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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Jean

How to Face Your Wastefulness

When talking about the KonMari Method™ with people, it is common to hear the response, “Ugh, but when I think about tidying my house, I feel so….wasteful.” People will go on to say that just seeing the excess amount of stuff in their home makes them feel guilt and shame. Although they often appear defeated by just speaking their current truth, these folks have already taken an important step in the KonMari journey. They have acknowledged how their cluttered space makes them feel less than their very best.

Caring greatly for the environment is one of the biggest deterrents for letting go of items with any perceived value, even if it isn't being used. Most people feel wasteful and fearful when looking at their clutter because they cannot bear to send their stuff off to a landfill. It is natural to think that you might get use out of it…someday. But this is a major misconception.

By holding onto your stuff and storing it in your home, you are not saving it from the landfill. You are actually adding to it. How? When you keep unwanted items for 5, 10, 20+ years without using it, it eventually deteriorates, goes out of style and/or becomes inoperable. Essentially your waste is decomposing in your home and bringing you down.

Likewise, the majority of what you see as waste can be utilized by others through upcycling, recycling, repurposing and general reusing. If discarded properly, only a small percentage of items actually end up in the waste stream (landfill, incinerator). The issue is that you think you have to trash these undesirables when really you need to learn how your stuff can be recirculated.

For instance, that Kindle that you never use? It could be sold on eBay today to recoup some cash and be put to good use by someone who actually needs a Kindle. If you wait 15 years to finally part with said Kindle, it will most likely be an outdated technology and end up in e-cycling. You missed an opportunity to earn money, you lived with unnecessary guilt for many years and you kept your stuff from getting to the right place so it could be used.

So now that you are aware and acknowledge that you feel bad when you look at your waste, what do you do? You have a choice. You can choose to hold onto your excess stuff (what you call waste) and just live with it. You may think that by punishing yourself it will serve as a reminder not to buy or acquire excess items going forward. But this leaves you living in guilt. And how long are you willing to carry that negative energy with you? Or, you can choose to take action and face your waste. You do this by bringing your waste out into the light and relieving yourself of this burden.

How do you bring your waste into the light? You follow the KonMari Method™ and physically collect all of your belongings from a specific category (such as clothes) into one place on your bed, table or floor. This can be scary. You don’t want to look at it for fear of how much is really there. But it is also extremely liberating! When you look at your waste, you actually get a feeling of relief because you are taking action and facing your fear.

Make the pile and give thanks that you only have to tidy once.

Continue to follow the KonMari Method™ and decide what it is you actually want to keep from this pile of items. You will recall the most recent vision board/ideal island/dream journal and bring to mind your ideal life. Which items from this pile will best serve you on achieving your vision? Which items from this pile brings you joy when you pick it up?

After you have kept your joyful items, you are left with your waste, all of those items that were scattered around are now just sitting there staring at you. All of those impulse buys or items that you thought you needed to make you happy. You may feel an overwhelming sense of regret. You might get angry for realizing how much money you spent which leads to that wasted feeling again. Or sadness might arise. And then there is the guilt for using up the earth’s natural resources on things you no longer want.

Again, you have a choice. You can shove it in a box in the back of your closet, tuck it away in the garage to deal with another day, or stuff it in your attic. But what I hope you choose to do, is to face your wastefulness. Reflect on why these items no longer bring you joy. Was it on sale but not your style? Was it something that you were supposed to repair, give away or return to the store but never got around to doing? When you have a mound of unwanted stuff, you recognize your acquiring patterns. You learn how you accumulated in the past and become well informed to make better decisions in the future.

Now that you faced your waste and learned about your old habit pattern, you can shift your guilt to gratitude. You become thankful for this new insight and vow to be more intentional with your future purchases. It is also imperative that you take time to thank your unwanted belongings for the joy they once brought you. This simple act of showing gratitude before you discard your waste helps to further release any remaining feelings of guilt. Do not skip this important step in the KonMari Method™, even if it feels silly.

Lastly, you have a choice on how to let go of this waste. Rest assured, there are hundreds of ways for you to consciously and responsibility return your waste back into the supply stream. We are fortunate to have free access to various networks that actually want to put your unwanted items back to use. Paper can be recycled, appliances can be repaired, electronics can be reused, crafts can upcycled and clothes can be sent off for consignment or charity. Following through on these tasks is quite simple, it just takes your time and commitment.

If this all sounds easier said then done or you tried time and again but are simply stuck, then you can still take action and ask for help. As a KonMari Consultant, I will expedite your shift from thoughts of guilt to a mindset of generosity and gratitude. Together we will release the blame, learn to appreciate the abundance you have and express your willingness to share it with others. As a Master Recycler, I will show you how to properly and ethically find your waste a new home that does right by the earth. I will teach you about the circular economy and how you can add benefit through giving and receiving. As a result, your space and life will be transformed.

Always remember, you have a choice. I hope you choose to take action today, face your wastefulness and start experiencing a joyful space!

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