A photograph of guest Claire Birnie, project 3000, in a white top smiling

Episode 62 – Project 3000 with guest Claire Birnie

In this podcast, Lesley talks to Clair Birnie. Clair is the owner and head organiser at The Tidy Life Project, an Edinburgh-based professional organising, decluttering and minimalism coaching company. 


Never before in human history has the average family owned so much stuff. In fact, professional organisers have estimated that the average home holds as many as 300,000 items. With such an overwhelming number of belongings, it is no wonder that so many of us are seeking to declutter and simplify our lives. And back in 2018, Claire started a journey to live with less and inspired lots of other people to do that with her through her initiative Project 3000. Participants came from all around the world and it was a huge success.

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Useful Links and Resources

PROJECT 3000 – A GUEST BLOG BY CLAIRE BIRNIE

Claire Birnie is an Edinburgh based Professional Organiser who undertook Project 3000 back in 2018. Claire set herself the challenge of getting rid of 3000 items in a year. Here she explains all. 

The Problem


There is a trap that many of us fall into in the modern world. We have been taught to associate happiness and success with material goods and consumerism. Advertising inundates us with the message that our problems can be solved by simply buying more. 

It is a trap that I see with my clients on a daily basis and it is one that I previously found myself stuck in. I realised that I had to make a major change. 

The Solution


On New Year’s Day 2018 I set about changing my life for the better. I decided that in just one year I would declutter 3000 items from my home - that works out as almost ten items per day and was an ambitious goal. I had previously read that the average family home contains as many as 300,000 individual items. While I haven’t been able to verify this statistic since starting my challenge, I am convinced that the average home is stuffed full of far more stuff than is necessary or cherished! Letting go of some of these unneeded and unloved items can be a huge relief. 

The Rules


  • Set a decluttering target and a timeframe to achieve it in (I recommend 3000 items in a year but you can aim for more or less). Having a targeted quantity and timeframe helps keep you motivated.
  • Only declutter your own possessions or ask for permission when decluttering your partner or roommates’ belongings. Involving children in the process is a great way to teach them to declutter and donate. 
  • Aim to donate or recycle whenever possible. Landfill is unavoidable in some cases, but ideally should be seen as a last resort. Get creative - I was able to compost an old straw hat!
  • Go back to areas you previously decluttered and have a second, third or fourth pass. The more you declutter, the better you get at making decisions on what you truly want and need to keep. 
  • Share your successes and progress to social media, using #project3000 if you choose (this is completely optional) or check out the hashtag for inspiration and accountability. 
  • If you don’t reach your target in time, don’t be hard on yourself. Celebrate all that you have achieved and the space that you have created in your life!

The Experience


When I began the challenge in 2018 I could have never imagined what was about to follow. Within weeks people from around the world were participating in my New Year’s resolution. The hashtag was cropping up on social media posts in languages I didn’t speak, participants were messaging me from around the world about their successes and journalists were contacting me for interviews.

 

The growth and success of Project 3000 confirmed to me what I already suspected: many of us are overwhelmed by stuff but don’t know how and where to start tackling the problem.  

 

By November 2018 I had met my target, with a whole month to spare. I quickly realised that I was not finished and as of December 2019 I am less than 600 items away from completing my second - and likely final - round of the challenge. Other participants have made it as far as 10,000 items decluttered from their homes. 


Is it for you?


Having too much stuff is a nice problem to have, but it is still a problem. Living with less can be a transformational experience. For myself and other participants, Project 3000 has improved our lives in ways we never expected. 

 

1. Less time cleaning and tidying

2. More money to put into rainy day savings or to help pay off debts. 

3. A clearer focus on the things that really matter.

4. A greater sense of calm and contentment. 

5. Fewer arguments with spouses and children. 

6. Increased gratitude for and appreciation of the things we are blessed to have. 

7. Enhanced awareness of the environmental impact of consumer culture. 

8. Significant reduction in the desire to and enjoyment of shopping. 

9. Less time spent searching for things. 

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Leave a Reply


  1. This has really struck a cord with me. I’ve done a rough calculation and I think I’ve decluttered around 330 items from my home in 6 weeks. I am now keeping a tally to see how much I manage to declutter in 1 year. I’d like to achieve the Project 3,000 in 1 year if possible.

  2. Hello Lesley, as most are busy on Chrismas Eve, I sat down and listened to your Project 3000 interview. Then the lady singing about her clutter which made me smile. I now have incentives for the New Year. Merry Christmas.

    1. Hi Ann, try it’s taken so long to reply! Hope you had a lovely Christmas and we are so happy you took time out to listen on Christmas Eve. The video was hilarious wasn’t it? Best of luck with your decluttering in 2020 and we’ll see you around!!

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