Plastic-Free Spotlight: Helen Youn

Helen Youn is a professional organizer specializing in the KonMari Method™. Helen found this method as an overwhelmed new mom after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and decided to make a change. After experiencing life-changing results first-hand, Helen felt compelled to pursue extensive training with Marie Kondo and became one of the first Certified KonMari Consultant in the world and is now a KonMari Consultant speaker. Using the principles of the KonMari Method™, Helen guides and supports people through this life-changing journey to live more joyfully and mindfully while transforming their homes into a clutter free and easy to maintain space. Life truly begins after you have put your home in order. 

Konmari prioritizes refusing and reducing items. It’s more than just filling trash bags with unwanted items, it’s about letting go of material possessions and letting another person have second chance at it by means of donating said items or even repairing it. Applying the KonMari method in your lifestyle doesn’t mean that you need to deprive yourself of things you love. The true meaning behind Marie Kondo’s method is about reevaluating the items we own and appreciating the value it adds in our lives, and to be mindful consumers. 

IG: @sparkjoywithhelen

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a KonMari Consultant?

I wasn’t a naturally organised person and have always valued having things. After having my son, I started to feel overwhelmed by how much things we had. My husband and I came across The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and we decided to apply the method in our home. We were surprised at how effective this method worked in transforming our home and how much our lives begin to change. When I saw the opportunity to train with Marie Kondo, I jumped at the chance and the rest is history.

What are the common misconceptions about the KonMari Method?

The biggest misconception about the KonMari Method is that it’s just a way to fold your clothes differently or that it means to live a minimalist lifestyle. The method is about identifying and keeping only the items that bring you joy. There is no formula to calculate how many items you should have and everyone will have a different amount that feels right to them.

What are the challenges you face as a KonMari Consultant?

There are so many but getting people to follow the method completely is one of them. Often people will want to skip a subcategory, work out of order, or to work by room and not by category but it’s so important to follow this method completely. When in doubt, just trust Marie!

How do you deal with clients who are having a hard time letting go of items?

By talking about it, the answer to whether an item stays or go becomes clearer. Sometimes people just need permission to let go and sometimes they need permission to keep an item without feeling guilty.

After decluttering, what do you do with the stuff after? Do you advise them on where to donate or sell the items?

I usually ask my clients at the start of a tidying lesson if they have thought about what they want to do with the items that no longer serve them. Most of the time people will already have some ideas. If they don’t, I will make some suggestions as a lot of the times people hang onto items just because they don’t know how to discard it. If an item is still in usable condition, I suggest donating to an organisation that will accept the item. If the client wants to sell an item, we talk about where they can do this (ie Kijiji, Facebook marketplace, consignment shops, garage sales, etc), the potential time commitment, as well as headaches involved with selling. Sometimes selling an item will help a client let it go but other times it will hold the client back because it might take months or years to sell it. The best thing to do is set a deadline and if it’s not sold by that time, donate it.

How do you integrate zero waste practices with the KonMari Method?

When people are ready for the KonMari Method, they are ready to change their mindset, how they shop and the relationship they have with their things. Even though I don’t intentionally educate my clients on zero waste, I find it really does go hand in hand as the majority of my clients are environmentally conscious and wants to do what’s right. During the process, we learn to appreciate and take care of the items that spark joy.

How To Marie Kondo Your Life Without All The Mess!:

Can you share one KonMari hack that everyone should know?

Always choose joy. You can apply this method to everything in life, not just in your home. By always choosing joy, it will lead your life to more joy.

Here are some helpful blog posts/articles about the Marie Kondo method: 

Check out Helen’s guide on where to bring items that can still be reused or recycled:

The Marie Kondo Method’s Environmental Impact Can Be Improved By Decluttering In An Eco-Friendly Way.

Time For a Kondo clean-out? Here’s what clutter does to your brain and body.