Decluttering guru Marie Kondo has tapped Americans’ desire to clean up their complicated lives
On a cold January afternoon in Manhattan, Riley Soloner was visiting the Upper East Side outpost of the Container Store, a retailer that specializes in goods to help customers better organize the messes of modern life. Soloner was searching for a new laundry hamper because his old one no longer brought him joy. For many, that wouldn’t be adequate reason to consign it to the trash heap. But for adherents of Japanese home organization guru Marie Kondo— including Soloner, 30, who has watched her popular show on Netflix and read her best-selling books— even a mundane hamper is expected to bring happiness to its owner or be discarded. “I’m getting a high and mighty feeling over people [who are] just doing this now,” says Soloner, who is on his second round of winnowing down the possessions in his home.
Kondo, Japan’s reigning queen of tidiness, wants to save the millions of people like Soloner from clutter—and perhaps clean up financially along the way. The home organizing consultant is riding a huge media wave thanks to the success of her Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, which made its debut on Jan. 1. Her decluttering method, in which personal possessions are tossed or retained depending on whether they “spark joy,” is catching on with Americans oppressed by way too much stuff.
The show’s premise is simple: Kondo visits families across the U.S. to bring order to their homes and thereby their lives, item by item. As families go through their clutter, they’re told to thank and say goodbye to the things that no longer bring joy. What’s ensued has been nothing short of a cultural moment, as viewers become devotees. They’re flooding social media with photos of items stored in neat rows and containers, engaging in debates over whether things such as books should be tossed, and creating memes that poke fun at Kondo’s consumerist minimalism.
Netflix has another likely hit on its hands, and there’s been a noted uptick in social media chatter about home organization in the U.S. Meanwhile, as people say goodbye to their no- longer-wanted items, Goodwill and Salvation Army stores have reported higher donations than usual for January.
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