A De-Cluttered Life

It all started when the same book was brought to my attention twice in one week. This book is called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and is written by a feisty, passionate Japanese woman. In my quest to understand what sustainable living looks like I was surprised to find that the decluttering Kondō described is the type of guidance I've been looking for. Ultimately, I’d recommend reading this book for yourself but for those who need to be sold more, I’ll summarise its gist.

 
 

Marie Kondō (the book’s author) claims to offer an alternative to perpetually tidying day after day and week after week. She says that if you de-clutter your home, purging your belongings of all that doesn’t spark joy in you and then sorting your belongings into designated places in your home, you’ll never have to tidy again. You’ll simply be putting things away after they’ve been used. Quite wisely she points out that furniture stores promote innovative storage solutions so that we can organise what we own (ahem, Ikea), but Kondō says that unless we sort through what we own we will only carry on needing to invest in storage solutions throughout life. Her advice for throwing things away (or recycling or donating) spans from clothes to books to journals to shoes to coats to unwanted gifts to lecture notes to bank statements (and more). In short, she's quite relentless.

Recently I came back from a stretch of travelling (of nearly two years) and after living according to luggage allowances I've learnt to live off a far more reduced pile than I'm used to when I’m in England. Needless to say, I got home late last year and threw away about a third of my stuff because I saw that most things weren’t integral to how I live. Stuff (I'm talking belongings; possessions; hoardings) is often on my mind when I come home. It's probably a consequence of visiting the houses of the poor and seeing the stark difference between the quantity of their belongings and mine. In purging my room I was able to remind myself precisely what I stuff have. This is what I’d recommend.

 
 

I enjoyed this book because it taught me to notice and value what I own. Kondō gave me practical advise for sorting my belongings, in turn noticing what I have (which enables me avoid re-buying items/alternatives I already own), but she too showed me how to live in a way that preserves and cares for these items. Often I wonder whether our consumer society has created a people that are naturally inconsiderate to the value of their stuff. Particularly if it will cost us little to replace, we’ll not take very good care of what we own or what we waste (which takes a huge toll on our planet). I wonder whether for most of us it doesn’t cross our minds to think beyond price to the greater affect on the world we live in. In living like Kondō describes; in de-cluttering and in-turn owning less but caring more for what we own, I think our lives can conserve and thus change our world.