Before you start declutterring

by Nyamka Bayanmunkh in , ,

Note: These are my notes that I collected from the Melbourne Minimalist Meetups! This one is from The Expert Series: Organising with Tanya Lewis. The last one I shared here was on Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). 

Some of the minimalists from MMM! ( photo courtesy of Tanya Lewis)

Some of the minimalists from MMM! ( photo courtesy of Tanya Lewis)

A few weeks ago we had Tanya Lewis from EcoOrganiser, a professional organiser,  come and speak with the Melbourne Minimalists.

I met Tanya through strange circumstances at The MInimalists event in Melbourne. During the meet and greet  one of the people  who came up to me was Tanya and her previous client Barb.

Tanya was the person who took the initiative to send a press release to the Herald Sun on living with less, and because of that this article came about which I had the pleasure to be featured in alongside Tanya and Barb.

Being like minded people we  decided to meet up for coffee and juice to powwow. I was so impressed by Tanya I asked her to come  and give a few pointers in organising and decluttering without costing the earth. She obliged and us MMMers learnt some great things like the 10 environmentally friendly techniques that help with getting organised and staying organised. Oh, and they all happen to start with Rs (I have strong positive feeling towards alliteration). The 10 Rs are

1. Rethink

Think about how much stuff you really need? Do  you really need 30 pairs of shoes? Why do you think you need so much of the same thing? There's always a deeper reason why we do what we do. We need to ask th

2. Responsible

Realise that there is no throwing away. Everything has to go somewhere, and when we are declutterring that somewhere is usually the landfill. With a just little bit of effort we can donate them somewhere  where they can have another life. Other options include upcycling, repurposing, and repairing

3. Refuse

As we declutter we need to address the inflow of stuff so we can maintain in the future without our stuff from taking over our life again.

The easiest way to reduce the inflow is to start refusing things that add no value to our lives. Start saying no. This can apply to all aspect of your life- whether they are newsletters clogging up your inbox, to events and responsibilities that clutter your schedule. Prioritisation is where it is at!

4. Repurpose

Please get rid off stuff that doesn't have any use for you, but there are times where things can be repurposed into something great and useful with just a little bit of effort. For whole lot of repurposing inspiration click here

5. Reorganise

There's an efficient way to store and do things. Give your things a constant home that makes sense in a way that they are easy to find and use. The idea is to not have things but not use because it is too much of a bother to get them and use them.


Love the fabric of a shirt but it’s fraying at the edges? Turn into something else that adds value to your life. I turned one of my old 100% cashmere vests  into a hot water bottle cosy. It had several holes, so I altered it a bit and now I have super soft hot water bottle cosy. 

Giving the stuff you loved another life by repairing or restyling reduces waste and preserves our finite natural resources.

Just because something has a hole or a button has fallen off doesn’t mean you have to throw it into landfill. Learning how to sew a button can save your favourite sweater and add some more time before it really bites the dust.  If you don't have a clue on how to repair or restyle  ask a friend or a family member for help and offer to do them a favour in exchange (Ask, and you shall receive).


Often we overestimate our needs. That’s why we buy too much, order too much and have a junk drawer full useless crap.  Be honest with yourself and  get to know how much you need - you’ll even save money with this trick. 

8. Reuse/Refill

Have a jar of handwash? Just use the container again  You can get them refilled for a lot cheaper. This used to be a bit difficult but more and more places are popping up where you can take your own containers. If you are in Melbourne or Sydney try The Source and Shop Neutral at Prahran Market to get your jars refilled.

Furthermore, don't dismiss the humble library card. These days the library is not just for borrowing hard copy books but also a good place to pick up DVDs, audiobooks, and ebooks ( with the latter you don't even have to go into the library #winning!).

9. Recycle

Recycling should be the last step after going through the all the other Rs. Recycling is usually better than throwing away but it still takes energy and effort to recycle. If you follow the above tips the amount you are recycling would decrease considerably. 

N.B Make sure you know what you can recycle at home, and what materials require a different service.

10. Reward

Lastly when you have finished doing any of these Rs reward yourself  for finishing the task. Simplifying and organising is not an exercise in self hating and punishment. It's about creating a better life and future  by getting rid of some useless crap and instilling good habits for a better tomorrow. So, do something that's fun and rewarding when you finish an organising task. My favourite reward is dancing like a loon for solid amount of time.

What would you do to reward yourself after getting organised?

With love and simplicity,