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Does this Decluttering Method “Spark Joy”?

Letting go of material things is hard. If you’re anything like me, even getting rid of the things you don’t like—unsuitable gifts from relatives, kitschy splurges, etc.—can become an internal war. Especially so for those of us that indulge in “retail therapy”. I have a problem in which I donate one thing and multiple new purchases replace it. My kryptonite is discounted items—they spark me with the joy of saving money, despite having to spend money nonetheless to acquire an item.

I have been told “if you wouldn’t buy it at full price, don’t buy it”, but that belief has never seemed to work. As such, it is necessary for me to try decluttering my room (specifically my closet), every few months when I find the space overfilled. This is where the KonMari method comes in.

In my most recent attempt at decluttering, I was stumped. I turned to research to find a way to success, and stumbled across the KonMari method. This method was developed by Marie Kondo, and is built off of the basis of only keeping items that “spark joy”. First, you organize items into categories, such as clothing and books. Then you sort them into further subcategories, like pants and comics.

In each of these, you then go through the items and discard those that do not “spark joy”. Marie Kondo’s method focuses on how you feel about the item. If you feel happy or have some similar physical sensation when looking at it and/or engaging with it—the same way you might when deciding you want to purchase an item–then it “sparks joy”. One important part of this step is to go through each item individually.

It is time-consuming, but highly recommended so you can know whether the item is worth keeping. Once you have gone through every item and sorted them into those you wish to keep and discard, organize everything according to their categories. The KonMari method states to do this in one go, rather than bit by bit.

In trying out the KonMari method, I found myself adapting it to suit my thought process better. The “sparks joy” concept was useful, but there was an excess of items I owned that “sparked joy” in me. I began to add my own queries into the mix. If the item sparked joy, was it practical? How often did I use/wear it, if at all? Did it have any sentimental value worthy of keeping it? 

This helped with ensuring I would be ridding myself of more than just the bare minimum. By adding my own inquiries, I developed the KonMari method to suit my personality. For some, the basis of “sparking joy” would be enough to do an overhaul of their material goods; but if I go about decluttering according to my feelings, I will end up getting rid of very little.

However, none of this is to say the KonMari method isn’t useful. When it regards clothing, I have a style that has changed quite drastically in the past few years. All clothing has a practical use, and some clothing I wore a lot in the past but have not in a while; so the questions I used for decluttering other goods did not prove very applicable for downsizing my wardrobe.

Asking if the clothing “sparked joy” was crucial in this part of my decluttering. What I wear on a day to day basis is usually structured around how I feel wearing the clothing I put on and the overall mood the outfit presents. As such, there was a lot of clothing in my wardrobe that I have “outgrown” over time as my identity has shifted. By using the KonMari method, I was able to donate a lot of clothing that had been collecting dust in my closet and no longer suited me.

My opinion on the KonMari method is particularly nuanced. I recommend that if you are in need of decluttering your home—especially your wardrobe—you try it out and see if it works for you. With spring cleaning and garage sales around the corner, it may prove to be of great help. Ask yourself—does the KonMari method “spark joy” in you?

Amy Cooper

York U '25

I am a second year at York University and am in my first year in the Film Media Arts BFA! I have special interests in fashion, theatre, psychology, and nature :)