Decluttering During Quarantine

How To Make The Most Out Of What You Already Have

So many times people keep things because there is a sentimental attachment to a moment or desire, and all these memories and expectations linger in the space in physical form, often known as “clutter.”

In my work as a “decluttering doula” I help my clients release and re-home what is no longer relevant in their lives, and reorganize what they actually love and use so that they can get the most out of each item.

Corinne at Emily Swietlik’s Studio in New Orleans.

How do we stay inspired, creatively motivated, and to be frank, *SANE*, in a time without social gatherings, restaurants, museums, or hugging? One positive thing about this whole “plague” situation is that many people are finally having the time to reflect and reevaluate their work and personal lives. 

Just in time for Lockdown 2.0, I wanted to share some of my tips for organizing and using items you likely already have around instead of spending your money on new plastic things from the Container Store. With many more months of alone time on the horizon, I highly recommend taking some time this winter to go through your home or studio and make sure you actually *want* all that stuff you have hidden in boxes, shoved in the back of your closets, and forgotten about in storage units. You may not even realize how much these items weigh you down energetically. Commit to clearing them out of your life and stepping into YOU 2.0 through digital clothing swaps and trades on social media, selling things on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Poshmark, Ebay, or donating to local non-profit thrift shops instead of corporate chains like Goodwill.

TIP 1 : Since plastic free grocery shopping isn’t really an option in pandemic times, put those big plastic salad containers to good use.

TIP 2: Talenti Ice Cream containers are the best for tiny items because the cap screws on and they are clear. Remember : “Trash” is a concept and “garbage” is a resource.

TIP 3 : For organizing fabric, separate your pieces into categories by size. Fold the bigger pieces as best as you can so they can all be stacked upright and visible at a glance. Check out Marie Kondos videos on folding techniques for this. Once you have things folded, keep solid colors together, patterns together, and put the biggest fabrics in the back so the smaller pieces are easier to access in the front of the drawer. For the tiny pieces, keep a “scrap” pile so that you can use them for smaller things or eventually stuff them into a meditation cushion or dog bed if you amass too many.

TIP 4: 3 of my favorite non-plastic upcycled storage solutions are wine crates (large), shoe boxes (medium) and cigar boxes (small). Call around to local wine shops and see if they sell crates, and same thing with cigar shops to get nice wooden boxes that will last a lifetime. For the wine crates, you can screw handles to either side to make them easier to lift up and move around.


It is so much easier to make work when you know what supplies you have and you are able to easily access them when you are in the creative flow. It can seem like a daunting task to go through everything and decide what to keep and what to get rid of, especially when artists see potential in so many things. My advice is to focus on what is *currently* inspiring you and what materials you see yourself using in the near future. As artists we go through many different chapters in our work and collect different types of supplies… but sometimes we simply don’t get around to using things and we need to be OK with passing them on. 

Taking responsibility for your “stuff” doesn’t have to be a burden, just think about who could use the things that you no longer want and know that you don’t have to keep things just because you acquired that at one point. With so many kids doing school from home these days, I bet you have someone in your community that would be grateful to receive art supplies that no longer inspire you, and why not put things to good use instead of letting them sit in your studio for another five years?

If you are looking for more support and guidance on your decluttering journey, as well as resources for being more conscious of your impact on the earth, you can check out my online class via Patreon where I go through room by room and give zero waste and organizing tips. Soon I will be adding more lessons specifically about organizing for artists and also how to host your own Instagram yard sale with more details about how to ethically re-home all different kinds of items after doing a big purge.

Corinne Loperfido is an artist and activist from New Orleans, LA. She recently built an installation at Meow Wolf Santa Fe called Trash Temple, which is made entirely out of objects you would find in a landfill. Her work also expands into video, performance and as social impact initiatives where she helps people declutter their spaces through her creative organizational methods.