Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Post: Edit My Closet

If you're a regular visitor to my blog, you know that I like to figure out the motivation behind people's green actions - or lack thereof - in an attempt to find more effective ways to encourage the public to make the world a better place. It will come as no surprise, then, that I was intrigued by Edit My Closet, a service that helps clients de-clutter their homes by identifying the barriers that stand in the way and reinforcing a simpler, greener attitude about consumption. I asked founders Beth and Cheryl to tell us more in this guest post.


Beth and Cheryl, the founders of Edit My Closet, have been providing their customers with emotional support while physically assisting in de-cluttering, organizing, and removing no longer needed/wanted items, for over five years. Their background in Social Work enables them to read body language, validate experiences, and be conscious of the emotional charge associated with de-cluttering. Beth and Cheryl both live in Toronto and have sparkling closets.

Dollar stores, leisure time, "I deserve it" upgrades, larger living space, disposable incomes, "just in case" mentality (holding on to things, physically or otherwise, out of fear one will never have access to them again), and shopping as a form of self-medication have all played an integral role in producing the cultural epidemic known as clutter.

Clutter is defined as "a confused or disordered state or collection". It's not difficult to be confused or disordered when we have an abundance of meaningless, useless objects surrounding us. This state can easily lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and out of control. This is why the process of de-cluttering (carving out time to consciously go through your stuff and discard items that are no longer useful) is considered therapeutic.

The process of letting things go and saying goodbye can be a difficult and emotionally charged experience. Our consumption and "holding-on" patterns are brought into awareness as we move through this process. The typical result, however, is one of liberation and clarity, especially when the process is executed in an environmentally conscious and sustainable way.

We provide our customers with five steps to make the de-cluttering process easier:
  1. Identify a cluttered space that requires organization. Easy!

  2. Establish expectations. Is there a specific vision for the space, i.e. easier access to items hanging in a closet, or wanting a drawer to close? Be clear around the intentions; writing them down helps significantly.

  3. Compartmentalize and assess! Empty all of the items from the space and sort them into smaller, categorized piles. For example, when organizing an office you may have a stationery pile, an electronics pile, a decorative pile, etc.

  4. Create 3 separate piles labelled Toss, Maybe, and Keep. Baskets or bins can be used in lieu of piles.
    • Go through each item piece by piece and ask: Is this essential? What’s its purpose? Has it been used in the past six months? Could someone else benefit from the item? Taking pictures of items that evoke sentimentality is a great way to "hold on" without compromising storage space.
    • Look at the empty space and think back to your vision. Are you missing anything? Would additional storage solutions help? Are there things in the “Keep” pile that actually belong in another room or area? If yes, where?
    • Further compartmentalize items in the "Toss" pile to Recycle, Donate, Return, and Give-Away piles. Take the time to donate items to shelters, libraries, and second hand stores that rely heavily on donations to serve the community effectively. Donate/recycle as quickly as possible to avoid rooting through the bags and reclaiming items.

  5. Clean the area before putting the items back. De-cluttering is the perfect time to pull out the vacuum and make use of all of your favourite natural cleaning products. Miss Charlotte over at Les Bonnes Idees provides a recipe to make your own! Click here to view it.

We'd like to leave you with one last tip: de-cluttering is most often performed in the spring, as it is widely associated (for good reason) with new beginnings. However, we encourage you to try de-cluttering one space per month. Tackling areas in small steps like this is less overwhelming than a big once a year job and will certainly have a big impact over time. Good luck!

For more information about Edit My Closet, please check out our website or contact us at info(at)

Photo of cluttered room used under Creative Commons from Christopher Gollmar (flickr).
No clutter logo used under Creative Commons from Sean MacEntee (flickr).
Photo of homemade natural cleaning products used under Creative Commons from Mrs. Green (flickr).


  1. Thanks for distilling the de-cluttering process into simple, easy-to-follow steps. I especially like the toss/maybe/keep piles and the recycle/donate/return/give-away categories. What I need now is a storage solution for those last four categories, as a temporary but neat holding place... instead of my floor... :)

  2. Personally, I can see why other people would hire experts to come in for this sorta thing... I have difficulty throwing out anything I think may potentially be useful at some point! It must be tough trying to get people to give rational thought to what to keep, rather than just knee-jerk "But it's mine!" responses!

    It's hard finding a balance... I mean, I'm glad I held on to my childhood teddy bear, but do I "need" it? Of course not.

    Well... maybe when it's REALLY dark out... but in general, no!

  3. Holding on to things for their potential future utility is really common, and many environmentalists do this to avoid waste. That's one of the reasons I asked Beth and Cheryl to write about this topic!

    Sentimental value shouldn't be dismissed. And I don't think anyone would deny you your teddy bear! Perhaps you could use that as a benchmark? I.e., unless a given item means as much to you as your teddy bear, consider donating it.

  4. Andrea, what great advice! We know that people often have an emotional attachment to items from their past. Like you mentioned, we would never deny someone significant items. However, our question is always, why are you keeping it? Is it going to be used, or displayed? What kind of emotions come to the surface when you see the item?

    Taking a picture of the item and letting it go can sometimes be enough to preserve the memory. If a picture just isn't enough we love your idea of using an important item as a benchmark as well. Once you create those kinds of standards people often realize that they don't have that many "important" items!

  5. love this take on editing your house and being more green!

  6. Isn't it neat? The more I look, the more I find aspects of our lifestyles that have a green bent to them, like de-cluttering. It would be great if everyone thought about the environment every time they made any sort of change in their home, such as purchasing new furniture, repainting, and coming up with storage solutions.