Minimalism trap: why Marie Kondo is NOT a do-gooder
23. November 2021
Marie Kondo - the tidying goddess. The woman who explains how minimalism works and the formula we use to declutter our closet. "Does it spark joy? No? Then you don't need it". At the latest, when she practiced the KonMari method in her own Netflix series called "Tidying up with Marie Kondo" in various households, everyone in this country was also in tidying fever.

People were cleaning out everything they could. Away with the pants, away with the shirts, away with the souvenir photos - everything in the garbage can. Mountains of garbage bags acknowledged the successful decluttering. At Netflix and at many of our homes.

What remained was a measly pile of "kondoish" rolled shirts for Monday to Sunday and beaming faces. But what's actually behind this magic, and why is healthy consumption so much more sustainable?

Minimalism: cleaning out to feed your inner Messi.

Get rid of everything that doesn't make you happy - enjoy the emptiness. Hah, nice. Yes, definitely, cleaning out can help achieve a sense of freedom. Somehow, you look more mindful of your belongings afterwards.

But then? Some continue to practice renunciation (and certainly fight a battle or two with their inner Monk). For the others, it's off into the fray. Shopping for new things - there's so much room in the closet now. We can't really detach ourselves from the primal man in us. We are hunters and gatherers! A new box for the rolled shirts is needed. By the way, Marie Kondo also knows this and is launching her products on the market at exactly the right moment. Now, after all the closets of the Western world have experienced the clear cut. Sorry, Marie, what was your message again? Oh yeah, we don't need much... but a few KonMari things like that... well.... 

First out, then back in

What we can thank the Marie Kondos of this world for: Thinking about our consumption. Fair point. However, we have two "buts" up our sleeves. First, consumption is not bad per se. We'll get to that in a moment. Second: decimation can be liberating - but it has nothing at all to do with minimalism or even conscious consumption if I then buy overpriced keyboard brushes (huh?), tea tins and new linen pajamas for 200 euros - labeled by the minimalism queen herself. First, everything unlovable (and lovable) is rigorously eliminated (that feeling of freedom!). And then new things are put into the closets. This is exactly not what we understand by mindful consumption today. Really not!

Sustainability is what counts!

Two years after the big KonMari boom, we need to rethink. Minimalism does not make the world a better place. But thinking, acting and consuming sustainably does. Good news: we "just" have to make sure we consume sustainably and thoughtfully. When we consume thoughtfully, we automatically consume less. 

Each of us wants to enjoy ourselves with a clear conscience, to go overboard, to go shopping. Taking the bar at the checkout simply because it looks sexy. That's a good thing, too, and no one has to be ashamed of that. It's not just how much you buy, it's what you buy!

If you're thinking to yourself now, "Sure, you say that - I sell lifestyle products, too". True. But: we wouldn't break a lance for consumption here if we weren't firmly convinced that you, you and you, all of you out there, can help with it. 

Now make a point!

Okay. Let's do it! Our message at this point: minimalism is not the answer - especially if it ends up in thoughtless consumption. If you feel like cleaning out, do it - but do it sustainably! Don't throw the stuff in the trash, donate it. Ask friends if they can do something with it, give it to the neighbors. And when you buy: buy wisely - because buying can help! Honestly!