The Decluttering Method by Marie Kondo is world-famous, trademarked and closely related to minimalism but with an approach that should spark joy. And here is our sustainable and conscious take on this.
We are sure you already know Marie Kondo and her decluttering empire.
For Stor-ey we couldn’t walk around her as her concept is close to minimalism and standing for a more conscious lifestyle. But for this article, we have given the principles of the KonMari Method a sustainable touch…
But let’s start quickly with: Who is Marie Kondo?
Marie Kondo is a Japanese woman, who studied at Harvard and has managed to create around herself an enormous brand (in case you don’t know Marie Kondo, you might remember when Emily Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls“ has decluttered her life after Richard died? Yes, she followed already back then the KonMari Method™).
And Marie Kondo is ever since famous for her unique decluttering method.
Marie Kondo has been named under Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, she is a bestselling author and has her own TV show in the US. I think we can kind of agree when we say, she made it.
Marie Kondo’s method is not Minimalism
Marie Kondo is the queen of “decluttering your life” but she is clearly distancing herself from minimalism because her concept is not about having less but it is about having just things you cherish.
The recipe behind it: order makes happy! According to the Japanese proverb, “The disorder in a room is equal to the disorder in the heart.”
So a cleaner home equals to a clearer mind, and a clearer mind equals in more happiness and productivity. And isn’t this what we are all looking for?
And here why we love Marie Kondo’s Method from a sustainable and conscious perspective:
Her trademarked “KonMari Method™” consists of 5 steps, and we will walk you through each of them:
1. Imagine your ideal lifestyle
This might be our favourite step: the first step in her tidying method is to imagine your ideal lifestyle.
This is, no matter if you want to go through the whole KonMari Method™ or not, a good exercise for yourself and a question we should really ask ourselves from time to time.
Asking yourself this question, can also help you figure out how you want to perceive your life in general but also in terms of a more sustainable approach – Do you really need 20 different hair products in plastic packaging in your bathroom? Or are you using in the end always just the shampoo and some conditioner? Maybe a shampoo bar will be enough for you. Or you would like to grow your own herbs but you don’t have space in the kitchen for it? Maybe during the decluttering process, you will be able to find the space you need.
2. Declutter in categories
Don’t declutter by room, but by category, in the following order (from the easiest to the hardest = most emotional):
- Komono (a.k.a. Miscellaneous Items)
- Sentimental Items
The KonMari Method™ consists of one important task:
Pile up all the items from one category.
Often things from the same category are spread around the whole house. For example, most of your clothes might be in the wardrobe but surely some clothes will be in the hallway or also in the laundry. That’s why Marie Kondo suggests to sort out via category and not location. Now get all your clothes and put them on one pile.
This is a great exercise to realize how much we actually own of one category, which will ease the process of getting rid of things (and maybe also change your perspective in the long term).
Like Susanne wrote here in her article, she didn’t know how many clothes she actually owned because she rotated summer and winter wardrobe (since both would never fit in together in the wardrobe).
A golden rule: If you forgot to put one item on the pile (except it is in the laundry) it was not worth remembering, and therefore has to go.
3. Keep what sparks joy
What makes Marie Kondo’s method so good and effective, is not to think about what you would like to toss, but to think the other way around: What would you like to keep?
And this is a great principle. Can you imagine just having items in your house that you like? The things in your open shelves are just things that make you happy when you look at it? Or you look inside your wardrobe and you like everything (and everything fits)? No fuss, what to wear.
Different to minimalism, you don’t need to own just the necessary. If you love your embroidered jacket, great! Keep it! Even if you don’t want to wear it every day. This spark of joy is what we’re looking for.
4. Let go with gratitude
This is an amazing aspect of the KonMari Method™, a moment of gratitude for the items you’ll sort out. With all the cheap fast-fashion items and feeling of disposableness of most of our belongings, it is nice to value again the items we are having.
Thank your things, before letting them go.
5. Everything has its space.
Drawers will suddenly become your best friend, and we don’t mean how you might have used to. Treat your belongings well, don’t squeeze them in some random corners in your house any more. When everything has its space, you can easily put things into place and hand in hand with this you’ll start to treat them better. And did you know that the essence of KonMari Method™ lies in her folding technique?
And once your house is 100% decluttered, Marie Kondo swears, that she never has to come back to declutter the same house again.
What does that mean for us from a conscious and sustainable perspective?
This means, that we might understand the benefit of having less and own just the things that make us happy. The things that we don’t need and don’t like, might not find their way again in our house. We might be more conscious when making purchase decisions, and we might be more conscious also when we make gifts to others.
It doesn’t mean that you will never have again things in your house you don’t need from a Marie Kondo perspective, but we promise these things will become less.
But before you head to declutter your own home now, we’d like to add one important information!
According to statistics 85% of clothes we donate end up in landfills, so choose wisely where you are donating clothes in your region.
Even if Marie Kondo is no big fan of hand-me-downs, because, in the end, the other person might just take an item, so that it is not getting tossed. Try to find other solutions of people who really would like to keep your things. Marie Kondo suggests asking people who are close to you before you start decluttering if there is something specific they need? Once you step over an item they asked for, put it on the side, e.g. if your mother told you she is looking for a new sports leggings and you are sorting one out. We also suggest you, if you are getting rid of an item that some of your friends always liked a lot, put it on the side and ask them if they want it. If not, don’t put it back into your wardrobe!
We suggest you to read also our article “how to declutter sustainably“