When I first heard about the art of tidying up, I looked around my house in shame. A smorgasbord of dirty laundry, toys, and old mail was piled in odd corners. It wasn’t an episode of Hoarders, but it felt icky. Chaotic. Stressful. I watched the show, and I realized that I spent at least two hours every day just picking stuff up, then another 30 minutes complaining about how we had too many toys, too many dirty dishes, and that the laundry was never ending.
It had to STOP. So I started the Konmari method, and room by room, began to look at what we had acquired over the years in a whole new light.
And you know the rest from here. I love this. This brings me no joy.
We have four different logging trucks. This sweater has a massive hole in it.
Before long, I was surrounded by objects, most of which were still usable, that I no longer wanted in my house. Even as waste conscious as I am, a small part of me just wanted it out of there.
That’s the problem — the Konmari process is a deeply psychological one, one that connects our emotions and feelings to our possessions. When we make the decision to get rid of something, we want to do so in a way that feels final, complete.
And many of us pile it on the curb.
Don’t Throw It All Away
I was there, staring at my bags and piles, and I realized I had some figuring out to do. I did it the wrong way guys — several rooms and categories at a time, very quickly and efficiently, but the result was that I wound up with a yard sale volume of unwanteds in the middle of winter.
Not super great.
Avoid the piles. Avoid the husband grumbling about your garbage bags of shoes in the garage. Heed my words — you need a system.
#1 — Follow the Structure
In her book, and now in her drop-everything-and-binge Netflix series, author Marie Kondo works on decluttering categorically, separating the process into these distinctive parts:
- Komono (miscellaneous)
Whatever you do, don’t just do an entire room at a time of every category. It’s overwhelming, and you’re likely to wind up with a lot of random things that are going to be difficult to categorize when it’s time to sell, repurpose, or recycle it.
Clothing, then books, then paper, and on and on.
#2 — How to Handle Clothing
Admittedly, what I wound up getting rid of the most was clothing — things I didn’t love, things the kids had outgrown. It sat in intimidating piles around me before I was fully prepared to deal with it.
Then I assigned it a few categories of its own:
I selected items that would have a good resale value in their current condition and started putting them together in lots to list on the Facebook Marketplace.
For clothing that was still wearable but not the highest quality or most expensive, I donated it. And anything that was too worn or damaged to be used again, I set aside to be recycled.
You can recycle clothing a few ways:
- The North Face’s Clothes the Loop Program (drop off)
- H&M’s clothing recycling program (drop off)
- Terracycle’s clothing and fabric box (mail-in)
#3 — Books Are Never Trash
I don’t think this is a thing, right? People don’t throw away books, right?
I didn’t wind up having any books of my own to get rid of, but there was an enormous pile of children’s books, some salvageable and outgrown, others quite literally chewed up and destroyed.
The chewed up ones that weren’t covered in glitter or metallic paper I designated for the recycling bin. The ones that were no longer being used, I set aside to pass on to some younger family members, we donated a few to the local women and children’s shelter, and the rest were donated to the local library.
#4 — Create ‘Fresh Start’ Boxes
I’m in a lot of buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook, and what I’ve found is that there are a lot of people on these pages looking for help who quite literally can’t afford to go to the thrift store or drive across town to the Salvation Army.
New moms, teenagers getting their first apartments, people who suffer from housefires, unemployment, tough times. I categorized some of the stuff by need into boxes and listed them for free on those pages. It cleared a lot of space really quickly, and it felt so good to help some people out.
Make Your Goal a Zero-Trash Konmari Binge
I know it’s hard, I know you want it all gone, but trust me — patience, planning, and organization will keep you from going off the deep end and just chucking everything into the dumpster.
Set a goal before you start to find a way to recycle absolutely everything. From electronics to cigarette butts, there’s a way to recycle almost everything on the planet right now, thanks to organizations like Terracycle.
Get your boxes, get your plan, and get this place tidied up.
Show us your Konmari before and after on Instagram and Facebook, and tag us in the post! @AvocadoGreenMagazine and @Terracycle