Urgent advisory for Netflix-inspired declutterers

11 January 2019

With the nation in the grip of a Marie Kondo-inspired decluttering frenzy, Australians are being urged to find the joy in rehoming their discarded items instead of sending them to landfill as they work their way through the KonMari method featured on the hit new Netflix documentary, Tidying Up.

Sustainability Victoria Acting CEO, Stephanie Ziersch, said the rush of affection for the KonMari method is a positive thing but highlighted the risk of items being discarded instead of consciously re-homed.

“The sudden spike in tidying up at home, combined with Christmas excess, New Year’s resolutions for minimalism and the fact that many op shops are still closed for the holidays, risks creating the perfect storm for waste this month,” Ms Ziersch said.

“While we’re encouraged to hear households en masse are busy clearing out the clutter, the question remains where are we sending all those bags of joyless garments and items once we’re done with them? All that clutter doesn’t just disappear once you’ve given it a kiss and thanked it for its service.”

Ms Ziersch suggested households consider adding a seventh-step when applying Ms Kondo’s famous KonMari method to their tidying up.

“Our simple request for Kondo-inspired declutterers is that instead of saying ‘thank you, next’ they instead find the joy in re-homing the items or recycling them thoughtfully and through the correct channels.

“In fact, there’s a Japanese approach known as mottainai that I suspect Marie Kondo would happily support. Quite simply, it encourages reflection on waste and action when it comes to reducing, reusing, recycling and respecting.”

Marie Kondo’s famous six step KonMari method… and one suggested addition

Step 1. Commit yourself to tidying up

Step 2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle

Step 3. Finish discarding first

Step 4. Tidy by category, not by location

Step 5. Follow the right order (clothes, books, paper, miscellaneous items, sentimental items)

Step 6. Ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?”

(Proposed) Step 7. Embrace mottainai – reflect on waste and take action to reduce, reuse, recycle and respect.

“Australians should already be proud for being great recyclers, but we can all do even better, by using less, wasting less and recycling more,” Ms Ziersch said. “The state of the future is in our hands. It's therefore never been more important for us all to minimise the waste we produce.”

Ms Ziersch said Victorians also had plenty of reason to be encouraged.

“Victorians have a great record when it comes to recycling,” she said. “Since 2001, the amount of recyclable household material diverted from landfill has increased by 64 per cent. It is important we maintain this momentum and build on these strengths in 2019."

Seven simple tips for householders embarking on the KonMari journey

  1. Consider selling unloved items on sites like eBay, Gumtree or Facebook.
  2. Contact your local charity group to see if they are willing to pick up your unwanted furniture.
  3. Gift your once-loved items to a friend or family member.
  4. Take your old TVs and computers to drop off points where they are recycled as part of the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme.
  5. Drop your mobile phones and tablets off for recycling at MobileMuster collection points found at phone shops and post offices.
  6. Offer your good quality clothes to charities who will resell them for fundraising purposes, or potentially give them to disadvantaged people.
  7. Contact your local council to find out how your items can be recycled locally.

Finally, Ms Ziersch reminded Australians that the big tidy-up was just one step to creating a living environment filled with the things we love.

“While the concept of tidying your home, and letting go of objects that serve no purpose is important, waste avoidance is just as pressing,” Ms Ziersch said.

“For example, Australians are the world's second largest consumers of textiles, buying on average 27 kilograms of new clothing and other textiles each year of which around $500 million worth of clothing is sent to landfill.

“The final suggestion is to take Marie Kondo’s inspiration into your shopping and ask if the item sparks joy before making purchases,” Ms Ziersch said.

About Sustainability Victoria

Established under the Sustainability Victoria Act 2005, Sustainability Victoria is a statutory authority that facilitates and promotes environmental sustainability in the use of resources. Sustainability Victoria provides practical ideas and advice to act on climate change use resources wisely.

For more information or to interview Stephanie Ziersch please contact:

Peter Taylor, Sustainability Victoria
0499 055 055