Boise Donation Resources

Hi all, Cary here!

Today I wanted to share some of my top resources for where to drop your post-decluttering donations in Boise.

I’ve been working on growing this list for the past few years, but I also know that it took us the better part of a decade to secure our dozens of donation partners in the Bay, so please email me if you have additional suggestions.

The impetus for this post was the recent gathering of over 800 brilliant, accomplished, and civic minded folks at the 2019 Women and Leadership Conference here in Boise over the past week.

Two of the keynote speakers were none other than Obama’s Director of Communication, Jennifer Palmieri, and the former Secretary of the Interior and current CEO of The Nature Conservancy, Sally Jewell. It was basically a trifecta of three of my favorite things: Obama, communications, and the environment. To say I was fangirling hardcore would be an understatement:)

I also had the immense honor of speaking to over two hundred of the attendees at two different sessions on Thursday.

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I was just blown away by how open, wise, and curious both audiences were, not to mention how thoughtful their questions were. One question that I received several times (as I shared just how crucial Kyle and I believe donating to be to the decluttering process) was, “This sounds amazing. Where can I bring ______ here in Boise?”

So, as promised to my beautiful attendees, I’m excited to share my current list below!


The ARC: Clothing, accessories, books + media, housewares, and toys.

BabySteps: Infant and young child clothing, diapers, wipes, kid cups/plates/bottles/bibs, baby toys, young child furniture.

Book It Forward!: New or gently used children’s books and text books.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters: Sports equipment, board games, and craft supplies.

Dress for Success: Women’s professional clothing such as blouses, dress slacks, skirts, suits, dress shoes and accessories in petite, regular, and plus sizes.

Habitat for Humanity: Appliances, building materials, cabinets and furniture, décor and flooring, decorative hardware, electrical, lawn and garden, millwork and doors, paint sundries, plumbing fixtures & hardware, tools & accessories, and windows.

Idaho Youth Ranch: Sports equipment, clothing, appliances, electronics, toys, yard equipment, decorations, houseware, furniture. In short, almost everything.

Interfaith Sanctuary: dental hygiene, razors, diapers, toilet paper and more.

The Library!: books, records, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, software, and magazines in good, sellable condition.

The Reuse Market: Paper, fabric and notions, artist’s mediums, mat board, framing, sign making, architecture/design materials, office/school supplies, media/tech, metal, and wood.

The Reuseum: Computers, consumer electronics, industrial machinery, spare parts, robots, spacecraft, and flux capacitors.

Women’s and Children’s Alliance: generally, WCA is in need of bedding, towels, toiletries, and toys, but please check here for their current wishlist, which is updated weekly.

5 Questions to Help You Declutter all. those. Kids. Toys.

This article was originally published on mindbodygreen.

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Parenthood is wonderful and joyful and exhausting and hard.

As soon as you think you've got it figured out, something—your kid, your body, your schedule, your home, your child care—shifts. Parenthood for me has also been about embracing seemingly contradictory ideas, like: Clear rules and guidelines make for resilient parenting, and flexibility is key as our family continually evolves. Parenthood is a sea of grays: It's about making and then breaking rules as you and your child grow and change.

And yet, I've found that there is an enormous benefit to developing ground rules, even when you know they will be bent. So when it comes to my home's play space, rather than saying "we can only have so many toys" or "they can only be made by this brand," I've instead created questions I consider before purchasing a (new or used) toy or accepting a hand-me-down. Please take any that suit you, alter as needed, and add your own as you see fit!

1. Will it last?

This first question helps me weed out the majority of toys I'm not certain about. The big winners are well-made toys in natural and durable materials like wood, wool, silk, or food-safe silicone. These materials make for sturdier toys that are often much safer than flimsy, plastic, disposable ones. When your child can drop, step on, "accidentally" throw, and chew on toys without fear of breaking them or getting sick, it's a win.

2. Do we—the parents and caretakers—enjoy it?

This might be controversial to some parents, but I refuse to have toys that I don't like in my house! Our main play area for my child Lark is essentially half of our family room, so its contents are constantly on display. I believe that like adults, like children, enjoy looking at beautiful, charming toys.

For me personally, this rule eliminates:

  • Items that are ugly, garishly painted, excessively large, or just plain unattractive.

  • Battery-powered toys. This includes anything that lights up, moves, or makes noise on its own. It's nothing against the "beep beep" sound—I just want the director of the action to be my kiddos and not a battery. So things like maracas and xylophones are A-OK with me. Also, if my kids are like me, they'll quickly become overstimulated and overwhelmed by all the commotion, so I'm protecting the attention span of all family members with this rule.

  • Things that are overly or excessively gendered. This doesn't mean that pink is forbidden in our home but that all ranges of colors and interests are represented. This currently includes dinosaur puzzles and a purple dump truck, a blue baby doll and rainbow blocks, books and farm animal figurines.

  • Items that contribute to clutter or might be unsafe. Until my kids are able to clean up fully after themselves (and maybe not even then), we have nothing with teeny, tiny pieces, glitter, or poorly affixed accessories in our home.

3. Does it support open-ended play?

It's important to me that my kids can engage with their toys in a variety of ways—that they can assert their imagination and creativity. For example, consider two different baby dolls: one in a nightdress who has a smiling mouth shaped to accept a bottle and whose eyes close when lying down, another without a mouth or expression on their face dressed in plain clothes.

The first doll is easier to engage with right away, but it's hard to imagine a context where this same baby is sad, or is a father, or is eating a delicious meal because of how she is dressed and her expression. It has a predetermined type of play it fits into. The second doll is a blank slate onto which any story or role or emotion can be projected. In general, objects that aren't overly specific in role or intention free up the child to be more creative and imaginative. Other examples of open-ended objects include blocks and curved pieces of wood, fabric squares or scarves, molding clay, and dirt, sand, or just about anything else you can find outside. 

4. Is it worth the trade-off?

One principle I come back to a lot in my work as a professional declutterer is that not having an item does not automatically represent an absence or a lack. It represents space—which, as a mom, I have a whole new appreciation for. I find that a few moments of downtime, an empty shelf, a cozy nook—these little things make my days sane. 

Is this item more valuable that the empty space it will fill?

We don't often consider that the alternative of not having something isn't necessarily a glaring absence but is open space. Which to me is very valuable. So consider: Is this item more valuable that the empty space it will fill?

5. Does it align with our values?

This question requires a bit more digging and intentionality. What are the values that you believe in as a family? What are the values that you are hoping to pass on to your kids? In our family, I try to find toys that encourage cooperation, kindness, curiosity, and nonviolent play. In considering books for our little library, for example, I look for stories that share those aforementioned values and that highlight a wide range of people and experiences. (Some of my favorites are Julian is a Mermaid, Mommy, Mama and Me, Little FeministAll Are WelcomeSusan Laughs, DreamersBe Kind, If You’re Going to a March, and My Princess Boy, but I'm always looking for other suggestions!)

What to do with toys you're phasing out? Donate!

I'm not sure how this became such a popular myth, but kids toys can absolutely be donated. There are exceptions to the rule, of course: Broken toys and toys that cannot be cleaned (think a very well-loved stuffed animal) are generally not able to be passed on. That being said, wooden and plastic toys, dollhouses and baby dolls, cars, trucks, and art supplies are joyfully accepted by a number of organizations locally and nationwide, including: Goodwill and Salvation Army; local child care facilities or schools; SAFE (stuffed animals for emergency); local churches, temples, mosques and associated charities; and local children's and family organizations and shelters.

These five questions give me enough structure to make good choices in the moment and simultaneously provide room to adjust based on feedback from my kids and my own evolution as a parent. I hope they do the same for you! 

6 Tips to Travel Like a Minimalist this Summer!

Lake Atitlan - Paul Castello

Lake Atitlan - Paul Castello

Packing light isn’t something that comes super naturally to me, but the more I practice, the easier it becomes.

Proud mom moment, making a stranger take a photo of me and my babies, I mean luggage.

Proud mom moment, making a stranger take a photo of me and my babies, I mean luggage.

Every time that I force myself to creatively pair items together from a streamlined selection, I experience the lightness that comes from having to manage less stuff, overall. It also dismantles the myth that I need a certain variety to be comfortable or feel self-expressed. That’s the thing about striving for a simpler, sustainable lifestyle — it has always been a practice for Cary and myself. We were not natural-born minimalists; we don’t claim to have been space-optimizing, life-hacking little toddlers. I think it’s important to remember that. New Minimalism is a philosophy and a practice that comes from a slowing down and a paying attention.  It takes an iterative approach and is a muscle that you strengthen over time. 

Travel is the perfect (set amount) of time to experiment with less.

While it is my tendency to pack more than those “extreme” minimalists out there, I have solidified the habit of never checking a bag, so automatically that means I have to fit everything in a carry-on size. I’ve also found that I’m simply not a fan of wheeling around a hard case with wheels. I know!  The look so chic!  But it’s so much easier to navigate stairs and subways and buses with everything strapped to my back. So instead of a rolling bag, I hack my duffle bag into a backpack by using the carrying straps as shoulder straps. It’s not the most comfortable option but as long as I can carry it on both shoulders, my chiropractor says it isn’t terrible for my spine. For me, at this point in my life, the added mobility is more important than being uncomfortable here and there (talk to me in 5 years and it might be a different story). So while I’m “young” and able-bodied, I’ll carry my stuff.  For this trip, I’m traveling to Mexico and Guatemala for 3 weeks, and packed in a small duffle bag and small backpack!  I’m was pretty proud of myself when I was all finished and ready to go.

How can you fit all your items into a small carry-on bag? 

Outlined here for you are 6 tips to help you achieve your minimalist packing goals (and relish in the subsequent freedoms):

1. Assess your activities and adjust your wardrobe accordingly:

Notice the duffle isn’t stuffed to the brim which allows for some goodies to come home with me!

Notice the duffle isn’t stuffed to the brim which allows for some goodies to come home with me!

This particular trip includes exploring Mexico City for 10 days, Antigua for 4, and then some quiet time at a yoga retreat in the mountains of Guatemala. I opted for Converse sneakers over running shoes since I’ll be mostly in cities. If I go for a hike or two in the mountains, I’ll just wear the Converse. Normally I would only bring one pair of yoga leggings on a trip. In this case, I packed two knowing I would be practicing everyday for 6 days. I also plan to buy a pair of huaraches (leather sandals) while traveling so I didn’t bring any sandals with me to avoid carrying duplicates.

2. Check the weather:

You may find that unusual weather means you need more, or less layers than expected, which also means you can slim down on the types of clothing you were initially expecting to wear. in doing so I realized that I needed one thin, cashmere sweater and a light shell for rain, and less hot weather, summery garb.

3. Plan to hand-wash:

I will be gone for 23 days and packed 5 pairs of underwear and 4 pairs of socks! Hand washing can easily be done in a hotel sink and hung to dry. Select underwear made from quick-drying fabric to ensure drying is a breeze (hehe, get it?). My favorite, everyday underwear is made by Lululemon. It is tissue thin and will dry overnight even in colder, damp climes. For socks, if I were going to a colder climate I would probably bring 1-2 more pairs, but I imagine this will suffice.

4. Slim down your reusable/zero-waste arsenal:

Just one (insulated) water bottle can be used for both hot tea and cold drinks. Toting around a metal fork sounds crazy but it’s super handy and I seem to get by without a spoon. Chopsticks are a nice alternative, too. A cloth napkin doesn’t have to be used exclusively while eating, and can be used for all sorts of things. An extra tote bag that folds flat will allow for flexibility when you need more capacity (say you want to pick up some groceries as you pass a market).

5. Multi-purpose, non-toxic soap is your new BFF:

Did you know you can wash your water bottle, your clothes and your face with JUST ONE soap?! My favorite is Follain’s Everything Soap, which Cary first turned me onto. I must admit that while at home I love my capsule fleet of face products for my morning routine, but while traveling I channel Tim Gunn and make it work.

6. Lighten your mental load:

Jet planes emit a LOT of carbon into the atmosphere. Feeling the weight of guilt knowing that you are contributing to carbon emissions? Offset your carbon impact by purchasing carbon credits, or donate to a cause that is directly addressing climate change and remediation. As a member of 1% for the Planet, New Minimalism chose this year to donate to the San Francisco Bike Coalition because the safer the streets, the more people riding bikes and walking, and the less carbon emissions in our beautiful city.

What are your travel-light tips?

Please jump over to Instagram to leave your comment!

As you know, we are continually optimizing and would love to hear them!

Antigua - Paul Castello

Antigua - Paul Castello


This post originally appeared on the Project Juice blog, Ritual Wellness.

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When we talk about spring cleaning, we think of dusty closets, old clothing and sweeping out those crumbs from behind the fridge. But what about the food pantry?  This part of the house is often overlooked when considering spring cleaning, yet it’s a vital part of your day-to-day experience. At New Minimalism, we have worked with many clients to declutter their pantries.  It’s definitely not the most-requested category to address, but because of its daily interaction, the results are always the most appreciated. 

We would venture to say that regularly tending to your food pantry is even a basic building block of healthy living and eating. It brings attention to the food that you have on-hand, and helps to stimulate ideas of what to cook at home. Contrary to the general assumption, a lean pantry can actually challenge you the most, creatively, because you have to work within constraints.

The pantry is not the most-requested category to address, but because of its daily interaction, the results are always the most appreciated.

7 Tips to Refresh Your Pantry

  1. Start fresh — Remove all food items from all the cabinets and drawers and place them on the counters.  Use a step-ladder to reach the items hiding at the back of the upper cabinets. This forces you to assess each and every item, like the ones you might glaze over out of habit. Don’t forget about the spice collection and the condiments in the refrigerator.

  2. Consider the planet during this clean out — Compost any food that has expired.  Rinse and recycle plastic and glass containers.  Warm water and soap works well for cleaning out glass jars and bottles.

  3. Release the need for variety — Follow the lead of zero-waste pioneer, Bea Johnson, and simply keep one variety of food at a time. Choose one type of grain to use at a time and only store this option until you are finished with it. For example, you have a large jar of brown rice.  Then, brown rice is your “chosen grain” for the next few recipes, and you don’t buy another grain until you are finished with the rice.  This approach keeps your pantry items super fresh, and simplifies your decision-making when it comes to what to cook.

  4. Break the rules — Part of the fun of cooking is to try new things.  When following a new recipe, try to use some items you have on hand, rather than run out to buy the exact ingredient that the recipes calls for.  If your recipe calls for white vinegar and you only have red, you could try using the red vinegar for a twist on the recipe.  This also might create your own version of the recipe with something you typically have on-hand, making it easier to cook this recipes in the future.

  5. Glass storage containers — Using your own glass containers keeps food fresh, longer and just looks nice.  When using your own containers, it can take some practice to know the right sized container for the type of food, but don’t be dismayed.  Just know this is part of the process.  It can be helpful to “set it an forget it” rather than constantly shuffle from one size container to the next. If you normally buy 24 oz. of granola, keep the granola in a jar the correct size for 24 oz, even when there is only 4 oz. left. This will simplify your brain, and will reserve the space for when you re-up on your Project Juice  granola. Otherwise you can get into a constant shuffle that isn’t actually all that impactful in the long run.

  6. Aspirational food items, and what to do with them — During your clean sweep, you may be reminded of a food item you brought home at some point to try out a new recipe — let’s call these aspirational food items.  But it’s been six months and you still don’t feel like making Aunt Jean’s casserole with the specialty noodles.  Give yourself a deadline to use these items. When I did my own pantry clean out, I was reminded of the rice paper I bought to try my hand at homemade spring rolls.  Now that they are back in my attention, I’ve pulled the rice paper down to the counter top.  If I don’t use them over the next week, it’s time to give up on that food goal and donate or compost.

  7. Sharing is caring — My neighbors love to be the recipients of food that is still good but I, for some reason, personally don’t want to eat.  I was avoiding gluten for a time and realized I had two boxes of gluten-filled crackers.  My neighbor happily took them off my hands.  If I had waited around until I was eating gluten again, they probably would have gone stale.

The change of season from winter to spring is a natural time of renewal — the days grow longer, flowers and trees start to bloom, everything turns green—let’s embrace this change with a pantry spring cleaning of your very own at home!

5 Decluttering Tips You Won't Find in Marie Kondo’s “Tidying-Up” method

5 Decluttering Tips You Won't Find in Marie Kondo’s “Tidying-Up” method.

Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, “Tidying Up” is another cultural phenomenon!  We love that Kondo has taken to the screens of aspiring minimalists everywhere.  No matter where one are on their journey towards an intentional lifestyle, more exposure to the philosophies of decluttering means more people thinking twice about their consumption habits which means progress towards the paradigm shift required to live as a sustainable species here on planet Earth!  We have lofty purpose-driven goals over here at New Minimalism.

Back in 2015 when Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up first came out Cary and I were thrilled to witness the widespread public interest that followed.  We had been practicing our method of decluttering for a few years at that point, and when Cary and I would describe the work we did at New Minimalism, we would be met with puzzled looks.  Contrast that to the reaction after Kondo’s book began to circulate, and it was like night and day. “Decluttering” had become a familiar, household word that stimulated a ton of conversation. From the beginning we affectionately described Marie our “Japanese spirit sister” (we are officially fans!).  But there are some super important aspects where the KonMari process falls short.  Below we’ve described the five decluttering tips that you won’t find in the Kondo method.


1. The promotion of environmentalism and removing toxins from your home.

Kim Warp, The New Yorker, April 2019

Kim Warp, The New Yorker, April 2019

Obligatory rant: We started this company because we care about the planet and know that consumption rates are a considerable part of the equation.  Sustainability imbues every part of our business: We donate and repurpose everything that can be, even the unexpected items: art supplies and office paper are donated to a local school; food goes to a local soup kitchen; we even connected with a local organization who gladly accepts pre-owned socks that are clean and in good condition! 

Halllllo?! It’s 2019. If you haven’t read the news, we are literally drowning in plastic. The fact that Marie Kondo overlooks any sort of environmental stewardship in her process is shocking to us because it is the #1 reason that motivates us to do what we do at New Minimalism.  

The piles of plastic bags filled with garbage and donations in the TidyingUp show makes our hearts hurt.  Single-use plastic bags are a BIG “no, no” in our world. Instead, you can use a use a large bin that you have on-hand and simply take the bin back with you after wards.  We also use large paper “lawn” bags and cardboard boxes when we can’t repurpose what is on-hand at the client’s home.  We promote cleaning products that are free of fragrance (not laced with endocrine-disrupting fake fragrances). Curious about that last sentence? Open this link to watch a 7-min. "Story of Cosmetics" video on the subject … after you finish reading this, of course!

Thankfully the KonMari process doesn’t promote buying new containers and instead advises to use what you have.  But we wish that there was discussion of material choice and the importance of whether an item can be donated, repurposed, recycled, or composted.

2. “staging” should be orderly and systematic.

This type of staging is hive-inducing for most!

This type of staging is hive-inducing for most!

The first step of the New Minimalism decluttering process is “staging”. This is when you pull everything out that belongs to a particular category from where its been hiding in various parts of your home — for clothing you grab your jackets from the front closet, the ski clothes from the attic, the t-shirts in your dresser and anywhere else clothing might be.  At New Minimalism we stage items in a super methodical and organized way, so as to not overwhelm the client and increase the feelings of chaos that likely already exist in abundance. We neatly stack all pants together to make the decision-making process for the client more approachable — it is easier for your brain to understand what you have. You can easily pull out your never-fail-guiding-light-favorite jeans to compare them to the less-than-ideal / ill-fitting / tired AF jeans. 

An orderly start also initiates the process of respecting the object by placing it with care in an orderly way. Rather than pile your mattress high with a mountain of every single piece of clothing you own and then pick away at it piecemeal, we think systematic and orderly staging is a vital component to tackling your decluttering projects.

3. The indispensable value of an outsider’s perspective

“Oh, now you need to make a ton of difficult decisions? See ya later!” Marie and her assistant leave the client for the hardest part! Decision-making is often the most difficult part of decluttering and is usually why a client has hired us in the first place.  I can’t imagine piling the bed high with a mountain of clothing and then saying, ok BYE!  Good luck! We are there to guide the decision-making and help the client see their blindspots that got them into this mess in the first place! If you can’t hire us, you can trick a friend into helping you! Having someones else there keep you on track and out of the black hole known as memory-lane and other common distractions.

It is also through the decision-making process that we as the designers of the space come to deeply understand how a client needs to use the different rooms in their home and what objects they need access to daily, monthly, etc.  It is from this detective work we can create new systems that will actually work for the clients’ particular needs.

We are there to guide the decision-making and help the client see their blindspots that got them into this mess in the first place!

4. Folding isn’t always the answer.

The vertical “file” folding method that Marie Kondo has become famous for is a smart optimization of space, for sure.  But in the typical American household it’s not a lack of space that’s the issue.  It’s too much stuff in the space to begin with. We even say at New Minimalism that a complicated organizational system (or complicated folding, in this case) is often indicative of needing to do a deeper, more thorough decluttering.

Take, for example this badass lawyer client of ours who lives in San Francisco.  We were decluttering this working mother’s wardrobe and it was clear from the state of her room that she lead a busy life that resulted in clothing chaotically strewn about the master bedroom.  At work she was killing it, at home it was a disaster zone.  

KonMari folding method doesn’t work across all scenarios

KonMari folding method doesn’t work across all scenarios

Looks great. But can we talk about the fact that YOU HAVE 32 T-SHIRTS?!!!

Looks great. But can we talk about the fact that YOU HAVE 32 T-SHIRTS?!!!

After discussions on the value of slowing down to “end the cycle of busy” and a deep clothing purge, we were able to easily fit about 10 cotton shirts in a drawer in her dresser.  I observed, “So it looks like folding is not a priority for you.  Would you say this is true?”  She laughed at my phrasing and agreed, so I gave her “permission” to let the cotton t-shirts float free as contained chaos within the single drawer.  Her eyes opened wide and she said, “Wait, so I don’t have to fold?! Wow, you just blew my mind!”  It was like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders at this fact.  In this case, a “contained chaos” approach works.  And since with this client we were starting at a beginners level of organizational prowess, it would be unrealistic to ask her to fold her shirts neatly. Baby steps.  She’s not going to go from throwing her clothes all about her room to neatly folding cotton t-shirts in a dresser drawer.  Getting the clutter under control and manageable is the first step in the overall behavior shift that will translate into keeping an orderly space. This will improve over time, and with commitment and desire from the client. The main takeaway is that the vertical folding technique of the KonMari method works in some cases, but should not been seen as a cure-all storage solution for every item in your home.

Getting the clutter under control and manageable is the first step in the overall behavior shift that will translate into keeping an orderly space.

5. Design matters!

We detail 12 Design Principles in   our book!

We detail 12 Design Principles in our book!

What about the design of the space after your decluttering sweep?  Many of the spaces either feel bare and bereft of character or don’t feel different at all.  How about the rearranging of furniture? Repurposing that gorgeous rug as wall-hanging piece of art? A fresh coat of paint? When you thoroughly declutter, you have to redesign the space to accommodate the new needs.  Tricks like placing your dresser in your closet, displaying everyday objects as art or repurposing sentimental items for decor are overlooked parts of the KonMari process.  We have 12 Design Principles in the New Minimalism book that tackle this subject head-on.  We recommend spending time and effort on redesigning the space so that it retains a warmth and character and actually inspires New Minimalism clients to continue to care for their spaces long after we are finished working together.

We love hearing from you! Did these 5 tips deepen your own decluttering insights? Please share on Instagram your own decluttering tips :)

A Pro Declutterer Takes Us Through Her Studio Apartment — And Spills How She Keeps It So Tidy

All photos by  Ryan Devisser

All photos by Ryan Devisser


Kyle Quilici knows a thing or two about maintaining a dreamy home. As the co-founder of New Minimalism, a decluttering and redesign company, and co-author of New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living, Quilici spends her days helping other people get organized for good. Her own apartment, a tiny San Francisco studio she shares with her boyfriend, is the ultimate test of her skills. Here, Quilici shares her top tips for keeping even the smallest of spaces looking clean and pristine.

What are three words that describe your design philosophy at home?

Simple, functional, and cozy.

What decluttering tips do you lean on living in a smaller space?

I co-founded a company called New Minimalism, so if it's not already obvious, I care deeply about intentional spaces and mindful consumption! But that's not to say that it comes 100 percent naturally to me. It takes some work to maintain a space like this, mostly in the form of keeping a high standard for what is "allowed" in and regularly removing items if they are no longer useful to me.

If I had to boil it down to just one of the 12 principles found in our book, "A home for everything" is essential and just plain necessary to maintain sanity. It's actually a blessing to have such a small space because it forces us to consider what we have around us.

What criteria does a new item (furniture, accessories, etc.) have to fit to come into your space?

I think it can sneak up on you: the ease with which items come in—the thoughtful gift from your friend, the "perfectly good" (yet insanely hideous) shirt from your company event, etc. It's a regular habit to notice these clutter sneak attacks and not let them linger

Now that we have lived with less, we actually prefer it. So this motivates us to refrain from acquiring in the first place. At this point, anything new that comes in is likely replacing something else. If I'm inspired by something out in the world—let's say a vintage, chunky wool sweater—I'll get rid of a sweater that has been loved and is ready to move on to a new owner.

What habits have helped you share a small space with your partner?

We seem to have similar personal tidy factors (PTF). Our preferred levels of order and cleanliness are aligned, so that is hugely helpful. We also have spaces that are totally one person's domain: his and her sides of the closet, his and her secretary desks, etc.

The entire point of decluttering in the first place is to spend less time managing your stuff.

How often do you declutter your space? Can you walk us through your cleaning routine?

Keeping clutter at bay requires some regular maintenance, but it shouldn't be overwhelming. The entire point of decluttering in the first place is to spend less time managing your stuff!

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I think what often gets overlooked is that your home first requires a deep, thorough purge to get to the point of maintenance. Rules like "1 in, 1 out" can only work if you've completed a thorough decluttering to begin with. If you find you are spending too much time managing your things and maintaining your home, it's a sign that a more thorough decluttering is in order.

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For cleaning, I like to turn on music or a podcast and open all the windows. After dusting I use a simple water, white vinegar, lemon, and essential oil solution to wipe down surfaces and the floor. We also don't wear shoes in the house, so that seems to help keep the floors cleaner for longer.

What's the oldest thing in your home? Newest?

The oldest is probably the wooden headboard. It used to be a drying tray on an apricot farm. After the apricots were picked, they would be placed on these wooden pallets to dry in the sun. The newest is actually a vintage lamp from an estate sale…so "new" to us.

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What noises can be heard in your home? What smells?

We are lucky to live on a quiet street. During the day we often have the windows open to listen to the birds. We make dinner at home most nights and like to listen to disco music or something fun. Sometimes you'll smell a fire or Palo Santo.

What's the most sentimental thing hanging on your walls, and what's the story behind it?

We each have one family photo hanging on the wall opposite the bed. His is with his mom and two brothers at the beach. Mine is a black-and-white photo of my mom's mom on her wedding day.

How does your home promote health and wellness?

We don't have a TV, which is nice because it doesn't become the default to watch something at night. Streaming something on the computer still feels like a treat! Cooking at home is a priority for us, and it makes us feel so much better than eating out a lot. Nontoxic, fragrance-free cleaning supplies and beauty products are the norm here. Now that I haven't used toxic, fragrant products, my nose and skin have become really sensitive to them.

What's the best compliment you've ever received on your space?

I like when friends say it doesn't feel a like a studio. We can accommodate 10 friends for drinks and hangs; they all casually lounge about the love seat, on the rug or on the bed. The layout of the apartment is super smart (we credit the architect who designed it!), so the orientation of the rooms helps it feel open and airy, despite the small footprint.

Professional's Workshop with Shira Gill is back!

Closet Makeover5.jpg

The Professionals’ Workshop with New MinimalismShira Gill is back by popular demand! ⚡️

Online, Tuesday, March 19th @7pm PST ✨


Professional organizers, coaches, home decorators and stylists, zero-waste educators, minimalists or those aspiring to be any of the above. 

You will learn some of our best practices with clients, and then we'll open it up to an extended Q and A. No topic is off limits - from budgeting to scheduling to generating new clients and programs.

 With a combined experience of over 15 years in the industry, this workshop is guaranteed to add value to your freelance, home-based business.

We are here to serve you! As such, there will be plenty of time allotted to answer your specific questions.  Get them ready!


Shira Gill is the founder of Shira Gill Home, a lifestyle brand focused on clutter-free living, that merges minimalism, home organizing, and styling. She is the founder of the Virtual Closet Makeover Program and her work has been featured in GoopStyle Me PrettyWho What WearMy Domaine, and Rue Magazine. She is also a contributor to Real Simple Magazine,  Parents Magazine , My DomaineSunset Magazine, and other national publications.  

Kyle Quilici is co-founder of New Minimalism, a home decluttering service based in San Francisco, CA.  She co-wrote, New Minimalism, Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living.  New Minimalism has been featured in The New York TimesOprah.comS.F. ChronicleSunset Magazine, and The Huffington Post. She gets excited about creating beautiful and functional spaces by-way of removing the excess. Environmentally focused, all viable goods from her sessions are donated to organizations in need. 

3 Common Decluttering Mistakes (And How To Get Over Each)

This article was originally posted on

image //  via

image // via

As a minimalist and a professional declutterer, I've seen firsthand how changing your space can change your life. I've seen just how powerful the transformation from a cluttered and overwhelming home to one that is simple, beautiful, and streamlined can be.

The process of creating these spaces is actually quite simple: Step one is to go through your stuff. Then, you keep the very best of it—the items that are your favorite, that inspire and delight you, and that are useful to you right now—and donate the rest.

 But just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy. Our relationship with stuff can be complicated!

According to one new poll by Porch, a digital network of home professionals for hire, over 61 percent of us are ashamed of the extra stuff we hold onto. Let that sink in.

So why do we do it? Why do we hold onto stuff that makes us feel so bad? 

Imagine a baseball cap. An objective observer might note that the cap is worn out, ragged, and ill-fitting. But to the owner, this is the hat they got on their first date with their first love. It's the hat they were wearing when their team finally won. It's the hat they always grab when they go to the beach. Or it's a hat that works perfectly well and doesn't need to be replaced, thank you very much.

All of those reactions to the cap are actually about much larger forces: our relationships, our sense of self, our values. So maybe you know the hat is on the fritz, but it's still hard to let it go.

Porch also detailed three "reasons" or mental blocks that we most frequently use to convince ourselves to hold onto items. Their findings aligned completely with my experience and the archetypes I detailed in the book I co-authored with my business partner, New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living.

The good news is that these blocks can be fairly easily worked through. With self-awareness and self-kindness, you can release these shame-inducing items and create the home you've always dreamed of.

Here are the three main reasons people give for holding onto clutter, and how to overcome them:

Reason No. 1: "I might need it someday."

Archetype: Practical

Practical people are mind-driven, tend to be logical, strategic and pragmatic; they see potential use in all objects.

The key for the Practical personality is to reframe what exactly makes something useful and to elevate your standards accordingly.

So rather than asking yourself if a third box of paper clips is potentially useful, ask yourself if those items are useful to you right now. Consider not just the costs of perhaps needing to replace something someday but also the costs of keeping items that you don't need. How much space do all of these items take up? How much time do you waste hunting for things you do need or wondering what you have around?

Reason No. 2: "It was expensive."

Archetype: Frugal

Frugal types tend to be very self-aware and clear on their priorities. They are intentional about where they spend their precious resources. They don't like the idea of wasting, whether that be money, time, or energy. This gets tricky when Frugal folks come up against items that aren't useful or wanted but for which they've invested precious resources.

The most important lesson for the Frugal archetype is self-forgiveness.

It can be frustrating to have made a purchasing "mistake." While you can't go back in time and undo that action, you do get to choose how you feel about it moving forward. You can keep items you regret and feel a pang of guilt and shame each time you see them. Or you can acknowledge the sunk cost, internalize the bigger reason this investment didn't pan out, and let the item—and your negative feelings—go and vow to do better next time.

Reason No. 3: "It brings back good memories."

Archetype: Connected

Connected folks are heart-led; they value relationships and shared memories above all else. In general, if objects elicit positive feelings, this is a good thing. But homes oriented toward memories can quickly become museums of the past that don't allow space for new experiences and relationships.

Allow one to stand for many.

Don't feel like you need to part with everything from your beloved grandmother or treasured travels. Instead, select an item or two to represent the relationship or experiences you want to recall. Rather than sticking all of these items in a closet, choose to display and interact with those couple of items and then graciously let go of the rest.

Welcome NYTimes Readers!

The New Minimalism Book, click to purchase.

The New Minimalism Book, click to purchase.

Wow, oh wow. Cary was interviewed by THE NEW YORK TIMES for an article on digital decluttering.

This was the top of our dream list (besides being interviewed in person by Oprah or meeting any member of the Obama family). It seemed impossible when we began this blog in 2011. It seemed like a million miles away, when our book was just one long Google doc. But here we are! We’re incredibly grateful to Brian Chen for the interview and to all of you who’ve been cheering us on.

If you’re new, welcome!

To learn more about creating a beautiful, simple, streamlined life, read our bookNew Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living.” (Penguin Random-House 2018), or our read more here, on the blog.

To read an excerpt of the New York Times article, continue below.

With a new year and a new Netflix show that features the Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo on the art of “Tidying Up,” many of us are experimenting with how to simplify our lives by purging our homes of unwanted possessions.

But what about the stuff we don’t see?

Think about the digital junk we hoard, like the tens of thousands of photos bloating our smartphones or the backlog of files cluttering our computer drives, such as old work presentations, expense receipts and screenshots we have not opened in years.

In addition to the digital mess, tech hardware adds to the pile of junk that sparks no joy in our lives. Everyone has a drawer full of ancient cellphones, tangled-up wires and earphones that are never touched. And the things we do use every day, like charging cables strewn around the house, are an eyesore.

Why are people so terrible about tech hoarding? Cary Fortin, a professional organizer for the company New Minimalism, summed it up: “We don’t really think about the cost of holding on to things, but we think about the cost of needing it one day and not having it.”

Food Packaging: 4 Ways to Reduce Waste in the Kitchen

At the start of the new year, it’s a perfect time to pause and take inventory. Acknowledge the ways in which you are crushing it in life, as well as examine the ways in which you are just gently squishing it…think weak hand holding a stress ball. From this quiet, retrospective place can you set bold goals for the year ahead.

Aside from my perpetual goal to “improve my Spanish and regularly meditate” (ambitions that have been on the list for years now…hmmm…), I had to think, what goal resonates with me this year? What is something that internally motivates me and I can actually put some mettle behind? The answer came easily when I looked in my trash can:

Strive for zero-waste in the kitchen.

When I examine our household “waste stream”, most of the culprits that are destined for the landfill are in the form of food packaging.

Do a quick audit for your own household waste. Yes, go to your trash can and dig around a little bit. Gross, yes, but remember, only you are to blame for just how gross your trash is.

Our itty, bitty trash bin.

Our itty, bitty trash bin.

Side note - Diligent composting of food scraps means that I can safely rummage through my trash without fear of encountering anything too disgusting. Add the fact that we don’t eat meat or dairy at home, and it’s pretty tame in that little, ol’ rubbish bin.

Our bin is the size of small planter pot. Using a strategically small bin reprograms the brain to what feels like an “appropriate” amount of trash. All of the sudden it becomes unreasonable to add one of those Barbara’s Cheese Puff bags and take up the whole bin (more on this later). In the photo, we are repurposing a plastic ice bag as the garbage bag. When we don’t have a plastic bag to repurpose, we use the compostable BioBag’s so we an send landfill-bound waste down the chute in our building.

When you add on the holiday hustle and the irregular grocery runs that accompany it, it is really easy for food packaging to creep back in and suddenly be a “thing” again. I proclaimed to my boyfriend after looking at our trash bin that we were officially re-instating the goal for zero-food-packaging-waste in the kitchen (thankfully, he hails from the mountains and adores Mother Earth and so is naturally on board).

There are the tried and true tips: buy from the bulk bins, use glass jars to store your food, and cook more at home. But, when I look at my own trash, I have some specific culprits. Below I’ve outline 4 of my personal weak spots and how I plan to fix them:

These bags instantly make our trash full. Not acceptable!

These bags instantly make our trash full. Not acceptable!

1. Where I get stuck: Snacks

We are not a huge snack household, but I definitely like to have something on-hand. Namely, Barbara’s Cheese Puffs. If you know, you know. They are painfully delicious. And today, I looked at a bag in the grocery store, took a picture of it, and WALKED AWAY. This is the #1 culprit to dashing my zero-waste dreams. So I resisted. Instead, I filled a brown paper bag with salty, crunchy plantain chips from the bulk bin. This will satisfy the snacking desire without the plastic bag. And in the meantime, I’m going to relentlessly submit anonymous comments to the makers of Barbara’s Cheese Puffs to request sustainable packaging.

Also on the snack list is finding a local restaurant where I can buy tortillas from using my own bag.

2. Where I get stuck: Recycling too many glass bottles (vinegars, olive oil, sauces).

It’s time to get to cut back on my consumption of vinegars, oils and sauces, even if they come in recyclable containers. The aim is to just keep stocked one primary vinegar at a time, master recipes using it, and move on to another vinegar for the next phase. Hot sauce, well it’s going to take a while to get through our now-hearty stash, but I’ll try my hardest (insert sweating emoji).

3. Where I get stuck: Caught at a store without bulk, when we “need” something like, tahini.

I think the biggest improvement here will come from creating a shopping routine. The challenge of a super flexible work schedule is that I go to a variety of stores, depending on where I am in the Bay Area and for different purposes. I need to create a routine and simplify this so that I don’t cave and buy a package of rice when I’m at a store that doesn’t sell it in bulk. By creating a routine of where/when to buy certain goods, this will remove the inevitable run-around and hopefully lead to overall feelings of sanity. We eat a lot of soba noodles, so finding that in bulk will be a top priority.

4. Where I get stuck: Recycling too many glass bottles (WINE).

Wine deserves its own category. When it comes down to it, this is what mostly fills the recycling bin. After a quick search, I found a local purveyor of wine who refills bottles: Tank 18. They have monthly BYOB refill events, and you can bring any empty wine of bottle and they will fill and re-cork it for you! Amazing! It’s on my calendar for later this month…in the meantime, dry January???

The thing about recycling


Yes, recycling is better than not recycling. But, recycling takes up a lot of energy: water and transportation costs, mainly. In case you didn’t hear, back in Jan. of 2018, China stopped importing plastic recycling (hmm, is it any wonder why? We were sending barges upon barges of dirty recyclables, much of which were contaminated so that they couldn’t even be recycled). Before this, China previously took about 50% of the world’s recycling. Which means recycling will become more expensive, and our solutions will have to be more localized. Like, deal with your own trash, people.

But, this is progress. China refusing our barges of recycling is progress. Feeling the constraints of our ecosystem and taking action (even if it is reactive) is progress.

More good news:

  1. The European Union banned an array of single-use plastics by 2020.

  2. Taiwan also banned plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic utensils by 2030 (too far away of a deadline, but at least it’s out there)

I recently had a (somewhat heated) debate with a young, educated (white male) from New York City who was humble-bragging that his friend was pioneering a new “superfood “ mushroom dust product thingy. I said offhand that I hoped his friend’s little packets would be made of compostable materials. This New Yorker was pretty adamant that this was a pointless pursuit and would have no impact on the environment. Obviously, I disagreed and said debate ensued.

It is this PRECISE, shrug-it-off, export-it-to-China, I-can’t-make-a-difference mindset that got us into this huge mess to begin with. Even more surprising, this New Yorker is a surfer, whose partner teaches mediation for a living…seemingly intentional people who like the outdoors, right?

So why the indifference? What is the disconnect to feeling like your actions don’t collectively have the power to make a difference?

I am not leading a 100% zero-waste life, but I am trying. And I hope that I am setting an example by sharing tips to continue to decrease my own food packaging consumption. Let’s be strive to be active participants in this equation! In the words of Lauren Singer of Package Free Shop,