How Marie Kondo Is Flooding Thrift Stores With Things No One Wants...


If you haven’t heard of the Marie Kondo effect, buckle up. This tidying trend was started by a woman named (you guessed it) Marie Kondo, who has created a phenomenon based on her version of minimalism. Each episode of her viral Netflix show follows someone who is in need of professional organization. The punchline? “If it doesn’t spark joy, throw it out.”

While minimalism is often associated with sustainability, aggressively chucking anything that doesn’t arbitrarily spark joy is a little troublesome. When someone is first transitioning to a more #susty life, we always tell them to use what they have first, before buying anything else. For example, throwing away all of your reusable plastic cups to replace them with stainless steel inherently creates more waste. Even if your tupperware or coffee cups are plastic, you can reuse them and prevent more items from ending up in the landfill.

But now Marie Kondo comes along and gives us this threshold that determines whether or not something is worthy of holding onto: joy. Good in theory, challenging in practice. Joy is arbitrary; my ugly purple coffee cup doesn’t really spark joy, but it’s better than getting a paper one when I’m at Philz. Make sense?

And because the “Marie Kondo Method” has gone viral, thrift stores and donation centers have been flooded with things that don’t “spark joy”. For example, Buffalo Exchange, a national thrift store, gets their high quality items through consignment. I am a frequent Buffalo seller and during my last three trips, I sold a total of 4 items. The woman ringing up my clothes told me that they had seen a tremendous increase in people bringing next to everything in their closets to sell, inspired by Marie Kondo herself. Their consignment rate is being driven down as people aim to get rid of their garbage bags full of “joyless” clothing.

And it’s even worse at thrift stores. January and February have notoriously low donation rates at stores such as Goodwill and Thrift Town. But this winter, both retailers saw an increase in the number of post-holiday donations. The majority of it won’t sell either; if it doesn’t spark joy in your closet, chances are other people don’t want it either. That means the bins, bags, and buckets of clothes will either be shipped to secondhand markets overseas or put in the landfill.

So what are some ways to achieve minimalism without throwing out everything you own? Go through and DIY things you are undecided about. Clothes, home goods, and shoes can all be given a second life. If there are things you truly need to get rid of, try shelters and thrift stores. Shelters are often in need of clothing and the “resale” ability is not important. And of course, head to your local Goodwill with whatever is left.

Are you trying to eliminate waste? Have thoughts on Marie Kondo? Let us know @thegreenverse and #thegreenverse!

Mason Twins