Does that spatula — you know, the one that keeps catching on your kitchen drawer — spark joy when you hold it?
Maybe it's time to let it go.
That's the advice of Marie Kondo, a decluttering expert, author and Netflix star, who recommends people only keep objects that "spark joy" and advises them to express gratitude to discarded articles before getting rid of them. In her Netflix series, she helps ordinary people shed items they have held onto for years, sometimes decades
Quad-Cities thrift and resale shops appear to be benefiting from this "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo" craze, store employees say.
Jamie Sons, manager of the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop in Bettendorf, says she can tell how long items have been in storage by the dates on the newspapers in which they are wrapped. Sometimes, she says, “They’re in newspapers that are 20 years old.”
While store employees can't directly tie donations to the "Marie Kondo effect," they report a recent uptick in donations.
On a morning when the temperature was minus 15, Sons says, three bags of items were donated by 10:15 a.m., and when donors bring in 15 bags of things, “that’s someone purging and absolutely doing what (Marie Kondo) says.”
“I almost think (Kondo) is giving permission to us to get rid of the things we don’t want,” Sons says.
Mindy Kayser, vice president of marketing at Goodwill of the Heartland, which has several stores in the Quad-Cities, agrees. January normally is a time when fewer donations come in, she says, but something has led to an increase in donations this year. She's glad for it.
Donated items “may spark joy for someone else,” Kayser says.
Lorrie Bowman at Life’s Little Treasures Resale Shop on Brady Street in Davenport says the store receives consistent donations. Still, the Kondo system — also known as the KonMari method — is a topic of discussion among a group of retailers who sell consignment articles and donations.
“People are always talking about the constant efforts to keep their closets cleaned out,” Bowman says.
She says recent donations have included baby clothes from the 1940s and 1950s.
“Why that person kept them all that time ... maybe they found a cause that’s worth it,” she says, referring to the store's mission to support Quad-City Right to Life.
Loxi Hopkins has lived in her Davenport house for 40 years. She is taking it one drawer at a time.
"You will be surprised, once you start going through things, how much stuff you will have that you don’t even like," she says. "I remember pulling one top out of my drawer that I looked at and decided I didn’t even like it, and that is why I never wore it. Not only do you not bring me joy, but yuck! I wouldn’t even wear you!
"It’s not fair for our kids to sort through this junk. If we haven’t used it in six months, it’s going," she says.
She also has begun to consider what books she never will read again. Kondo recommends keeping no more than 30 books.
“I think books are harder (to part with) than clothes,” Hopkins says.
“It’s so tough to downsize your life when everything you touch holds a memory,” says Teresa LaBella, Davenport, who is in the midst of decluttering.
“The tug of connection is strong," she says. "Deciding what goes along for the next chapter, what to hand off to someone else to build their memories on, or toss in the trash to be lost forever, can be poignantly painful.”
Author and publisher Paul Ferguson, Rock Island, says he already pares down periodically, but he has been inspired by Kondo's show to do more.
In the first episode, Kondo demonstrated a different way to fold T-shirts. “I immediately refolded all my T-shirts to see what would happen,” he says. “I went from being able to put 17 shirts in a drawer to 24 shirts in a drawer. Then in the process of doing that, I had to handle every T-shirt separately.”
As he did, he considered whether each one was a shirt he wears, that makes him happy, that’s necessary.
“We’re … kind of going room by room doing this process,” he says.
Ferguson says he thinkgs decluttering is more of a cultural issue than an emotional one. "It’s important to live as 'small' as possible," he says. “But it doesn’t address the essential problem, which is what we tend to accumulate as a culture."
"I wonder how many people, over the next six months, will fill (space) back up again?" he says. “It’s not about what we get rid of. It’s about how much we buy."