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The one thing we need to remember while watching Netflix's Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

With all the hype surrounding Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, there’s the belief that good things come to those who rid their lives of all the unnecessary junk they don’t need.

According to the cleaning guru, what remains is joy.

But there’s just one problem. In between the original cluttered houses and pristine, minimalist, joy-infused finished product are bags and bags of rubbish filled with stuff.

As it turns out, sparking joy results in a lot of waste.

tidying-up-marie-kondo-waste
Image: Netflix.

We've reached an age where we've been boxed in by our own privilege to mass-produced, cheaply made - and bought - goods that we don't actually need.

We accumulate stuff and then complain about having too much stuff.

Therefore we de-clutter, we 'donate' and chuck our once-possessions into garbage bags where they become somebody else's problems.

But when looking at our environmental impact, should we all hold ourselves more accountable?

To not just throw away our unwanted items as a quick and easy fix but change our behaviour to 'buy less', hand-me-down, re-use, recycle and donate instead of simply throwing things away.

According to ABC's War on Waste, Australians throw away 6000kgs of clothing every 10 minutes which adds up to over half a million tonnes of clothing.

Even if you're making regular trips to the op-shop, the majority of poorly-made, fast-fashion clothing pieces aren't re-bought, which means they'll either be sold by the kilo to African countries or sold as industrial rags to third parties. Those that don't make the cut get sent to landfill.

Watch the official trailer for Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and see what the hype is all about.

Video by Netflix

Furthermore, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald in 2017, charities like the Salvation Army spend anywhere between $5 million to $6 million on waste collection and disposal annually, says Salvos Stores CEO Neville Barrett. And even though that figure includes donated furniture items and miscellaneous pieces, it's money that could be spent on the charity's other endeavours.

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Similarly, anything made from plastic - kitchen utensils, beauty product packaging, polyester-based clothing - can take anywhere from 450 to 1000 years to break down, a process which results in microplastic pollution and ends up in the food we eat, and in our wildlife, waterways and eco systems.

So, what can you do instead? There is one life-changing takeaway from Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and her original book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and that's to simply buy less.

Really think about your clothing choices when you hit 'checkout', give more gravitas about why you're shopping and the things you bring into your home, and for goodness' sake take advantage of your local library (and let's be done with the whole 'throw away your books' controversy).

Essentially, ask yourself if it sparks joy at the beginning of the conversation, not three months later when you're bemusedly holding that dingy looking novelty avocado slicer, before realising that 'no, no, upon further reflection this does not in fact spark joy'.

If you're donating your possessions look at organisations which specialise in getting your donated goods to the people who specifically need them, like Fitted for Work who give women experiencing disadvantage professional clothing, or Street Library which means you can share your finished or unwanted books with your community.

There's also the rise of 'zero-waste' bloggers and Instagrammers (like @zerowastehome, @therogueginger and @_sarahwilson_), who advocate a more cyclical, re-use and re-purpose model of shedding your unwanted things, and while it's not feasible for most people to only produce a pickle-jar-sized collection of rubbish per month, every little bit helps.

So by all means read the book, watch the TV series and take all the folding and storage tips as you want, but maybe think twice about the actual meaning and intent behind the all too simply seductive phrase: spark joy.

Do you think we should be concerned about this? Tell us in a comment below.

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