‘Tidying up’ sparks joy for students, Western culture

Abby Hopkins

For many Americans, decades of consumerism leaves homes cluttered and families overwhelmed. A Netflix Original show is hoping to change that. 

 “Tidying Up” features Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo and her KonMari method. Kondo provides clients with organizational practices that focus on deciphering which possessions spark joy. Rooted in Japanese culture, the KonMari method is impacting the Western world and giving students a new outlook on their possessions by having them focus on tidying by category rather than location. 

 JoDei Pasasadaba, management information systems sophomore, said she has watched the show and practiced the method in her dorm. Pasasadaba has gone through each category — clothes, books, papers, sentimental objects and komono, or miscellaneous items. 

 “I felt like a lot of the time, my life was almost mirrored by the state of my room because if I got really busy or if I was trying to study for exams, my room would just get really messy,” Pasasadaba said. “(But) it’s become something that helps me calm down.”

 Joseph Schaub, Department of Asian Studies lecturer, said the method has roots in Japanese culture. For example, Kondo thanks each item she discards, which has ties to Shinto, a traditional Japanese religion. Shinto encompasses many kami, or spirits found in humans, nature and inanimate objects. 

 Kondo’s folding method is derived from origami and makes each item visible and easy to store. Schaub studied Japanese culture for nearly three decades, said the show’s rising popularity reflects a common trend: Americans seeking to fill the gaps in their own culture with Japanese traditions.

 “In a way, maybe it’s responding to certain deficiencies or things we might be seeing as problems in our own culture,” Schaub said. 

 Schaub said “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” stands out in an American television and culture that can come across as abrasive. 

 “In this era where there is political discourse and general interaction on things like Facebook and Twitter are so critical, the level of respect and civility that you see in ‘Tidying Up’ is really refreshing,” Schaub said. 

  In addition to the show’s display of courtesy, Schaub said Americans may also be drawn to how the KonMari method pulls away from consumerism and a quantitative mindset. 

 “We buy things based on the price … but something like sparking joy is difficult to measure,” Schaub said.

 Erin Mursch, founder of Organized for Good, a KonMari-certified organizing service in Austin, said she has noticed Americans’ tendency to seek convenient purchases as temporary solutions that ultimately have the reverse effect. Mursch said the KonMari method helps individuals discern what they value. 

 “It’s all self-guided and about your own journey and self-reflection,” Mursch said. “You can be a minimalist if that sparks joy for you, or you can have a lot of stuff — just well organized.”

 Mursch said for college students, carving out time during a break to consciously go through their belongings can build good organizational habits that impact other aspects of their lives. 

 “When you’re organized, you can think clearly about anything else,” Mursch said. “If you’re in a cluttered environment, your mind will be cluttered as well.”

 For Pasasadaba, the KonMari method doesn’t seem like a chore but rather a way to rest and unwind. 

 “I feel like a lot of college students feel like they constantly need to be studying or partying and cleaning feels like something that takes up real estate, but it’s an important part of taking care of yourself,” Pasasadaba said.