There is always the garbage bag shot. In the Netjing series with the Japanese declutter expert, the best-selling author was cleaning up with Marie Kondo. There is always at least one long shot of garbage. Smooth plastic bags, bulging with garbage and stacked unsafe. The more bags, the better – one of the pairs featured, they knocked out 150 full bags.
Where the bags are nicely tied up and ready to disappear, so that the tigers become happier, healthier, and relieved of all the dream they've been turning around for years. It's screaming screaming: Success! You've been Kondo-d! Your life is becoming infinitely better!
And it is the picture that illustrates the problem we all have with waste – which Kondo does not help.
A few years ago, I followed the KonMari method, the step-by-step decluttering guide was posted in Condo's best-selling books. It's okay: review every thing you own, category by category, keep it close to decide if it "sparks joy," then throw it away if it doesn't, or save it nicely if it does.
The three days spent in a summer-filled New Year was an exquisite marathon cleaning. Clothes I didn't do love-loves, unused kitchen appliances, mis-fitted crockery, reams of old documentation and countless expired skin care products all went into heavy garbage bags. There were bags for charity shops, trash bags and boxes of books for the used bookstores. The more bags I filled, the more I patted my back. Then I cleared and sorted and folded what was left. I even mastered the dark art of folding socks and underwear.
It felt good. My apartment wasn't exactly a minimalist sky, but I got a kick out of my well-organized kitchen cabinets and my smaller pile of T-shirts stacked in downward color. My cutlery tray was newer and my crockery matched – the strange, unused orange cup and dish someone gave me was now sitting in a box outside a charity shop, waiting to spark pleasure in someone else.
That's it though – what's next? Where do all these bags go? The Konmari method emphasizes getting rid of things, but it doesn't just vanish. We get rid of the garbage bags, so forget them when we return to our newly created homes. Out of sight, out of mind.
Most of these up-store bags will end up in landfills, along with the direct trash bags. And it costs charities millions to send it to the dump. These days, landfills are filled around the world is crowded with things that did not kick joy.
The idea of "not like it, just the bin it" encourages the culture of disposability. As Eiko Maruko Sinewer, author of waste, Consuming Postwar Japan, once told me, the Konmari method is a short-term strategy. "If you go shopping and fetch a shirt and that shirt gives you pleasure, then you buy it. Then, two weeks later, it no longer brings joy, you can throw it away and there is no attention to [the fact that] Perhaps you should have thought about the life of life when you bought it. "
We throw out more than dawning T-shirts and old tax receipts. While the cotton shirt only costs you $ 10, there were countless resources that went into it: the materials, the water, the energy, the labor, the transport and the packaging are also wasted.
And we really can't afford to say "yes-nah". According to the World Bank, we currently produce more than 2 billion tonnes of garbage each year, with the figure going up to 3.4 billion over the next 30 years. Landfills around the world are crowded, with Australians throwing out 6,000kg of garments for landfill every 10 minutes.
Recycling is not a cure-all. Last year, China triggered a global recycling crisis when it closed the doors to the import of contaminated recycled material. Around the world, the municipalities stored recycling or sent it directly to landfill.
Dumping unwanted stuff at charity shops is also not the answer. Only a small percentage of clothing donated, for example, goes on sale. Unused garbage is sent to landfill, much of the rest is exported to poor countries, where it is sold relatively cheaply to the population. It sounds good theoretically, but in reality it can have a devastating impact on local markets, given the variable quality of used clothing. It can also limit the development of local industries, and can speed up the decline of traditional clothing. Why do something original when there are cheap jeans and designer knock-off tops readily available?
There is another Japanese tradition that Kondo – and the rest of us – could embrace. It's called mottainai. It has a long history, but basically it expresses remorse on the idea of waste and reflects an awareness of mutual dependence and uncertainty. Mottainai is about reuse, repurposing, repair and respect for objects. How powerful it would be to see Kondo chop old T-shirts for cleaning cloths to replace sponges or paper towels. Or maybe she had encouraged her desperate hoarders to repair their old shoes, bikes and kitchen appliances, rather than dare them?
There are many alternatives to the garbage site for those who really cannot stand to re-use or rework things that do not sin with joy. In Australia, except selling it on eBay or Gumtree, there are local Facebook groups or charities who want to bring unwanted furniture and clothing to those who need it. It can't deliver the immediate clean apartment feel, but the goods will end up going to a better home.
Most of all, I wish Marie Kondo just wanted to stop! Stop buying all this. The only solution to our waste crisis is to stop consumers from clogging our landfills, polluting our oceans and overpopulation of our homes. Because what really would spark joy would be a world that doesn't overfill garbage.
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