I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and am now a Marie Kondo obsessive. Marie Kondo is a tidying expert from Japan who’s books have sold millions of copies and who now has her own show on Netflix.
Her approach to decluttering involves keeping only what sparks joy. There’s no need to buy fancy storage or indeed anything to put your belongings in as by the time you’ve finished, you’re not likely to have a lot left. And that’s the point. In the end you’re meant to be surrounded by only the items that make you happy.
Reading this book has come at a good time for me. I’ve recently read Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin which focuses on buying less and Marie Kondo’s approach focuses on getting rid of what you don’t want. I think they work together nicely in a two finger salute against capitalism.
So, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been decluttering our home. I love a good clear out so getting rid is stuff isn’t a challenge. The problem is where it goes once I’ve decided I don’t want it anymore.
In her book, Marie Kondo doesn’t particularly promote recycling what you don’t want or taking it to charity. She doesn’t really say anything about what to do with things once you get them out of your house.
I don’t like throwing things away. I’m happy to recycle and pass on to charity but something’s inevitably end up in the bin.
I didn’t want to just gather everything I didn’t want and dump it all in one charity shop. There’s been reports of charity shops being overwhelmed by donations and much of what’s been given might end up in landfill anyway.
I wanted to try to be more conscious about where my things went. It’s taking longer than one trip down to Oxfam but I feel better for taking my own sweet time.
What to do with unwanted food
There aren’t many options with food, other then the bin for out of date food, and food banks for food that’s in date and unopened.
Last year I (thought) I’d cleared out the food cupboards when I took a bag of baby jars down to the foodbank. But, hidden in our cave-like corner cupboard was everything from vitamins four years out of date (stay healthy!) to completely crystallised jars of honey.
So last week went for it and claimed the tiny step ladder to the cupboard where good food goes to die and started clearing out.
I unloaded a black bin bag full of out of date food into our wheelie bin.
There were bags of lentils that left the shop in 2014 and have lived in the back of our cupboard ever since, living in hope that one day they’d make it into a curry. It was all pretty shameful.
Cupboards done, I took a moment to bask in the horror of the point of food we’d wasted and moved on.
Clothes and toys
I found decluttering my clothes quite easy as many of the items I chose to donate were pretty obvious. No one who lives in Sheffield and rarely goes abroad needs four bikinis. I also got rid for 12 bras, including four that were two sizes two big (I blame post-baby boobies for these).
I took eight carrier bags of clothes and accessories to charity and have sorted through the kids toys.
I’ve kept four bags of toys hostage in the cupboard as I’m too scared to take them to charity in case Joni asks for them. So they’ll sit in the cupboard for a bit for now until I’m sure she’s not going to remember them.
I took some of them to her Grandma whose church is having a table top sale soon. And I took some plastic play food to Joni and Evan’s nursery.
The rest, I’m hoping to give to families for free and so far, it’s working.
The universal appeal of free stuff
I’ve discovered Freecycle this week. I’d heard if it before but I’d always thought it was a site for hippies wanting to swap seeds and things. Turns out it is exactly that and I’m actually considering putting an advert up to ask for some unwanted seeds.
I listed a juicer I bought seven years ago and have used about seven times and within seconds someone asked of they could have it. I also got rid of a load of old folders and an explicable amount of plastic wallets. Within 30 minutes of listing them, someone had come to pick them up.
People love free stuff. There’s all sorts on there, broken pianos, old washing machines for scrap, seed trays (yes please).
I made me feel quite positive that not all unwanted items end up in landfill or on a railway embankment.
Facebook Marketplace is another eco-gem for getting rid of stuff you no longer need.
I’d sold a few items on their last year and made about £60 in total but it was hard going. Selling stuff for a pound here and there was a bit tedious so today a listed a few things for free. The Facebook crowd went wild.
I got rid of two bags of Joni’s books and a bag of toys withing five minutes. It’s all things she doesn’t read or play with anymore so it’s good that it’s going to people who’ll appreciate it. I’m not sure Joni would agree though.
Paper shredding and recycling
I’ve been writing about confidential waste for a client at work and realised that ripping bank statements down the middle isn’t going to trick even the dumbest identity theif.
I mentioned to the client if they do very small scale domestic shredding and they do! Better yet, they only ask for a small donation to charity per bag of paper they shared and recycle. Double win.
I’d say I’m about halfway through the decluttering process. I’ve found some exciting ways to repurpose mushroom packaging into drawer dividers (no, really), but more on that next time.
So far I’m learning that patience is much better for the environment than hiring a skip and as much as I want the process to be done with, it’s got to be one step at a time.