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Permaculture's 'Edge Effect' for a Decluttered, Delightful Fridge

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

When you open your fridge door, everything lights up. You see a 'tower of power' of beautiful food, stacked and ready to go. They are clamouring 'eat me, eat me', and a relaxed, satisfying dinner starts happening, no unwilling effort needed.

"Before Cecilia did our fridge, our marriage was broken' teases Simon.

Who'd have known it? Fridges are thrilling!

Cecilia's fridge declutter has no 'rules', just patterns. Who likes living under ill-fitting rules that someone else made up, that don't even work? Not me. I love patterns. Most living things do, and once they learn a useful pattern, they stick to it.

Permaculture gives us patterns that we can use for creating value. Rules are good for things that are predictable and constant, like physics. Patterns are good for things that are living, evolving, complex and unpredictable. Like life. Like you. And like your fridge.

To get a great relationship with our fridges I use all my favourite permaculture tricks: Zones, Reduce Usless Diversity, are favourites. But the pattern called Edge Effect is a star when it comes to your fridge life. Get your 'edge' right, and you'll be able to see everything in a glance, with nothing mysterious lurking. Fresh and alluring becomes your new reality, and from there, so many other parts of life and health and relationships become lighter.

What is The Edge Effect?

The border between two different environments is where the riches are. The banks where the land and river meet are where all the exchange happens, where animals go to meet and greet and sometimes eat each other. It's where the most diversity of species and liveliness can be found. So in a permaculture garden system, you would increase edge on purpose. You might shape your river to be curved and meandering rather than straight, or make a wide, stepped bank to get more shallows, more edge, and more yield. Clever! But everything works both ways. Sometimes the edge is where the loss is. So if you are designing something you don't want to dry out or cool down, you reduce surface area to volume. So as a designer of your life, always be asking yourself, should I increase or decrease my Edge?

The value of Edge isn't limited to the physical world. For example, if your work-life combines the skills and culture of two different worlds, in my case Permaculture and Japanese culture, this makes you uniquely useful, and that in turn makes you very free. Think of the areas in your life you are already an Edge Dweller.

Now let's bring more of that value-creating 'edge' to your fridge.

Be conspicuous, be consumed

The food you can't see gets forgotten. If it's hiding at the back, or in opaque containers, It's going to languish before it gets to fulfil its mission in life. What's its mission? To become you! To walk around as you, living out your dreams of a life of love. So let's not create this heartbreak for the food and the cook, let's make everything seeable. We do this by increasing the interface between the food and you, so everything is on the front 'edge', nothing invisible or unwanted.

Get a family of clear containers

Donate opaque and mismatched containers. Reduce useless diversity of colours and shapes, as these are confusing barriers between the food and you. Commit to a set of clear, shallow containers that are can be stacked. Matching containers will be your real estate, bringing calm to your food life for years to come. Now you won't need to burden yourself with remembering what you have and where. It tells you 'I'm here'!

Use shallow, not tall

A tall container becomes a monoculture that hogs the 'edge', selfishly hiding everything behind. Create a 'tower of power' with different layers of food showing themselves off, stacked in shallow, long containers. Tall containers spend at least half their time half-empty. What a waste of space! Divide big amounts of food into multiple shallow containers, so you can wash and refill them with something else each day. Then you have no Zombie space, no trapped, useless air in containers, and your fridge is going with the flow, like a lively river.


Declutter Your Body, Create a Garden of Food in Your Fridge

This Sunday, Nov 1st, my sister Katie and I are holding another fridge declutter and reset workshop, as part of our Permaculture for your home series. Learn how other Permaculture principles such as 'Zones' 'Reduce useless diversity' and 'Minimum fridge, maximum yield' can make your life, and fridge, wonderful. It's interactive and your whole being is invited: we get a new awareness of how we feel when we open the door, what we see, and even our breath gets in on this revolution. There is no recording afterwards, you have to be there, sharing your good ideas with the rest of us. We reset our fridges in real-time and amaze ourselves. It's a 'giftivist' event, so finances don't have to be an obstacle. Here is the 'Before' and 'After' photos from our participant Debbie, sent in the next day:

A month later Debbie says

" My fridge still looks and functions beautifully since the webinar. It is so easy to maintain now - I haven’t had to re-do the declutter at all. Stacking! Vertical space! Families! Aisles! These words have become an automatic way of thinking for me, so the order stays.

I told a friend about my fridge recently and showed her my photos, and a week later she excitedly told me that she’d been inspired to follow suit. This made my heart sing.

A decluttering, permaculture revolution beginning with the humble fridge :)

Debbie, you make my heart sing too, and yes, we are creating a revolution.

To join the webinar Declutter your body, create a garden of food in your fridge, click here, and make your fridge miracle real.

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1 Comment

Ena Ronayne
Ena Ronayne
Nov 21, 2020

Any poss you will be repeating this webinar? I missed it

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