Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Why the Marie Kondo Method Doesn't Work

Like just about everyone else the past couple of years, I decided to give Marie Kondo's Tidying methods a try.  My conclusion is No.  Just No.  I admire her range of vision, and I kinda like her folding methods.  But I find much more that I just can't stand behind.

The worst bit is throwing stuff out willy-nilly.  It makes me crazy to think about it.

Marie Kondo's methods are Japan-based.  Recycling methods in Japan are absolutely incredible.  All trash has to be minutely sorted by the person throwing it out before it is sent to a variety of recycling centers.  (I have watched a fair amount of Japanese TV, so I've seen footage of what they do throughout the whole process; it's pretty amazing.)  We don't do that here in the US.  Instead, we just thoughtlessly make a big fat mess at landfill centers, and KonMari methods encourage us to make that big fat mess substantially worse.  The overall outcome negates any good that it might otherwise create on an individual basis--in essence this sorta makes her a potential cause of major US pollution; that's pretty alarming and surely not her intention.

The items that are thrown away would, in may cases, be of use to someone else who has a need.  There are so many people doing without who might need that item that KonMari is telling you to trash.  She says that it is enough that you send the item away with a sense of gratitude.  No, it isn't.   

This is particularly true in my case.  Folks give me stuff they don't want so I can sell it, and that's how I put food on my table.  Last year, someone I know was about to put out a big bag of "sewing room trash" that she just wanted to get rid of; instead, thank God, she thought of me.  Within two days, I had already earned more than $20 from her junk.  (What does $20 mean to you?  For me, that's the weekly food budget.)  Six months and more than $100 later, I am still earning money from that single bag of her garbage.  Heaven only knows what else she threw away that was picked up by the trash truck.

A couple of weeks ago, someone else showed up at my door with several huge bags of "junk" she didn't know what to do with.  As a result, I've got a whole bunch of beautiful nearly-new expensive bed pillows, I gave a perfect king-size mattress cover to a friend who needed but could not afford one, I will be making a donation to Goodwill, and I am still preparing listings items for eBay from her garbage bags--including a vintage silver-plated coffee service!  Trash isn't necessarily just trash.

The caveat here is that I know from experience what can sell and what won't, and I am willing to do the hard work that it takes to get the job done.  Sometimes I end up with massive messes to tackle (my living room is currently a disaster area), and it takes time.  My house will Never be KonMari perfect, and that's fine because I'm making my way in this world the best I can with honesty and gratitude.  If people want to be judgmental about tidiness, that's their problem.

Maybe it was being raised by Depression Era parents but I tend to look at the potential in something.  My parents meant it when they taught me the old saying,

Use It Up
Wear It Out
Make It Do
Do Without
It's a lesson I'm glad I learned.  And I know there's always more that I could do that I don't.  KonMari makes total hash of that.  If people don't learn how to make things work, if they just throw out what they don't like or is inconvenient, they miss some very important life lessons that could help them to become stronger and better people.

Life isn't perfect.  It isn't fair.  Being able to adapt makes a vast difference in our ability to survive difficulty.  There's incredible pressure right now on perfectionism.  It's not just KonMari, and we can't blame her for it; it's society as a whole with its insistence on selfies and social media and trying to show everyone else up with perfect hair, perfect muscles, perfect homes, perfect vacations.  I don't see much happiness in all that, just a lot of stress.  It's about being "right" instead of being at peace.  I'd much rather have the latter, thanks.

So, please, if you're gonna go all KonMari, do things a better way.

Have a yard sale, for Pete's sake--it will give you the chance to meet your neighbors, to earn a few dollars, and to see to it that those who need have a chance to afford to buy the nice things you don't want.

Make a donation to your local charity.  Just make sure things are clean and sorted properly.  Giving stuff away is no excuse for being slovenly, and it's unkind to make other people feel bad for accepting your junk.

Go to the recycling center!  You'd be amazed what you can recycle; just call and ask--they can send you a list or maybe they have a website you can check.  I take Daisy's cat food cans (properly washed out, of course), and I figure that we get a couple of months of "free" cat food a year by the money I get by doing that.  If you have old extension cords, old computer cords, any old electrical cords, the recycling center will be thrilled to put cash in your hand for this "dirty copper."  Those are just a couple of examples.  Why would you throw away money?

Also, I wish that people would learn to use FreeCycle.  It's a great place to give away what you don't want or to get what you really need absolutely gratis!  (Be aware that FreeCycle expects that you are not a dealer or seller, so please respect their reasonable rules.)

Don't just KonMari.  

Think about what good you can do instead. 

And, most of all, don't be afraid to be human and, therefore, just short of perfection (even if it means your living room is messy sometimes, like mine).

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