The Art of Tidying Up

Or shouldn’t it be ‘The Art of Not Buying Too Much In The First Place?’

Hand’s up who has watched Marie’s Kondo’s popular Netflix series? The one where she teaches us to only keep something if it ‘sparks joy?’ Whilst we totally agree with the sentiment that we should cherish our possessions and celebrate what we have, we can’t help feeling a little put out at the fact that she promotes sending so much to landfill.

in 2011 Marie estimated that her clients had already thrown away 28,000 black bin liners worth of stuff…and we shudder to think what that figure has risen to now. In one episode, a single family sent 150 bags to landfill, or we assume they went to landfill as no mention was made of the consequences of them bagging up this much junk. Instead, the series expertly slides over the “and then what happens to it?” question and instead we are encouraged to feel elated that the family have decluttered their home, learnt to really appreciate what they have and that they can kick start their more minimalist lifestyle.

It is quite scary to think about how popular #konmarie is on all social channels. We’re all sharing pictures of our beautifully folded t-shirts (great) and chucking out 50% of our belongings (potentially not so great). We shouldn’t be shunting our responsibility over the amount we own so easily and with so little care as to where our once-loved-but-no-longer-cared-for items end up.

Here’s what I did when I decided I wanted to live a more simple, un-cluttered life:

  1. Okay so this first one is a bit random, but bear with me. I live in London on a busy residential street and there are always families, school kids and YoPros walking up and down. Just because you’ve fallen out of love with your stuff doesn’t mean that other people might not put it to good use. This works so well with furniture, clothing, and cookware. I just pop it outside my house with a big “FREE. PLEASE TAKE ME” sign on it and it’s always snapped up within hours.

  2. Before sending all our clothes to a charity shop, which may not be the most sustainable way forward regardless, try popping unwanted items up on Depop or Ebay and anything higher end on Vestiaire Collective. If you’ve already decided to get rid of these items, don’t get complacent when it comes to selling them - keep the price low so that you can guarantee a sale. If you can’t shift everything, what’s app images to your friends and see if anyone wants some new threads for free. Old t-shirts that really shouldn’t be allowed to see the light of day anymore can be make into cleaning rags and handkerchiefs.

  3. Contact Terra Cycle to come and collect (free of charge) your hard-to-recycle plastics so that you don’t have to bin them because your local council wont pick them up.

  4. If you are lucky enough to live in a country village, advertise in the local paper that you’re having a garage sale, or get the details of your local weekend car boot sale and see if you can flog your wares!

  5. Find a clothes bank near you that will recycle and reuse your old textiles.

This article was contributed by @gracekingswell, Nutritional Therapist and sustainability advocate. Grace banned plastic from her kitchen years ago as the idea of it touching her food was abhorrent, but she’s become increasingly aware of her carbon footprint over the years and last year made the new year’s resolution to but NO NEW CLOTHES in 2019 (and hopefully forever!) It’s going well so far.