New Year, new start. And a new clear home after you’ve donated all the clothes and other stuff you didn’t want to charity. As legions of people become inspired to declutter after watching Marie Kondo’s new hit Netflix show, it is the charity shops that are suffering. In Australia, with only around 15% of donations received being resold locally, charities are drowning under the weight of unwanted stuff. And it costs money for charities to deal with stuff that they can’t sell on!
That charities cannot take
How do you declutter for good? Stuff often expands to fill the available space – and a year later another decluttering exercise is needed!
Why we are all decluttering – the Marie Kondo Effect
The new US-based TV show starring Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo (author of the best seller The Art of Tidying Up) feels like a gentle version of Supernanny but for sorting and organising your house. The first episode features a family with 2 kids and the second episode follows an empty nester couple who accumulated stuff over 20+ years of living in their house.
Both sets of people are taught the KonMarie way to declutter. This starts with closing their eyes to thanks to their house for letting them live in it. Then they go through every single one of their possessions, beginning with clothes. Only things that “spark joy” (e.g. the warm and fuzzy feeling when you see a cute puppy picture) are kept. If the possessions don’t spark joy, they are thanked for their service before being made redundant. You don’t need me to tell you that there were many many bin bags sitting on the kerb by the end of each TV episode.
I like the KonMarie method a lot as it forces you to think about each of your possessions. And it really contrasts with the shopping and consumerist mentality that results in our homes being filled with stuff we don’t need.
But, and here’s the but – what watching these people sort their clothes sparked in me (pun intended) was less of a feeling of what sparks joy, but more … what next? How are the people on the show going to make
Also, after say 2 hours of sorting clothes, I’m not sure how much I would be consciously thinking about whether something REALLY sparks joy … or if I just want to be done with the sorting.
Declutter and feel good
The idea of less stuff really appeals to me, but I think going from a lot of stuff to very little stuff can cause problems if:
- it turns into a “just chuck it” type exercise because tidying gets boring
- there’s no thought about what happens to unwanted stuff if it is chucked out (it all has to go somewhere!); and
- there’s not enough effort into breaking up with buying stuff (or acquiring by some other means) afterwards. It feels a bit like going on a diet. You’ve reached your goal after a few months of hard graft, then slack off again only to feel the need to try another diet later on down the line.
Clothes seem to be one area where so many of us have excess (myself included). There are just. so. many. clothes in the world. Producing clothes in the quantities dictated by the fashion
And dealing with unwanted clothes is just as big a problem. Donating to charity is
Maintaining your home after a
At a recent sustainable fashion event, someone raised that they had read that people completing consumer surveys would often say that they support buying higher quality clothes and less fast fashion. But buying behaviour as seen by demand and retail sales didn’t reflect that attitude and people bought stuff anyway! Perhaps it is a case of having all good intentions but online browsing or enticing shopfronts are just too much to resist.
One of the participants in the Marie Kondo TV show talked about her need for retail therapy, albeit she seemed to feel a bit guilty about it. Mass produced “stuff” like clothes are cheap to buy and readily available so why not clothes when you need your therapy?
I would love to see people thinking about how to declutter their houses for good. Rather than just focussing so much on the state of here and now. For me it comes down to thinking about more than just what sparks joy when you throw something out or buy something. Here are some ideas:
5 things to think about besides sparking joy
Do you have any more to add to the list? Have you decluttered recently or are you thinking about it?
- Consider what happens to your clothes when you chuck them. Can someone actually wear them? Can it be used for scraps? What recycling method can I choose (if I have a choice)?
- Watch the documentaries about textile production and dealing with waste to get a glimpse of the processing you as a consumer never see. As a starting
pointI’d go for True Cost, River Blue, and the BBC Secret Life of landfills. If you’ve never looked into fast fashion before, the Stacey Dooley BBC show was popular – the full episodes are not online anymore but there are youtube clips, e.g. here
- What other hobbies and activities can you do besides shopping? My
millenialsister tells me that mall culture in North America is a thing and I know myself that online shopping is all too easy to do. Fighting against this feels like going against the grain. But …
- Experiences are great for money spending without accumulating. Or maybe even just a walk outside (at least that’s free!)
- Unsubscribe from store email lists to avoid temptation from new stuff, discounts and fear of missing out. When it comes to fabric, also worth asking yourself, does fabric shopping make you happy?
PIN FOR LATER: