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We’ve all seen the Netflix special, we’ve all freaked out about having to throw our books away, we all know what sparks joy and what doesn’t—the Konmari method is a big hit among people looking to declutter their homes right now.

And that’s a good thing! Everyone’s lives could use a little simplification every now and again, even if you’re a big-time collector of certain things, and there’s a lot of mental and financial benefits to decluttering you might experience along the way.

 

The biggest problem here, though, is that a lot of people tend to take the advice a little too…seriously. In a lot of translations or interpretations of Konmari, people tend to use “trash” too liberally when they might mean to say “donate”. This leads to people throwing a lot of things out which can just create waste and add to the growing trash problem, or donating things that even the thrift stores can’t use, which forces them to throw it out.

So what’s a budding home declutter-er to do? The trick is to keep a balance and know what’s worth keeping and what can simply be repurposed or put somewhere else. Firstly, you should figure out what exactly you’re trying to declutter, and why.

 

A few common candidates for the declutter pile are clothes you don’t wear anymore, house tchotchkes or souvenirs from trips, and books you’ve never read. Before you go on a rampage and clean off all your shelves, ask yourself: is this something I can easily get rid of, or am I just dooming it to a landfill? In a lot of cases these items can be relocated without a big problem. Things you couldn’t replace if you regret getting rid of them like personal photos or family heirlooms can be kept somewhere else in the house out of the way until you can figure out a better home for them, and are better off not being thrown in the trash. After you’ve started to discover everything you want to declutter, really put some thought into what absolutely needs to go and what could be rehomed elsewhere to save you some hassle.

 

From there, you should start actually finding homes for everything. Will hanging up some wall shelves give you a better home for some of those family photos you were unsure about? Can you get more bookshelves to make your book collection seem less imposing and help you actually get around to reading a few of them? While it may seem a little counterintuitive to bring more stuff into your house to get decluttered, a little reorganization and re-thinking in where you keep things can go a long way towards creating a more open, clean feeling.

 

Of course, not everything is going to be able to be salvaged by simply putting it somewhere else, and there’s a lot of questions you’re going to have to ask yourself about the remaining pile. Obviously, there’s some things that can and should be thrown out like broken clay sculptures, old homework, and magazines that are too old to be read but too recent to be considered collectible, but the trick is to figure out just what to do with them.

Let’s say you have a pair of jeans with a hole in the knee. You could donate them, but if they’re in too bad a condition the thrift store may have a harder time selling them and then they’ll be the ones stuck throwing them out. Instead, why not ask some of your craftier friends to see if they could patch them up and wear them, or at least turn them into something useful?

 

Some things destined for the declutter pile could actually be turned into money instead. This isn’t a good idea for everything (as you don’t need to walk away from a garage sale with two tables full of shirts) but if you have something actually valuable that would be worth your time to get rid of (certain movies, old watches, maybe even some living room furniture if it’s recently made and in good shape) you might want to consider listing it on Craigslist. Just don’t let it linger too long without being sold, or you’ll be right back where you started.

 

Lastly, instead of throwing it into the trash, a lot of home clutter can be recycled. A lot of local recycling centers will accept plastic, so a lot of toys or knick knacks that aren’t worth selling or donating can actually be recycled into usable plastic for things like jugs and bottles down the line.

Really, the trick is just to ask yourself if it can be better served elsewhere. When decluttering, it can be tempting to take the ‘nuclear option’ and just throw out everything and start over, but not only is this much worse for the environment, you could be depriving yourself of a chance to make a little money back or help someone that might need your stuff more than you do.

And that sparks a little joy on its own, doesn’t it?

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