APDO Spring Clearing Week: Making Clutter Count

At the Bonhams Plath Hughes Private View for the London Bibliophiles in 2018.

Last week was Spring Clearing Week, an annual campaign run by the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) to raise awareness of the need to Spring clear before we Spring clean.

This year, the theme was Making Clutter Count, and, since books are – of course – never clutter, I chose to focus on clothes and textile recycling. I was really inspired by the RSA’s new report Turning the Tide: Public Attitudes on Plastics and Fast Fashion, which found a gap between our desire to reduce the use of plastics and petrochemicals in our clothes and our awareness of how much we are actually consuming. It calls for “new measures to turn the tide, including a tax on virgin plastics used in clothing; a ban on marketing petrochemical-derived clothing; and a commission to prepare for the future of fashion.”

I also drew heavily on Orsola de Castro’s recent book Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act (Penguin Life, 2021). De Castro has been at the forefront of the slow fashion movement since the 1990s. Her book is full of hints and tips on how to “mend, repair and rewear” your clothes, as well as facts and figures on textile recycling, and advice on how to declutter your wardrobe more mindfully.

Preparing for the Week

As well as reading these two publications, on the build-up to Spring Clearing Week I tried out various apps to see whether I wanted to recommend them to people on Instagram. In the end, on Friday I chose to highlight @thredup, a survey you complete to find out how sustainable your wardrobe choices are; @goodonyou_app which provides information on how fair clothing brands are; and @30_wears, which allows you to photograph and diarise your use of each of your clothes. Apparently most women wear most garments only seven times before disposal, so, as its name suggests, the app aims to encourage them to up that to thirty wears.

I also did a lot of surfing the web (including APDO’s own recycling and donations hub for members) to try to find out which charities were still able to collect items for donation despite the Covid restrictions. It’s really important to do due diligence on charity bag schemes, as some collections made door to door actually give very little to the named charity. Some collectors are more conscientious than others about trying to have clothes reworn before looking to have them scrapped for recycling. And, clearly, the best route for anything containing plastics and petrochemicals is for it to be used to the point of destruction before being scrapped and repurposed.

During the Week

The APDO colleagues who run our Twitter and Instagram accounts both primed members in advance to be ready to take part in their #APDOClutterChallenge (links to Twitter – the Insta challenge was completed through Stories which is, of course, more ephemeral). Colleagues shared a range of resources, some of which were new to me. My favourites (in no particular order) are:

The APDO blog shared several articles throughout the week, including one highlighting Caroline Rogers’s recently published research into clutter and wellbeing; Linda Cavellini’s interview of upcycling and sustainability expert Lynne Lambourne; and two posts bringing together advice from a range of APDO members – ‘Decluttering During the Pandemic‘ and ‘10 Ways to Donate Your Decluttered Items That You May Not Have Thought Of!‘ I was lucky enough to have a couple of tips included in the second one – using Recycle Now to find local centres for recycling clothes and The Great Diary Project for family diaries.

Overall

This was the first APDO campaign week to take place since I became a verified member, and it was a great learning experience. I’m sure that some of my clients picked up tips directly from following the #springclearingweek hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, and all my clients will benefit from my own increased knowledge on how to make their clutter count. It was also a fantastic way to gain an insight into the things that my colleagues are most passionate about clearing out and organising – there are so many different people looking for help with so many areas of their houses that it’s really useful to know who has expertise in particular fields. Of course, the APDO Directory lets anyone search by particular specialisms, but there’s niche and then there’s niche … you can search for photo organisers, but not for librarians or archivists, for example.

Now I’m looking forward to National Organising Week in November … and, from a CPD point of view, to the APDO Conference next month.

Image: Photo taken by Daichi Ishikawa at Bonhams Plath Hughes Private View for the London Bibliophiles in 2018.


Tidy Beginnings Pricing

Some people ask why we quote by project rather than advertising an hourly rate. It’s a fair question.

This description from colleague @organised.joy sums it up: when you hire me to sort out your books you’re hiring a quarter century of experience as a qualified librarian. Quoting by project means you don’t pay my expert fees when I’m not using that expertise.

Last week included a couple of mug sorting exercises with virtual clients, another shed tidy and helping to decide and carry out a picture hang. I love a bit of variety, and I love being able to sort the spaces around the books and papers – that’s how Tidy Beginnings started, helping existing private library clients with their non-library work too.

As a working class person I used to be terrified of services without set price lists. It took me years to realise that while some bespoke products had inflated prices, others were motivated by a desire to fit the project to the budget of the client, not the other way round. As a customer the most cost-efficient prices I’ve paid have been to businesses who work this way.

Originally posted to Instagram.

Tsundoku Feedback

Thanks to @ebblake for this lovely feedback on the first trial run for our Tsundoku experience – and for sending the beautiful picture of her tsundoko pile ready for redistribution to friends (posted here yesterday).

We promise clients confidentiality and never post pictures without their approval. It’s really lovely that Emily is pleased enough to have added her Tsundoku experience to her stories and shared it with us.

You can book a discovery meeting for help sorting through your own TBR. Until we advertise the experience as a package, it’s available at a massive discount to clients willing to try something new and a bit different. Our usual private librarianship (collection management with or without cataloguing) and professional organising (decluttering and restoring order to any room in the house) and virtual organising services are available too.

Originally posted to Instagram.

Client Photo: Tsundoku

Tsundoku.

The morning after: client photo.

“tsundoku, noun ... the practice of buying  a lot of books and keeping them in a pile because you intend to read  them but have not done so yet; also used to refer to the pile itself.” —  Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus.

Huge thanks to my lovely client for trialling a new experience I’m developing to help people get to grips with the size of their To Be Read shelf, and for sending me this photo of their tsundoku – the pile of books I helped them realise they wanted to read when they bought them, but which they aren’t actually going to read any time soon (or possibly ever).

These are all heading off to new homes and my client has half a shelf of usable space. More importantly, the weight of all these books is off their mind, and they have a personalised plan for the order in which they will read their remaining TBRs.

If you’ve acquired more books during lockdown than you’ve had time to read, you may be interested in Tidy Beginnings’s new experience, which we’ll be announcing soon.

If you are really keen to shed your lockdown book weight and happy to trial a brand new service, get in touch to find out more and book a hugely discounted pre-launch session. Contact details on webpage.

Note: client has contributed photo and approved the text. We offer a confidential service and *never* share before photos. Everyone knows what an overflowing bookshelf looks like.

Originally posted to Instagram.

Tsundoku Experience Coming Soon

Book pile and quote card.

Really excited to be trialling a new experience for people who feel they buy too many books. First run-through with a client today, so more details coming soon.

For now, here’s some #wednesdaywisdom from Marie Kondo:

“Tidying books is a powerful means of self-discovery. The ones you choose to keep because they spark joy reveal your personal values.” (Joy At Work, London: Bluebird, 2020, p. 38).

Originally posted to Instagram.

APDO Directory Entry

APDO is the UK’s membership association for decluttering and organising professionals, and its directory offers the public a way to Find An Organiser. As well as my own specialisms in digital organisation, virtual services, public speaking and training, you can find organisers who work in areas including interior design, home staging; and working with people with hoarding behaviours.

APDO also provides information on what to expect when you book a professional organiser. As they say, “Finding the right organiser for you is a personal choice so it’s probably useful to speak or meet up before you start working together.”

I’m always happy to hear from potential clients. You can book a free discovery meeting from the link on the Tidy Beginnings page.

Tidy Beginnings Open for Bookings

Tidy Beginnings is open for bookings. An extension of my cataloguing work, it offers easy-to-access private librarian, professional organising and decluttering services.

Find out more here, and book a free discovery meeting to see if I’m the right fit to help you with:

  • decluttering your home
  • tidying up your workspace
  • organising your books and papers
  • moving – house / studio / after retirement (N.B. Not a removals service – we can help you plan, pack and unpack)
  • creating an inventory
  • preparing materials for sale or donation
  • cataloguing, where a finding aid and / or fuller inventory is required
  • any other activities you might expect from a private librarian, archivist or professional organiser
APDO logo

A verified member of APDO, the UK’s membership association for decluttering and organising professionals. APDO sets standards, provides professional development and supports the growth of the industry.