling pro helps clients tap sustainable options in efficient, accessible practice.

Kathy, who also has a landscaping business, agrees with keeping stuff out of the landfill and she likes being able to help people organize as they’re cleaning or moving house. “We bring the power of focus,” she says, “to work that can feel overwhelming. We’ll divide our time and align our focus to keep a family going through tough work with respect for their feelings.

“On one job with two sisters,” Kathy recalls, “one of them got bogged down dealing with cards and memorabilia. We paired up with them. The sentimental sister and I shifted our sorting process, putting the clearly meaningful items off to the side to go through later. We were all able to stay focused on what needed to be done, without sacrificing their emotional process.”

Laura adds, “Sometimes our work just gets people started. One client family was in a stage of grief but had to deal with their late mother’s stuff. The process of hiring us – scheduling, making a payment for initial services – gave them the focus they needed to get going. This time, our work provided support. The clients were able to see the project through on their own.”

Laura’s expertise with electronic tools augments this duo’s Green savvy and sets them apart from similar services. “We can make a private webpage picturing family items. Relatives can add stories about how an item came into the family, what it means for them. We can set up an anonymous system for siblings to ‘bid’ on things individuals want. 

“The time and space this kind of inventory provides can help families negotiate distribution, based on emotional and personal as well as monetary values. Anonymity,” she says, “can mitigate potential conflicts when families are coping with loss, the demands of estate management details, and the anxiety that so often accompanies these times.” 

The duo can also physically pack up and ship items to whoever “wins” the bidding process, reducing  demands on an executor dealing with fellow heirs.

With depth and breadth of knowledge of regional reuse and recycling options, this duo gives expert guidance to clients, especially those living out of town, while efficiently working the distribution process. “Hiring us,” says Kathy, “let one family with far-flung siblings be together, in the limited time when they were here, and manage the necessary closure of their family home. 

“Almost everything can be reused in some form or fashion,” Kathy adds. “For example, Stray Rescue, the animal welfare non-profit, can cut up a not-great blanket and make six. We know where, what and how to efficiently get unwanted stuff to many unique end-users.”

One of Laura’s favorite distribution finds is Home Sweet Home. This local furniture bank welcomes donations of many kinds of everyday household goods, that more generalized resale store charities can’t accept. They take items in good condition for bedroom, dining room, living room and kitchen, to furnish whole households for clients referred by their partner agencies.

Both sisters live Green in their personal lives, with clotheslines, chickens, and compost piles. Their homes are energy efficient. Native plants anchor Kathy’s landscaping business. Continuous piles in their basements await delivery to eWaste recycling events, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and Remains textile recycling. 

Right now, Kathy is focused on a short-term project with the International Institute, coordinating donations for Afghan refugees resettling in St. Louis.

Do categories of stuff still stump these Green sisters? Laura has given up on partially used cosmetics and lotions. Kathy calls Laura an “overzealous knucklehead” for time spent cleaning out containers, then realizing there are no recycling codes on most packaging for personal care products. 

This Dynamic Duo Downsizing has significant professional cred! They are members of NAPOP, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. They tap into resources like Key Guild, to assess items for monetary value. Their growing network of fellow pros in St. Louis and elsewhere gives encouragement and a collaborative way to build their skills.

Laura says, “People are so appreciative of having help with a process that can be painful and exhausting. You have someone come in to help! You can keep stuff in use, and out of the landfill!”

Learn more and contact Laura Neuman-Howe and Kathy LeDuc at


Tune into Jean Ponzi’s Earthworms enviro-conversations, podcasting from KDHX St. Louis Independent Media, at www.kdhx.org