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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
let it go

Have trouble letting go of your old stuff? There's someone who can help with that...

Emma Gleeson is a professional declutterer. She’ll gladly help you throw out what you don’t want to.

shutterstock_334573904 Shutterstock / luanateutzi Shutterstock / luanateutzi / luanateutzi

GETTING THROUGH LIFE sees most of us acquire a lot of possessions.

Some are useful, some are sentimental, many are neither. Being honest, we’ve all probably looked at something we haven’t used in five years and thought “but if I get rid of it I may need it next week”.

Then five years later we have the same conversation with ourselves. It’s a vicious circle, and one that can lead to a home absolutely chock-full of stuff we don’t need.

Yes, we spend half our lives possessing things and the other half getting rid of them. Monica’s closet from Friends has more than a ring of truth to it.


But what if you simply can’t let go and are gradually drowning in a sea of unworn clothes, unread books, and boxes and boxes of, well, crap.

That’s a problem Cork-born Dubliner Emma Gleeson is having a shot at solving. She’s a professional declutterer by trade.

The roots of her business idea come from an interest in sustainability and the supposed “evils of consumer culture”.

“The idea for the service came to me about four years ago when I was doing my masters in the history of fashion in London,” the 29-year-old tells

IMAG0293 Emma Gleeson

Most women, and some men, have bulging wardrobes but still feel compelled to go shopping almost once a week for something new.
I was researching this and found that many women have clothes in their wardrobes that they no longer wear but cannot seem to get rid of. I found it fascinating. I wanted to start some sort of business helping people to get rid of things that are cluttering up their lives.

Now having returned to Ireland, she’s making that professional business a reality.

“I’m running it for both domestic and office decluttering for the past six months now,” she says. “I’ve received fantastic feedback thus far from clients.”

People really do seem paralysed by their clutter and don’t know where to start. I have an understanding of the psychological reasons why people hold onto certain things and feel my combined traits of being empathetic and efficient make me the ideal person to help.

A self-confessed reformed hoarder herself who “doesn’t like mess”, Emma’s motto is now that of 19th century English designer and novelist William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”.

GUYAT2 Give Up Yer Aul Tings / Facebook Give Up Yer Aul Tings / Facebook / Facebook

“I used to keep all sorts of things – every cinema ticket, scraps of fabric and paper – I hated waste. Eventually I got rid of everything except what was truly useful or sentimental.”

That being said, she still “loves things” and believes material culture is “central to human experience”.

“I’m not a ruthless minimalist. I think the things around us reflect who we are and the stories of our lives but the things that we really love can get smothered in a sea of useless junk we don’t need or even like,” she says.

As mentioned before she’s been running the service for about six months, initially as a way of paying the bills while she contemplated her next career move. Now it’s looking like becoming her full-time thing.

shutterstock_370757162 Shutterstock / trekandshoot Shutterstock / trekandshoot / trekandshoot

“From September I’m going to take it on as fully as I can. At present I’ve been working via word of mouth (she has business connections for office disposal where “confidentiality is key”) but things have gone so well – it’s something that can really help people,” she says.

Emma says a working day is never the same, and that there is no way to tell how long each project will take. She talks to her clients first, gets to know them and what they want from the process:

“It really depends – I went to a woman’s house a few weeks ago – we were at it 9am to 6pm and we only got her bedroom done – between old college notes, old babygrows from relations’ children, so many broken things – it was a really full-on job.”

Another client’s boyfriend was going to be moving in with her – and she had no room for his things!
When we got down to it she had odd shoes, empty make-up containers, Dart tickets from 2006, odd socks, stained clothes, the list is endless, all taking up space.

GUYAT Give Up Yer Aul Tings / Facebook Give Up Yer Aul Tings / Facebook / Facebook

By the time we’d finished almost half the stuff clogging up her drawers and wardrobe were gone.

This is far from unusual says Emma. “People call me because they know they need to get rid of stuff but can’t seem to get moving with it,” she says. “I’ve found people hanging on to old toasters, kettles etc. that they know will never be fixed but they feel unable to throw away.”

The psychological element of not wanting to let go is so real. People feel odd throwing things away. They can’t do it on their own.

The service cost €120 for a day of 9am-6pm decluttering, although it’s “a little more for corporates”.

“People’s houses are falling down with stuff that’s broken. They’re paralysed by it all. I just want to give people back their spaces,” says Emma.

I also really enjoy it! I leave at the end of the day feeling like I’ve really helped someone.

You can find out more about Emma’s service, Give Up Yer Aul Tings, here.

Read: Dread being a bridesmaid? This woman does it for a living…

Read: “Some people keep me as their little secret…” – What’s life like for a personal shopper?

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