Sparking Joy: Before You Organize, Change How You Shop

“Sparking joy” is all the rage these days. Thanks to Marie Kondo, drawers around the world have found their organized way into our hearts. My social media feeds are filled with KonMari organizer boxes and Kondo’d kitchens. However, how long does this joy-filled journey last? What does the upkeep look like?

A few years ago I read Marie Kondo’s book Spark Joy and imbibed in the purge. It felt incredible. However…life, you know?! I have yet to dip a toe into her Netflix series, as unless we change the habits behind our purchasing and overabundance, our empty, more organized drawers – by habit – will tend to fill right back up.

Retail therapy is a real thing, friends.

“Sparking joy” in our drawers can spark a great sense of balance and order. However, it is fleeting unless we make it a lifelong commitment. Unless we are willing to change the habits behind the need for purging and organizing, the joy of order will only last so long. Before we organize our drawers, we need to look at the purchasing habits that led to the initial disarray and overabundance to begin with.


Our Purchasing Habits and Textile Waste

While news agencies are running stories about the increase in donations to local agencies like Goodwill or Salvation Army, they don’t shed light on the amount of textile waste that fills our landfills. According to the Council for Textile Recyling, 85% of our donated clothing ends up in the landfill.


As much as I love Marie Kondo, “sparking joy” is nothing more than a hashtag, a quick and temporary trend. A spark does no more than ignite the joy. It doesn’t keep that joy burning. Once ignited it has to be nurtured and tended to.  We are sparking a moment of joy by fangirling the newest trend, instead of committing to the work that leads to a lifetime of happiness. We have to commit to the work that goes into changing our habits and the thoughts that make us stop and consider our purchases and their necessity. We need to acknowledge that our purchasing habits are contributing to the degradation of our environment and the planet we hope to leave to our children. 

Whose joy are we sparking?

Though we feel good about taking our overabundance to a local charity, the majority of our donated textiles are either sent to the landfill or sold overseas to markets with a higher demand. Many of our discarded textiles end up in East Africa where our cheap hand-me-downs are either sold, [undermining their own textile industry] or burned [polluting their air].

We have literally turned another continent into the dumping grounds for our consumerism. 

So, how do we spark joy for everyone?

  • Reuse, reduce, recycle. Consider where you purchase your items. Thrifting is all the rage right now. Consider purchasing from Puddle Jumpers and Rain, Polka Dots & Denim, or Weetail instead of buying brand new. Have an infant? Babies outgrow clothing so quickly, consider borrowing from a friend or relative and then pay it forward.
  • Consider longevity Look for classic items that can stand the test of time. Need the latest trends and styles? Consider using companies like Rent-the-Runway for the latest trends without adding to your textile footprint. 
  • Know what you’re looking for. Are you looking for something in particular? Are you wandering the aisles for a little retail therapy? Target is the master of preying on consumer habit. There is a reason why we walk in needing toilet paper and walk out with 6 bags and $100 less in our wallet. Have a list and stick to the list so that companies don’t feed your need to buy. 

If we truly want to spark joy in our lives, we need to pay attention to our habits and make sure that we’re not just cleaning out our drawers to make more space to fill them back up again.

Do you consider your textile footprint when you purchase? If you’re part of the “Kondo Karavan” will you make an effort to consider your purchasing habits?

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