Making decluttering cool



Is it possible that something as mundane as decluttering can actually be interesting and, dare we say it, kinda cool? Two recently released books, one by a bestselling author and decluttering guru, the other an old Swedish lady who’s probably about to kick the bucket, seem to think so. 

Not many of us enjoy decluttering, especially if you’re one of those people who’s been collecting random crap for the last twenty years, and moving it around from house to house every few years. But there are those in the know who are convinced that decluttering is a way of life, and they’re doing their best to bring their philosophies to the rest of the world. 

Decluttering, says clean queen and New York Times bestselling author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondō, is as much about renewing and refreshing your life as it is cleaning your home. The process is a spiritual one: of letting go of that which does not ‘spark joy’ in your life, and cherishing the belongings that are truly meaningful. Her philosophy focuses on changing your mentality and way of thinking, and looks at materiality and how your possessions—what you keep and what you part with—are a reflection of both your character and your life. 

Kondō’s latest book, The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up, takes it up a notch by getting those pesky kids you spawned to clean their rooms and enjoy it. Sorry, what? By taking the KonMari™️ philosophies and methodologies of her previous books and turning them into a fun, accessible graphic novel, Kondō is converting the messiest of children into clutter-free kids. Can it be true? Yep, those teen and tween pork chops who roll their eyes at their parents every time they’re told to tidy up, are folding their clothes perfectly, reorganising their desks and donating the clothes they no longer wear. Will it work for all kids? Probably not, but it’s probably a good start.

At the other end of the age spectrum, Margareta Magnusson looks at döstädning, literally translated as “death cleaning”. In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, the 80-100-year-old writer (her words, not mine) looks to her own experience of losing her husband, having to downsize her house and take care of his possessions. Rather than having a morbid outlook on the task of rifling through a lifetime of objects, the death cleaning was a celebration of his life and memories.

But at the same time, Magnusson believes we should all start our own death cleaning before we hit 65, making life easier for those who’ll be left to go through our stuff once we’ve kicked the bucket. Going through your own possessions, sorting through what’s precious and what’s disposable shouldn’t raise questions of mortality, but rather, be a look back at the life you’ve lived by appreciating the belongings and memories you’ve collected along the way.  A practical approach to the process, Magnusson’s humourous writing style, anecdotes and advice are joyful and, perhaps ironically, focus on the importance of living by preparing for our deaths.

Buy The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning at Scribe.
The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up is available through The Book Depository