Does it spark joy?

Bay Village Observer by Jennifer Hartzell

If you know what the title of this column is referring to, you are one of the millions of people who have tuned in to Netflix’s new show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Marie Kondo is a tidying expert and the author of the best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Her new Netflix show has propelled her into stardom.

It has been reported in major news outlets that since the release of her show, thrift stores nationwide have seen an increase in donations. Isn’t that amazing? This show (which is great, you should watch it) has created such a flurry of people cleaning out their homes that charities such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army are benefiting!

I am also encouraged that the increase in donations means that people who are “tidying up” their homes are seeking ways to donate the stuff they want to get rid of instead of trashing it. Yay! If you haven’t seen her program or are not familiar with her method, she advises that when deciding whether to discard an item from your home, you should pick it up and look at it and if the item does not “spark joy” in your heart, it should not stay in your home. If the item does not spark joy, you should thank it for its service then let it go.

So, if you are one of the millions of people out there looking to tidy up and use Marie Kondo’s fabulous method to do so, please seek environmentally friendly ways to dispose of your unwanted items and junk. Not only can you donate to Goodwill and thrift stores, you can put clothing that is too old to be reused into your Simple Recycling bags and put it curbside. You can donate small appliances to Goodwill and also put those into your Simple Recycling bags.

If you have a broken computer or other office equipment, check with your city when you can drop off those items to the service department for responsible disposal and recycling. If you have old TVs, you can bring these to a Best Buy store (they charge a $25 fee per TV) or E-Waste LLC located in Hudson. Books that are in good condition can be donated to local libraries, schools and community centers. Unwanted text books and other books can be recycled at Caraustar Recycling in Cleveland and other locations. Please check and enter in the item you are looking to donate into their search tool and responsible recycling and disposal options will pop up. 

I would like to take Marie Kondo’s method a step farther now. When you are considering purchasing new items for your home, including clothing, really take a minute to look at the item and ask yourself if it not only “sparks joy” but if it will provide the service you are looking to get from it for a long time. By considering each and every purchase and taking time to make sure you are buying quality products that will last a long time, you will in turn help the earth.

I have written about the environmental problem of “fast fashion” before. The popularity of low-cost, low-quality clothing has exacerbated the problem as humans do not have a great way of dealing with so much unwanted clothing. This can also be said for so many other items that are cheaply made and easily broken or discarded.

Think about the items purchased at dollar stores. They are all low quality, so when they break or are no longer usable, people have no problem just trashing them because they were so cheap to begin with. This type of mentality and way of shopping is creating a ton of waste that ends up at the landfill.

When you are shopping, I urge you to mindfully consider your purchase and if it will be a good investment for your money and for the earth. Even if it’s a $1.50 shirt from Old Navy, please consider its long-term value and impact on the earth.  Remember, bringing more items into your home means that one day you will be looking at it again, holding it, and asking if it “sparks joy.” It’s better to take that step before you even buy it.

If each of us took just a little time to be mindful of our purchases, there would inevitably be a lot less waste in the world.