Click here to give to our Emergency Recovery Fund for COVID‑19

Your donation will go to local nonprofit organizations experiencing increased demand for services and capacity as they work to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible.
United Way
of Whatcom County

Sparking Joy: Can the KonMari Method change the world?

February 20, 2019

If you aren’t yet familiar with best-selling author and Netflix sensation Marie Kondo, you owe it to yourself to make “Tidying Up” your next Netflix binge. KonMari is more than a method; it’s a lifestyle – a lifestyle that boils down to one thing: choosing joy.

Kondo asks her clients to go through their belongings and to keep only those items that spark joy. There’s more to it than that, of course. Her method has specific rules for categorizing items, the order in which items should be sifted through, specific organization techniques, etc., but, the purpose behind all of it is to lead a more joyful life.

As millions of KonMari fans haul non-joy-sparking items to donation centers by the carload, we can imagine the possibilities our new focus on joy will bring.

What if this simple act of committing to a life with less things can change not just individual lives, but entire communities?

Come along for a fictional walk through what could very well be one person’s KonMari impact:

Jane sorts through her clothing. She takes the clothes that no longer spark joy to YWCA’s Back-to-Work Boutique. Meanwhile, Erin has been trying to find work for several months following an unexpected lay-off that turned her life upsidedown and left her unable to pay rent. She finally gets an interview, but doesn’t have anything professional to wear. Her former job required a uniform, so she never really needed business attire. Thanks to Jane’s donation to the Back-to-Work Boutique, Erin is able to pick out an outfit that helps her look the part and gives her the confidence she needs to put her best foot forward. She lands the job and is able to get back on her feet.

When Jane gets to her camping gear, she decides the older of her two sleeping bags no longer brings her joy. It’s in good shape, but she really loves her upgrade. She schedules a donation drop-off with Northwest Youth Services and takes them the sleeping bag. They give it to Ben, a young adult recently aged out of the foster system and now experiencing homelessness. Ben can now focus on other basic needs and worry less about keeping warm at night.

Staff at Northwest Youth Services organize clothing donations for local youth in need.

While Jane is going through her kitchen items, she comes up with a whole box of bakeware that sparked tons of joy while her kids were little, but just doesn’t have that same effect anymore. She packs another box with dishes. Jane takes the perfectly good items to Goodwill and to Wise Buys, a thrift store run by Lydia Place. The items are sold to families who want them and the proceeds help fund Goodwill’s Adult Basic Education and Job Training Program and Lydia Place’s housing and parent support programs. Amanda is a young mom seeking help from both of these programs. She and her toddler live at Lydia Place while she relies on Goodwill to prepare her for her GED test.

Jane finishes tidying her home. She feels calm and joyful. What’s more? She knows she made a difference. She may never know how much she helped Erin, Ben, and Amanda with her simple kindness, but she does know that Living United sparks a whole lot of joy.