Marie Kondo is making waves with her tidying up methods that she calls KonMari, thanks to the release of her Netflix show Tidying Up Withe Marie Kondo and her 1# best selling New York Times book of the same name. She has single-handedly created a revolution in organisation – but what do you do next once you’ve folded your clothes into little triangles and are ready to discard items with intention?
First up, you need to know the KonMari Method that Marie Kondo preaches. The KonMari Method encourages tidying by location, starting with clothes, moving to books and papers, moving into miscellaneous items that tend to build up in the kitchen and the garage, and then finally onto sentimental items. Marie uses this method to suggest that you only keep items that “spark joy” when you hold it (that’s right, you have to hold and focus on the feeling of each item you are tidying) and then discard the item if it no longer sparks the joy inside you. But before you discard the item, you have to thank it for its service to you.
But what happens once it’s been discarded?
In Marie Kondo’s best selling book, she describes how some individual clients have thrown out “two hundred 45 liter garbage bags in one go”. The problem with Marie’s methods is that she does not stipulate how to get rid of these items sustainably, and the idea of two hundred garbage bags simply being sent to the tip to continue to create a world of trash almost gave me a heart attack.
I’m all for throwing out junk, but these items must be gotten rid of in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way in order to make the KonMari method more ethically friendly. Papers, plastics, cardboard and other items can be securely recycled, compostable items put into the compost, and other goods such as unwanted clothes in good condition can be donated to local charity shops to do good for others. But think outside the box as well. Old towels and blankets are perfect for donations at your local animal shelter, and toys that are still in good condition can be donated to children’s hospitals. Old electronic equipment can be given to specific recycling plants that are reused in other creations.
Simply throwing things away is not appropriate – do your research and learn how to do the KonMari discarding in a way that’s good for the environment as well as your heart and home.
Buy sustainable storage items
In Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, she is a big believer in buying giant plastic tubs and storing the items in visible, easy to see ways, but look at all that horrible plastic! Plastic in this world is doing the environment a disservice, and simply using it for storage – while not being just a one use item – is still more plastic than we should have on this Earth.
Instead of storing in plastic containers, consider using more sustainable and recyclable containers instead. Wire baskets are a great way to still see what you have inside that are more useful than plastic, bags and glass storage are just as good to use in the home as they are in the kitchen, and recycling old boxes in the house are a perfect way to ensure things continue to get a good use after it’s first life.
Reconsider KonMari’s stance on books
Marie Kondo’s mantra that you should only have about ten books in your possession at any one time has bibliophiles breathing heavily. As much as she enjoys “waking up” the books, her method of discarding novels has brought out the inner fear of Nazi’s burning books. Many have proclaimed the idea of restricting your books to be a very Western privilege in a world where many don’t have access to books, let alone have more than ten.
I definitely have more than ten books in my household, but the weight of those I have read, had joy sparked within me, and kept are very low compared to the titles on my bookshelf waiting to read. I operate my books in two different ways: firstly, I don’t buy any new books (unless they are specifically hard-to find books that require it) and I only get books that are on my Goodreads “To Read” list. Sure, there are more than 100 books on my “To Read” list and I am adding to it all the time, but if I see a book in a bookstore that isn’t on the list I am not getting it until I determine it good enough to be added at a later date.
Secondly, I recycle my books through a used bookstore, meaning essentially I am “borrowing” books like you would in a library, but without the time limit. A local used bookstore I have will give you a hefty store credit for books you bring to them, so I tend to save up and bring the books in for the store credit, and then buy the books previously mentioned on my Goodreads list based on what is in the store at the time. At some stage, most of the books I want to read end up here so it is a great way to access these items.
But even if you dont keep a lot of books like I do, there are some people who thrive on the joy of entering a full scale Beauty and the Beast style library. If that is what you’re aiming for, don’t discard your books simply because they take up space – make them the focal point of your whole room and your decorations! Just maybe use simple minimalist furnishings around them so you don’t feel overcrowded.
Don’t try to “keep up”
True minimalism is slowing down and decluttering your life so that you have time for the more important things – spending time with your family, climbing a mountain, watching the stars. Things you love and the activities that you do. So while it makes sense to ask yourself if it truly sparks joy and discarding items you don’t need, the importance isn’t on consumerism and buying more items you don’t need. The problem with Marie Kondo’s method is that it doesn’t cease our pull of consumerism and we still want more, more, more. Owning less is great, but wanting less and being happy with less is better.
This is where my motivation for hygge comes in. Hygge is about being cosy and content with your life and the way you live it. It is reducing your expectations and focusing on what makes you happy. It’s about focusing on habits and not trying to “keep up with the Jones”. We’re not all Kardashians, and 98% of the world are pretty happy that way, so why try and live the fast paced lifestyle if it doesn’t make you happy?
Declutter, but declutter with intention to fill the time you would usually spend with things on people and hobbies that you love instead. The KonMari method is a great way to tidy your home, but it needs to be way more than simply sparking joy in plastic boxes.