Holidays, happiness, and the post-consumerist gospel of KonMari

For two weeks, an empty Zappos box with two shopping bags from Nordstrom and Sur La Table tucked into it has presided over my living room. It’s just sitting there in the center of the floor, a testimony to a few guilt-ridden holiday deal purchases, for three reasons: One, I can’t figure out if the Nordstrom bag is recyclable; and two, I’ve been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the organizational bible by Marie Kondo; and three, I’m a masochist.

If you agree that anthropogenic climate change is happening, you have to come to terms with the fact that every object you buy contributes to it in some way. There’s a parallel in Kondo’s KonMari Method: That you have to come to terms with the ways in which all of the objects you have acquired impact the health of your home and your mind. It’s a microlevel environmental awareness: Purge your habitat of contamination, and you can flourish within it. Disrespect the habitat, and you’ll suffer. As Kondo writes: “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

You can read a million breathless accounts of how the KonMari method has changed lives by getting rid of things, to the extent that it’s used as a verb. (I KonMari, you KonMari, we all KonMari!) But how can the practice change how you buy new things? In this season of buying — increasingly more for ourselves than for others — I wanted to know....more