Have you ever wanted to reduce EVERYTHING you own, eliminate the excess, and keep only things that are true to who you are now, and what you need? This post is about that.
With Spring in the air and Earth month upon us, made especially obvious by the scores of articles and tips on spring cleaning popping up like so many new buds, we were inspired burst forth with a bud of our own – in the form of a green Spring clean/ life audit.
“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’” – Robin Williams
Truth told, this process that can be done at any time – annually, seasonally, or as often as monthly. And right now, with the renewed light, optimism and energy of Spring, and after having spent so much more time in our homes over the past months – we jump in with fresh determination!
Broken into 4 stages of Assess, Purge, Renew, Maintain (“APRM”) – if you are feeling it, we encourage you to choose an area of your life and take time going through each of the following stages. And as the adage goes “out with the old, in with the new”, we encourage you to keep LOW WASTE swaps at top of mind! For what no longer serves you – please first repurpose, then rehome. If you need to acquire items, look for second hand solutions where possible.
Here are some “warm up” questions to get you in the right mental space.
- What is your favourite travel destination and why? Spending so much time at home, are there elements from your favourite places that you can integrate into your own space? Think colours, vibes, comfort.
- If you could only pick one word, which would you pick to be your theme for your space: for example: Harmony, Simplicity, Richness, Energy, Renewal, Vibrant
- Are you ready for unexpected company at a moment’s notice? Are you proud of your home when other’s see it as your zoom background?
Regardless of what you answered, if you are reading this, you likely have a desire for a change… a refreshed and decluttered life. Rejuvenated spaces can ease inner disorder, and give you space to breathe. Keep your answers from above at top of mind as you go through each stage of this Eco-Refresh Process.
(Side Note: We are using this technique for SPACES, but with a little adaptation, you could also apply the same technique to relationships, habits, routines, work… you get the idea.)
Stage 1: ASSESS
Pick an area. The entrance to your home, your back yard, your bathroom, your office. Or start smaller – your cutlery drawer, under your bathroom sink, your closet. Look closely, try to see with the eyes of your highest self (or your favourite critic / domestic idol). Take your time to review the overall area, and then for each item you see apply these questions:
- Does it work? Does it work for its required purpose? (ie. a closet that you can find what you are looking for, a table with available space for eating, chairs that hold their occupants, a spot near the door to put on your shoes)
- Do you use it? If it’s a space, is it so cluttered or unkempt it brings you stress? If it’s clothing, is it something you have worn within the 12 months?
- Do you love it? Does it bring you pleasure (i.e. does it make you feel safe, inspired, refreshed)? Is it something you would want to keep no matter what? (*If this is the case, make a mental note! This is the level of “love” criteria everything else should be set against!)
- Can you fix it? (or hire someone else to fix it) Can you sew up the holes, oil the brakes, adjust the table legs, organize the spaces? Can you breathe new life into it?
You may need to go through this step several times. For example, in your bedroom you may first start by assessing the room itself, how the furniture is positioned, and space is used, working through the four questions. Secondly, assess the mementos in the room one by one, again asking yourself the questions from above… artwork, photos, jewellery boxes, figurines, etc. Then, your wardrobe. Are you hanging onto clothing that doesn’t fit, or that holds nostalgic value, but you are unlikely to wear again? Assign each item a (symbolic) label: LOVE (keep), LOSE (rehome) or SAVE (aka maybe in a tote with a time stamp on it – ie. clothes that will fit 10 pounds from now – YOU CAN DO IT! Don’t toss them yet, but that doesn’t mean they have to taunt you! Maybe a duffle bag under the bed until you are ready to bust them out?). Think about making a pile for “REPLACE”, but that might be better tracked as a list.
“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
Stage 2: PURGE (DETACH)
Now it’s time to decide how to best let go. Using the bedroom example, maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the chair that has become a stand-in for a laundry basket, maybe it’s artwork that no longer inspires you, or framed photos that could be moved to an album. Here are some things to think about when deciding next steps:
- Would someone you know enjoy it – Maybe the new mom down the block would love your old rocker, or your niece could use some gently loved hand me downs!
- Does it have value (i.e. you could sell for $) – via Facebook, Craigslist, pawn shops, consignment stores . . . or a flea market when they happen again! …But wait, there’s more: Want to sell used clothing items that are still in good shape, and you don’t mind putting in a little time? Sell online to fashionistas, like you, via sites like ThredUp, Tradesy or Poshmark!
- Could you repurpose it in a new way – Fun fact: There is a surge in “Granmillenial” or “granny chic” style for both fashion and home decor – with a little TLC some of your existing items could be right on trend! Not your style? Search Pinterest for oodles of upcycle inspiration! For examples: rather than the bin, clothes can be cut into rags (to be used in Stage 3, Step 1!) or shredded and used to stuff pillows!
- Could you donate it to a charity – Are you an artist with unused supplies? Or a bibliophile willing to part some of your collection with sweet sorrow? Remember your old items could also be another man’s treasure! Here are some great avenues to consider, for “junk” (*not actual junk) and no longer wanted treasures: local schools, women’s shelters, YMCAs, community centres and groups. To name a few: Helping Families in Need Society (https://helpingfamiliesinneed.org), Habitat for Humanity (Habitat.ca – take a look – is there a Habitat ReStore in your community?)
- Could you donate it to a business – Could your item live a fresh life with a little TLC? But you aren’t the person for the job? There are businesses that may be in demand for what you have! Selling or donating your lovingly used-and-abused furniture item, via Facebook or Craigslist, to someone whose side (or main) hustle is furniture refurbishing might mean it could be revived and appear on sites like chairish.com or aptdeco.com and live again in someone else’s home. For clothing, consider donating to businesses like suayla.com @suaysewshop (based in LA) and @frankiecollective (based in Vancouver) to be upcycled into on-trend, do-good fashion.
No matter what, use recycling and the landfill as a LAST RESORT. And, if you do go that route, first check with your local governing body for what is and is not accepted, you might be surprised! *Do not “wish-cycle”! (aka toss something into your recycle bin, hoping it’s recyclable! Not all wishes come true, as we well know – and in these cases, it just makes extra work for someone, and often does more harm than good by contaminating an entire recycling stream, diverting it all into a landfill!)
“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
– Fred Rogers, Television Personality
Stage 3: RESET (RENEW • REVITALIZE)
Now it’s time for the reset and futureproofing to not let that clutter build-up happen again! And the fun part – refreshing your space for inspiration and ease!
- Clean! – Now with all that ‘stuff’ out of the way, it’s a great time to do the typical “spring clean” – dust and clean all the mouldings, wash the windows, wipe down the walls. (Live for Tomorrow products have your back! Toxin free, all-natural and strong! You don’t want to pollute your renewed space with chemicals, right? 100% green clean for the win!) (<cross link)
- Get inspired: Look with a keen eye at your new space. What can you do to improve it, both for function and for your style? Set aside time to search online (aka Pinterest) for inspiration for organizing each area.
“The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.” – Josiyah Martin
- Organize: Visit thrift stores, ReStores, and Facebook groups in your community to look for inspiring “organizers” to reclaim your space! Pro tip: It’s best to know the measurements of your space and have an idea of what you need first – but to not have anything specific in mind to start, as there’s really no controlling what you may find. Instead, go with an open mind and see what jumps out and resonates!
- Appreciate: Plants and artwork are two easy access items that can breathe new life into your home! Best sources: Plants – from local farmers, groups and growers; and Art – original art from local artists – and some real hidden treasures can also be found second hand!
“You should feel beautiful and you should feel safe. What you surround yourself with should bring you peace of mind and peace of spirit.” —Stacy London
Stage 4: MAINTAIN (BREATHE • CONTROL • DELIGHT)
Your space is organized and refreshed – now what? Now, you get to breathe!!! To maintain this new peace and order, there are some shifts that you may need to make in your way of living while still going with the flow. Here are some practical tips to integrate into your day-to-day:
- Follow “boat rules” – if you use it, you have to put it away – “A place for everything and everything in its place” (so-called “boat rule” because boat dwellers have such tiny functional spaces, it can get easily out of hand, plus things left out tend to end up on the floor in undulating waters!)
- Develop a 60 second habit – if it takes less than 60 seconds to put something “in its home” – put it in its home!! Keys on the hook instead of the counter, tax receipts into a folder rather than “the pile”, lightly worn shirt onto the hanger rather than the (chair, exercise bike, treadmill)…. You get the idea!
- Micro cleans – keep cleaning cloths close to hand (affixed to inside cupboard doors under kitchen and bathroom sinks are a great place) to wipe the faucet and counter after your morning ritual or the kitchen counter after you finished making dinner. Cleaning as you go keeps your space a happier place and less work when it comes time for a thorough clean.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci
In the language of Spring, sometimes it’s a matter of just planting the seed of awareness, and nourishing with objectivity, ideas and inspiration, then just a little “weeding” and you’re left with a gorgeous “bloom” to enjoy every day!
We hope this helps!
Onward with all the good things!