How to ‘Marie Kondo’ your life, without all the mess!

When Tidying Up with Marie Kondo premiered on Netflix, the internet exploded. My social media has been filled with photos of neatly organised closets and colour coordinated bookshelves all complimented with the hashtag #KonMari.

According to Sue Ghebari, owner of 17th Ave Thrift Store, donations came flooding in after the show premiered. It’s good for the thrift business, but doesn’t that say something about our attitude towards materialism and consumerism. Why do we own so much stuff that we don’t need and can so easily toss aside?

When I asked Sue her opinion on why we, as a society, are so consumer driven, she said “People love the instant gratification of buying something, but then almost immediately that thrill is gone. As human beings, we just want to fit in. [People think] ‘Maybe if I get that pair of Lululemon tights, I’ll belong to that group of people’ ”  

Discard items in bags

In one episode, a couple had over 150 garbage bags full of stuff piled up outside of their garage. They have accumulated three generations worth of stuff. That is insane. We have grown accustomed to this habit of filling up our lives with objects thinking that it will make us better or happier. But at the end of the day, all we are left with is junk.

“It’s almost like we are trying to fill a void,” said Sue. “There is an old saying, ‘the one with the most toys when they die wins’, but truly you don’t win. You just leave whole mess behind for your family to take care of.”

Marie Kondo has inspired people to live minimally and to get rid of stuff that doesn’t spark joy, but what happens to those unwanted, joyless items? There is huge misconception about the whole process of Marie Kondo-ing your life. People assume or think that just because they have shoved all their unwanted items in a bag, it will magically “go away”. But as some of us know, there is no “away”.

As we start to “Marie Kondo” our lives, we should consider why we are doing it in the first place. The KonMari method is more than just organising and tidying up your home. It is more than just decluttering and simply throw everything in to the trash. This method does not mean that you are depriving yourself and you can no longer buy anything ever again.  It’s about being mindful about our consumer habits and, similar to living plastic-free or zero-waste, is about living with intention and not just blindly filling up your life with material objects. It is about realising each item that you own serves a purpose or adds value in your life. Applying the Marie Kondo method in your life means creating more space for the stuff that actually matters, like spending time with your family.

So if you choose to adopt the KonMari method, here are some suggestions to help you in your journey, but also reduce the amount of waste this process may make.

  1. Remember is that not all items belong in the trash. Sort out all your stuff in categories. a.) clothing b.) household items/old furniture c.) electronic waste and d.) miscellaneous which includes books, board games, figurines, etc.
  2. Once you have sorted everything, find places that accept those specific items. I have created a list below for your reference.
  3. Before donating or giving away items, make sure that everything is clean and still useable. We don’t want to donate clothes that are tattered or ripped and we shouldn’t donate electronics that are broken.
  4. If you have items that are broken or unusable, please note, most of these things should not go into our landfill.  If you have clothing that can’t be donated, use them as rags instead or you can DIY a produce bag from it. See the list below for better ways to dispose of broken items.

Once you are ready to KonMari your life, here are a few suggestions on where you can drop-off items that no longer serve you but may be of use to someone else! The goal here is to avoid the landfill!

Inside – 17th Ave Thrift Store

Be sure to check out the needs and wish-lists of local homeless shelters.
The Drop-In, The Alpha House, Calgary Inter-Faith Society, Inn From the Cold, Elizabeth Fry Society and others are always in need of in-kind donations that may include everything from electronics to clothes to furniture. (please check their websites for what they do/don’t accept)

Clothing/Fabric and other household items:

  • 17th Ave Thrift Store: They accept gently used clothing and a portion of their sales goes towards supporting animal shelters. They also send clothes that can’t be sold to an organization that recycles textile materials, and they turn it into carpets and rags. Their goal is to make minimal waste as possible.
  • General thrift stores like Value Village, Salvation Army and Goodwill accepts clothes, household items, gently used furniture, books, toys etc.
  • Plato’s Closet: This is a consignment store that buys back your clothes for a certain amount. They sort through your bag of clothes, and they pay for what they want to sell.
  • Join or host a clothing swap: We are host them regularly! Check out our Event Page for more details.  
  • For clothing and material that is not usable (undergarments, torn/ripped pieces, etc) the City of Calgary has Fabric Recycling. Scrap fabric can be used for furniture and insulation!
  • Scrap Sewing Fabric can be donated to our friends at Boomerang bags!
  • Old towels, blankets, bed sheets can be donated to Animal shelters. Along with any other lightly used toys, beds, and pet supplies!

Furniture/Household items:

  • IKEA: You can drop-off batteries and light bulbs at their store to be recycled properly. They also have a Sell-Back Program for Ikea items that you want to part with. For more info:
  • Lowe’s has recycling centers that offer a convenient and free way for customers to recycle rechargeable batteries, cell phones, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and plastic shopping bags.
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore:

Electronic Waste:

  • City of Calgary has a list of place you can go to for electronic recycling depots:
  • Apple Stores will take back and recycle your old and broken Apple products for free!

If you don’t want to just donate your items, try selling them (or posting for free) on Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, or VarageSale.

Good luck with your waste-less Kondo-ing!

~ Lea

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I'm a passionate environmentalist at heart. Striving to create a difference in my community and in my home to make the world just a little bit better.