think beyond tidying up

People always ask me what I think about Marie Kondo and her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” If you’re not familiar with her book, TV show, or many, many appearances online and elsewhere, she proposes decluttering by letting go of items that do not “spark joy.” And she’s sweet and lovely, and her voice is soooo relaxing and compelling!

In theory, I love this. In my personal reality, however, I have a lot of things. Some spark joy, some don’t. (My old smelly loveseat, for example, but the dog has to sleep somewhere.) Let’s not forget there are 4 humans (plus the dog, and the business I run) in just 1,200 square feet, so our sweet little house houses a lot of things and it feels fairly cluttered. But, because of our compact home, we don’t buy things we don’t need, we don’t have EXTRA stuff, because it just won’t fit in the house. If it’s here, we love it or we need it. I’m calling it cluttered minimalism.

That said, from a broader perspective, I believe that Ms Kondo’s philosophy of decluttering and letting go is DESPERATELY needed now in America’s ultra-consumerist society. Americans shop for fun, as though the mere act of buying is entertainment, but the things are junk, things we don’t need, things that we already have. It’s all EXTRA. The compulsion comes from our culture and our media — if it’s on Sale, if it’s “Buy One Get One” or “Spend More Save More,” or some celebrity endorsed it, or it’s supposed to make our lives easier. Next thing you know, we think we need a bigger house for all that stuff, then we need more stuff to fill the big house. Thanks to technology, the acquisition of STUFF AND THINGS happens with a single tap on our phones.

How many of us don’t even realize how much we shop online, until we get home to a pile of boxes? We’ll even SUBSCRIBE to get boxes of things completely unbidden, these “kits” of STUFF that automatically show up at our homes every month. I will be 100% honest right now — when I see a shelf full of still-sealed Kiwi Crate boxes in someone’s house, I know it’s not an issue of organization. I think this is a new level of shopping-addiction, a social disease that is yet-to-be-named.

Tidying up is just the first step. Breaking our consumerist habits is the next step. Socially responsible shopping — now that’s a real solution.

I find this Instagram feed to be very inspiring. I don’t know anything about what they’re selling, though.

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