What Marie Kondo taught me about conscious consumerism
Note: I had this sitting in my drafts for half a year; I just couldn’t find the right time to hit publish. But with the release of Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show that everyone and their mom are watching (me included), I decided there was no better time! Enjoy!
I have always been a messy person. Every space I’ve inhabited—my childhood bedroom, my college dorm room, my current apartment—has been a victim of my tendency to cover every horizontal space with stuff.
For most of my life, I didn’t mind; there was a method to the mess. I kind of always knew where everything was, so why bother tidying up?
But once I started living like an adult, with my partner and a cat, in a tiny studio apartment, my own messiness started to frustrate me. Coming home to a messy space after a day of work is just not conducive to a peaceful, relaxing evening…and although I tried to be tidier, sort of, it became abundantly clear to me that I really had no idea how.
So, with an admittedly skeptical mind, I read Marie Kondo’s famous self-help book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
And, I am now pretty convinced that tidying up will change my life. Surprisingly, I also learned a thing or two about conscious consumerism from Marie Kondo.
Many of you probably already know the basics of the Konmari method: You go through your belongings, one by one, hold it in your hands, and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If the answer is yes, you keep it and find it a home. If the answer is no, you throw it away.
It may seem antithetical to the spirit of sustainable living to throw away a bunch of your belongings, but the Konmari method isn’t just about getting rid of stuff.
The Konmari method forces us to confront our past decisions, to hold them in our hands one by one and answer a very simple question that quite remarkably strikes right at the heart of the matter.
Does it spark joy?
It’s shocking how much of the stuff we own doesn’t spark joy. And it may seem kind of ridiculous to connect peace of mind and contentment in our lives with being surrounded by stuff that makes us happy…but I don’t think it is.
Whether we’re cognizant of it or not, hanging on to stuff that we don’t love means that we’re haunted by our former poor decisions, sentimental objects that no longer have a place in our lives, or the expectations and desires that other people may place on us through gifts that we don’t actually like.
The Konmari method frees us by giving us permission to discard something that doesn’t spark joy, despite all the practicalities or obligations that may hold us back. It allows us to let go, and in the process of doing so, to learn from our past decisions, grow, and move on.
In the process of confronting my own past purchasing decisions, I realized that I needed to stop buying things just because they were cheap or practical.
Whatever I might gain from convenience or price, it’s often worth it to wait to decide if I’m making the right choice or spend more money for something that I truly love…if only so I don’t end up in this exact same situation a year from now, wondering how on earth I managed to buy so many things that I hate.
The Konmari method also gave me permission to say goodbye to those mistakes, something I feel awfully guilty about as a person invested in sustainable living. I shouldn’t hoard stuff I don’t even like to make myself feel better about wasting less; instead, I should learn from my past decisions so I can make better sustainable decisions in the future.
Have you read the book or watched the show? Let me know your thoughts!