1Thing: Tidying Up with a Purpose

Recycle sustainably while "sparking your joy"

January 11, 2019

If you’re like the other thousands of people watching and talking about Marie Kondo's new and polarizing Netflix show, Tidying Up, then you may have gone through a complete overhaul of your belongings when we turned the page to the new year. It can feel good to start over and hit the reset button after the manual start of a new calendar.

But what you do after you clear out your things is very important to the environment and to your pocket book. If you’re thinking of just chucking those joyless items, think about all the joy those things could bring to people in need. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure - as cliché as it is.

Here are some things that are a bit controversial in terms of Kondo’s opinions on if they exist to “spark joy,” but nonetheless can be recycled:

Books - While not every book we read is going to give us a pleasant sense of happiness, it should be noted that art and literature perhaps have the duality of both giving us the pleasure and curse of knowledge. Whatever your thoughts on keeping or throwing out books, one thing is certain: Do not throw your books in the garbage. Unless, of course, they are damaged beyond repair or unreadable. Instead, there are many places that welcome used books with open arms; public libraries, schools, prisons, homeless shelters, even those "little free libraries" in many neighborhoods.

Clothes - This one should go without being said. However, try to get more creative about where your clothes end up. Yes, the Goodwill up the road will always accept your clothes with a smile, but think smaller. Local, family owned consignment shops tend to be the most direct. You can find other best practices for donating clothes here.

Small Appliances - It would be nice to have a bit more space in your pantry, huh? And sure you don’t need that rice cooker you once used religiously 3 years ago, but wouldn’t it be great to not have to buy it again and save a little moola in the meantime? However, new editions of items are advertised to us almost daily. The latest-and-greatest model of <insert item here> is always the best, the fastest, the most reliable. But here’s another cliché piece of advice. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it... or don’t buy the new version of it. If you do feel the need to part ways with that toaster oven or undersized microwave, look to your own neck of the woods. Perhaps an upcoming college freshman will be needing a few things for their dorm room. Remember that small appliances in perfect working condition can be passed down from generation to generation.

If you’ve been to the thrift store in the last month, you know that they are littered with “outdated” slow cookers, egg steamers, and hand mixers - all in working order. Keep that in mind when deciding to let go of those belongings. And remember, a good book can be read dozens of times and still be a good book.