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While decluttering is typically thought of as an otherwise dull task, Marie Kondo has turned it into more than just a mundane household chore. Her “KonMari” method is taking the world by storm, as she teaches the masses how to live a minimalist lifestyle. The concept is simple really— if you look at an item and it does not spark joy, then it is time to part ways. Watching this phenomenon, environmentalists began to wonder if Marie Kondo could kickstart greater environmental change. If Marie Kondo helps hoarders to part with unnecessary items, then maybe we can use these tools to entice the billions of people on the planet to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Sustainability Defined

So, what is sustainability, and why is it more than just a buzz word? Sustainability is anything that can continue at a specific rate or level. For instance, let’s pretend that you decide you are done with an old shirt that does not bring you joy. If you wanted to live sustainably, then you would pass the unwanted item on to someone else that can make use it. Essentially, the goal is to get creative and keep the item out of the landfill.

Appreciate the Gifts of the Earth

By far, the most intriguing aspect of the “KonMari” method is how Marie begins the process of decluttering her client’s home. She starts by encouraging them to kneel with her as they both give thanks to their house for offering a safe place to grow and live. This process is intriguing, as it allows the family to understand that there is a higher purpose to the madness of ridding one’s life of unnecessary items. By establishing a symbiotic relationship with your home, you will be more likely to take care of your house just as much as it takes care of you.

Now, let’s discuss what would happen if we held the same mentality towards our planet. For instance, if you woke up every morning and gave thanks to the Earth for providing a safe and nurturing place to live, learn, and laugh, chances are it wouldn’t be as easy for you to continue acting as if you are unaware of the harm that you are causing the environment. By remembering to thank the planet for the many gifts it gives, you would eventually feel remorse for discarding tons of waste— trash that is destroying the very object that you are trying to praise. This remorse would make way for a more sustainable lifestyle that consisted of less single-use of plastic products.

Remember, Decreased Clutter Leads to Increased Joy

Now think about your closet right now and take a mental inventory of the items that you wear in comparison to the remainder taking up space. Like many of us, we accumulate so many objects over time, yet when we look back at it, we wonder why we kept it over the years. This is the situation that our planet is in now— you may wonder why so many items are in landfills, yet the answer is simple. Our world is just like your cluttered closet, full of things we don’t need, yet are compelled to accumulate. As litter continues to pollute our planet, the clutter will create a tremendous problem that we won’t be able to solve.

Fortunately, the answer to solving clutter in your closet is just as simple as the solution to solving our waste dilemma. Ask yourself before you purchase something, “do I really need it?” For instance, do you need to use that plastic bag to carry your groceries or could you bring your own? The key is to think twice before you make a purchase and ask yourself, “does this bring me joy?” It’s shocking what consciously asking that question will do to your budget and the clutter in your life. Start your quest for sustainability with small changes— bring your reusable bamboo utensils, or your reusable straw for lunch. Don’t worry, always remember Anne-Marie Boneau’s words for inspiration, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

Finding Sustainable Joy

When you are going through your closet and decluttering, do you find items of clothing that bring you joy? Now ask yourself, why do these items bring you joy? Is it the object itself, or is it the memories woven into the fabric of your favorite sweater that makes you happy? For most, the memories are what sparks joy, and this concept can be applied to our planet. It’s important to delight in the natural wonders that surround us before we clutter our world with litter and debris to a degree in which we can’t turn back. Where single-use products are king, it is time that we remember to appreciate the natural wonders of our society before they are gone.