Is The KonMari Method Sustainable?

The KonMari method is one of the most popular decluttering methods around the world, especially since getting its own Netflix show, but one question that always pops up – is it sustainable? And by this I mean, is it eco friendly.

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KonMari can be sustainable, if you’re conscious about your waste and where it ends up. If you simply get a skip or dumpster for your clutter and don’t think about that it goes to landfill, then it’s definitely not an eco friendly option.

I’m a huge fan of the KonMari method after finding it 5 years ago but, as you’ll know from this site, being sustainable and low waste is also hugely important to me. I’ve spent a lot of time going over the method to be better for my values.

So, how sustainable the KonMari Method is, all depends on each person doing it and how they tackle their own personal situation. I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this that you’re interested in being sustainable as you go through the decluttering process so I’m now going to go over a few points to help me explain and also give some ideas on how to make it much more eco friendly.  

What is the KonMari Method?

The KonMari Method is a tidying and decluttering method to help you establish what things you own that really “spark joy” in your life, created by amazing author and expert tidier Marie Kondo.

In the method you go through different categories of your personal belongings, from clothing to miscellaneous, keeping the items that spark joy and make you happy, and then organising them in your home in a way that also sparks joy and utilises the space.

You may be confused by the term “spark joy” but it simply means that when you hold something you own, you feel how happy it makes you – try finding something you own that makes you incredibly happy, this is the sort of feeling you’re looking for.  

Of course you’ll come across some items that don’t particularly “spark joy” such as important documents, but through the method you should be able to come up with a good storage plan and organisation habit for the future.

How can the method be considered not sustainable?

As I said at the beginning of the post, how sustainable the method is all down to everyone’s own situation. When you get to the stage where you need to get rid of all your stuff that doesn’t spark joy, you have to figure out what you’re going to do with it all. This is where the sustainable question comes into play.

As of course, the easiest and fastest option would be to just throw everything into the trash or a skip, without even sorting through it all for recycling or what could be donated. This means all your old stuff gets thrown into landfill, where it will be forever. But hey, out of sight, out of mind, right?  

So one aspect of the method to consider is getting rid of your stuff. Another is how you store items that you decide to keep.

Once you’re at the stage of keeping your belongings, many people head out to their nearest store to buy brand new storage boxes which are often made of plastic. This consumption might not be considered very sustainable, but sometimes you have to consider what is right for you.

So how can you make your journey more sustainable?

Well, first of all, once you’ve sorted through all your stuff you no longer want, you could sort it all out into different categories. These could be stuff to be recycled, stuff to donate, and stuff to sell. This way, you’re giving all your old stuff a second life, and you could help someone find something that sparks joy to them.

If you have unopened food, you could donate it to a food bank or offer it on your local Facebook group, and the same goes for unused beauty products or toiletries – just because you don’t need it anymore doesn’t mean someone else might not.    

Here are some ideas of ways you could get rid of your stuff more sustainably!

  • Clothes, household items, toys, and electrical items could all be sold on places such as eBay, Depop, or Facebook Marketplace, donated to your local charity or thrift store, or even a shelter – be it for humans or animals (but be sure to check with them before donating!)
  • Perishable items such as food or beauty products, like I said, could be donated to a food bank or shelter, or if you’re apart of your local area/community’s Facebook group, you could offer it to someone on there.
  • Make sure to recycle anything that would otherwise be considered trash. This could be anything from cardboard and paper, plastics, drink cartons, glass, and metal. Make sure you clean out anything food has been in, and that you check your local recycling regulations and centres – there are more things here then you would realise.  
  • If you live in the UK, I really recommend the website RecycleNow.com, as they have information on what recycling opportunities are available at your local centre.

Eco friendly storage ideas

A good idea when looking for sustainable storage is to look through the different types of containers that you already own. One of the key points in the method is storage, and so keeping old trays or boxes to store things in is a great way to reduce your waste.

  • Old cereal boxes – can be used for paper and files you need to keep
  • Old shoe boxes – can be used to store photos (if you don’t to get a photo album) or spices
  • Wooden crates or rattan boxes – great for storing wires, remotes, or separating food in the kitchen
  • Reused glass jars – great for refilling pantry items, storing pens, holding toothbrushes

You can also check out online places such as FreeCycle or Facebook Marketplace for other storage containers if you need anything specific or are looking for more storage ideas for the future.

Of course these can just be temporary storage solutions, so it’s a good idea to just take your time with organising before going ahead and buying more containers than you need.

How can I learn more about the KonMari method?

There are a few different ways that you can learn about the method and how to do it. Here’s a list about the different books that Marie Kondo has written, as well as about her Netflix shows.

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – This is Marie’s first book, which is about the story of the method and also stories from some of her clients that have tried out the method and how it worked for them.
  • Spark Joy – Marie’s second book, and my person favourite. This book is more of an actual guide, which includes illustrations, on how to conduct the method yourself. It has a step by step guide on the order of the categories and how to specifically tackle each one, as well as illustrations on how fold different items of clothing for storage and the best way to look after each piece.
  • The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up – This book is set out as a fictional story about Chiaki who hires Marie Kondo to help clean and organise her apartment after her neighbour complains about her sad looking balcony. This book is really cute as it’s set as a Japanese style comic (a manga), which I think could also be really good for getting younger people to become interested in the method themselves.
  • Joy at Work – Although I haven’t personally read this copy, this one is all about how to organise your work life, your emails, your personal work space, and finding more joy and confidence in your work. This could be really good for people who work from home, have busy office jobs, or just want to be more organised.
  • Tidying Up with Marie Kondo – This is Marie’s first Netflix show, which shows her visiting families to help them organise and tidy their homes, as well as having tips throughout the show help you organise too.
  • Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo – In this Netflix show, Marie helps different business owners to help them organise and tidy their work spaces. This one also helps to specify how exactly to find things that spark joy and how to look after them in the best way.

I think overall, I would say that the method is sustainable, providing you do it with a conscious mind about the planet too. Many people start the method because they own too much stuff and they don’t know how to tackle it, so by the end of the method, you realise that you should prioritise how much joy something brings you before buying it, and to really look after and cherish the things you decided to keep. I definitely recommend the method to anyone who is moving out of their parents home, moving house, or just feel like they own too much “stuff”.

I go through all of my things maybe once or twice a year now since I discovered the method back in 2017, because even after going through the process many times, I still tend to buy a lot, so I like to make sure I still value everything I own and they still “spark joy” for me.  

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