Stuff doesn’t overpower Judy Kim anymore.
She’s stopped hoarding her daughter’s schoolbooks and artwork, and she’s used to people laughing about how she “Marie Kondo-ed” her house.
“I’ve been the best I’ve been in my whole entire life,” she says.
Ms Kim’s decluttering was inspired by Kondo’s philosophy — which became a craze when the guru’s television series Tidying Up hit Netflix about a year ago.
But has the philosophy stuck with us? In 2020, are we still asking “does this spark joy?”
The Kondo effect
Ms Kim was motivated to clean up by the memory of the weeks of throwing out “everything of everything” following the death of her grandparents.
“I thought, ‘I don’t want to be giving this to my child, this kind of burden when I’m dead,'” she says.
Kondo’s words made her realise “it’s OK to let it go”.
“I’ve got a few memories but it’s not overpowering me like it used to,” the Adelaide mum says.
Ms Kim wasn’t the only one cleaning up.
Kondo’s TV series, which followed a best-selling book, was released on January 1, 2019 — just in time for the New Year.
Phil Coyte, Vinnies NSW director of retail and logistics, says that time of the year is traditionally the “biggest time for both quantity of donations and also dumping”.
At the height of the craze, Australians were parting with truckloads of unwanted items.
Some charities and thrift shops even asked people to stop leaving donations while they sorted through the backlog.
Mr Coyte says the Kondo effect is still present, but has “plateaued down a bit towards a bit more of a manageable level”.
Google searches for “Marie Kondo” have also slipped away from the peak in mid-January last year.
And while Kondo’s Facebook page still boasts almost 840,000 likes, a far smaller number of people are engaging with the page. One recent post, for example, attracted 200 comments — compared to 5,000 on a post a year ago.
Consumer behaviour expert Eloise Zoppos believes the Kondo trend “passed relatively quickly” but says for many people, the principles of the show have stuck.
“It wasn’t surprising that Australians jumped on the trend and really wanted to apply those principles to their everyday life,” says Dr Zoppos, from the Australian Consumer and Retail Services (ACRS) research unit at Monash University.
“Sustainability and the importance placed on it by consumers will only continue to grow.”
A new career path
The decluttering craze has plateaued, but it hasn’t disappeared.
For people like Miri Collis, it’s even become a job.
Ms Collis, who helps people in eastern Sydney declutter and style their homes, has seen everything from hoarding shopping receipts to saving hundreds of children’s books and owning wardrobes of never worn designer dresses.
“There’s a lot of emotion, therapy, talking. Sometimes I’m very gentle, sometimes I’m not,” Ms Collis says.
“Sometimes we have a truck that comes and takes away all the rubbish. A truck full of stuff that people have been collecting and unable to let go of.
“I think a lot of it is sentimental, or there is a fear that if you let go that something might happen, so there is a bit of insecurity.”
Beyond Kondo: The future of buying
Ms Collis believes the trend of “living more simply” will continue to grow.
“It’s a much bigger picture,” she says.
“It’s not just about let me organise your house, it’s about consuming. The less you consume the better it is for the environment.”
Ms Kim says she now thinks “very long and hard” about buying things, and has started to prioritise experiences over physical possessions.
“It’s actually a gift to my daughter, teaching her to simplify your life instead of the ‘greed is good’, the excess of the 80s of when I was growing up,” she says.
Dr Zoppos predicts that going forward, consumers will be “really mindful” about a brand’s values, and look for ethical, sustainable items.
And while she believes that in years to come people might question why they folded their clothes by the KonMari method, Dr Zoppos says some of the lessons will stay with people.
She says they’ll always remember that “tidying, organising and only buying and keeping items that spark joy can lead to a more positive and happy lifestyle overall”.
“They may just try to do it in new and different ways,” she says.
Topics: house-and-home, lifestyle-and-leisure, human-interest, people, sustainable-living, lifestyle, environmental-impact, environment, charities, charities-and-community-organisations, community-and-society, australia, japan
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