Marie Kondo decluttering craze yet to hit region’s charity organizations

By Tyler Marr
January 22, 2019 - 5:00pm Updated: January 22, 2019 - 10:54pm

Encouraging tidying by category, not location, is the method behind Marie Kondo’s decluttering craze washing across the globe. 

Kondo’s KonMari Method for cleaning house influenced people overseas after her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, was published in 2011 and sold millions of copies. It was republished in North America in 2014.

The philosophical method of eliminating items from your life that no longer spark joy has ignited a fire of frenzied cleaners across North America and Europe, thanks to Kondo’s Netflix original series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

In the United Kingdom, the BBC reported charity shops are slowly feeling the effect of the Japanese tidying guru’s series. Store owners there are witnessing an uptick in drop-offs, with many donors citing the show as their inspiration to discard items.

The Salvation Army in Prince Albert, however, is not in the same boat. Captain Stephan Van Schaick said the recent -40 Celsius temperatures may have deterred people from getting out and donating.

Nonetheless, Schaick welcomed the program and believed the show could pay positive dividends in the spring.

“It will be a reminder and it might pick up at that point. I think it is all a great idea,” he said. “It will pair nicely with spring cleaning and help people pare down what they already have.”

For the Mennonite Clothing Closet in North Battleford, the flow of donations was much the same. Manager Sharon Janzen said while they did have to restrict donations last week to two bags each, she chalked this up to staffing shortages.

She said the store is always quite full and has been doing well as of late, so a rash of donations could see some items sent straight to Saskatoon.

Janzen did not fear people turning away from browsing their aisles and rummaging through items as there is a thrill of the find and joy that can come from finding something unique.

“They have a fascination with what is out there,” she said. 

Janzen also participates in her own de facto KonMari Method of sorts, speaking often to regular customers to deter them from becoming shopaholics and collecting too much stuff.

“[I tell them] you have to get rid of stuff unless you are finding some use for it,” she added. “[Some items] can be useful for someone but one person doesn’t have to have too much.”

Other observers note downsizing is only half the battle — the real issue is resisting the powerful cultural and advertising forces that drive consumption.

For those unwilling to also address their own excessive shopping habits, austere living will simply be temporary, according to marketing professor Monica LaBarge.

"If you're not treating the underlying issue then it's unlikely that once you get rid of all that stuff that you're just not going to acquire more stuff," LaBarge said, who researches consumer behaviour at Queen's University.

-- With files from the Canadian Press

On Twitter: @JournoMarr

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