It was fascinating watching on TV as a Japanese champion of zero-clutter went into an American home, made the couple cry before advising them to trash their belongings.
The TV series is named after her and is aptly titled, Tidying up with Marie Kondo and her name has now become a verb, as in, ‘Marie Kondo your home’.
The premise of the series is that the junk in the home is the visible aspect of a discontent in the relationship between the people living in that home.
The American couple speak to the camera alone, and we come to know they do not have time for each other and the children are more than the woman can handle. The magic of romance was slowly ebbing away. The woman gets emotional and thanks Marie for trying to help sort out their home (and their lives).
I was under the impression that America is a throwaway society and they ‘junk’ everything way before its expiry date, so seeing the couple’s shocking home was distressing.
According to the World Bank, Americans generate 2.5 kilograms of trash per person, daily. Dubai residents come a close second at between 1.9 to 2 kilograms daily, followed by China (1 kilogram), and India (0.9 kilograms).
But that’s garbage and the world is awash in trash and it is seeping into the seas. What we do not throw away but accumulate in our homes is equally bad for our health and sanity.
According to Kondo, clearing out the clutter requires that you first sort the stuff into categories such as clothes, books and paper, sentimental stuff and lastly, the miscellaneous things from your kitchen and garage.
“Put all your clothing into one pile,” she tells the couple, following which they are amazed that there are clothes that they did not know they had.
“Kiss and thank the clothes that you plan to discard, as they allowed you to wear them,” she advises the couple. “Keep things that spark joy in you.”
My wife usually complains she has nothing to wear even as her side of the wardrobe is bursting to the seams.
I, on the other hand, have shirts that go back years and I refuse to kiss them goodbye. Even when the collar is worn out, I go to the nearest tailor, usually some guy sitting in front of an ancient Singer sewing machine in a cramped room with low light, and ask him to turn the collar around.
According to Waterfootprint. org, it takes 2,700 litres of water to make just one T-shirt. I think the reason why we have a water shortage is because of the number of M&S tops my wife has.
As for books, we have many that still haven’t been cracked open. We have bank records that go back decades and property papers that look like fake treasure maps that con men have dipped in weak tea to make the treasure maps look authentic.
Our kitchen looks like as if a deranged chef went on a shopping spree and brought all the equipment, from deep fryers to slow cooker pots to various evil-looking instruments that chop, cut and slice and make decorations out of an apple peel.
There is no way we will be able to get rid of our sentimental stuff, like my wedding suit that I don’t remember fitting into.
Marie Kondo would cry because we are now adding even more sentimental stuff into our home.
But one thing good has come out of watching the TV series. We are turning all our old photographs into digital ones and dumping them somewhere in the cloud.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi