There’s always the garbage bag shot. In Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the Netflix series starring the Japanese decluttering expert turned bestselling author, there’s always at least one lingering shot of trash. Glossy plastic bags, bulging with rubbish and stacked precariously. The more bags, the better – one of the couples featured estimated they chucked out 150 full bags.
There the bags are, neatly tied up and ready to disappear, leaving the tidiers happier, healthier and relieved of all the crap they’ve been lugging around for years. It’s the shot that screams: Success! You’ve been Kondo-d! Your life is about to get infinitely better!
And it’s the shot that illustrates the problem we all have with wastefulness – which Kondo is not helping.
A few years ago I followed the KonMari method, the step-by-step decluttering guide laid out in Kondo’s bestselling books. It’s pretty straightforward: go through each and every thing you own, category by category, hold it close to decide whether it “sparks joy”, then discard it if it doesn’t, or store it neatly if it does.
Those three days, spent in a summery New Year haze, were an exquisite marathon purge. Clothes that I didn’t love-love, unused kitchen gadgets, mismatched crockery, reams of old documentation and countless expired skincare products all went into heavy duty garbage bags. There were bags for the charity shops, bags for the rubbish dump and boxes of books for the second-hand bookstores. The more bags I filled, the more I patted myself on the back. Then I tidied and sorted and folded whatever was left. I even mastered the dark art of folding socks and underwear.