Marie Kondo effect flows to Catholic charity

Newtown op shop
Store manager Megan with one day’s worth of clothing donations at the Vinnies store in Newtown. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

St Vincent de Paul NSW CEO Jack de Groot says he can’t say for sure that Japanese home organising expert Marie Kondo is responsible for January being the biggest month for donations the charity has ever seen, but “she definitely has something to do with it”.

Mr de Groot agreed there is “something in the zeitgeist” that has people purging excess clothing and other goods and donation collection centres have seen a 35 per cent increase in clothing compared with the same period last year.

See related article: Why losing the clutter is life-changing

The 30,000 kilos of donated clothing a week in western Sydney prior to Christmas jumped to 50,000 kilos each week in the post-Christmas period and over January.

Japanese organising guru Marie Kondo, famous for her 2012 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, had her Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo hit screens on January 1 and it’s sparked a decluttering craze that has hit households across the state.

Marie Kondo
Organising guru Marie Kondo’s methods have gone viral much to the delight of Vinnies op shop managers. PHOTO: Denise Crew/Netflix

Mr de Groot said that while Vinnies always sees an increase in donations during the New Year resolution period, this January topped them all while the quality has also been excellent.

“When people come to donate whether it’s the phrase ‘declutter’ or the name ‘Marie Kondo’ we definitely do hear that,” he said.

“I can’t give you any objective evidence that she is the reason but she is part of what’s happening, definitely.

“We’re very thankful of the level of the quality donations we’ve been getting his year.

“It helps us stock our shops throughout the state and increases our ability to address the needs of those people we meet who need assistance.”

Dress
The start of a new year, Australians’ appetite for home improvement and the Marie Kondo phenomenon has created a perfect storm of decluttering that Vinnies is using to fund its charitable services. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Anne Zahra, managing director of Kenvale College in Sydney’s east, said she hadn’t read the book or watched the show but isn’t surprised the Marie Kondo effect has taken such a hold.

The centre’s Home and Lifestyle Management Course includes a module that introduces students to the joys of decluttering and organising the home.

“We want our homes to be havens but many of us are overwhelmed when we step into our home space,” she said.

“Our society does not really give importance to the home, but it’s another cause of stress when we don’t have the necessary skill sets or the habit of giving priority to the tasks in our homes.

“People say the course has brought about transformations in people and been quite liberating.”

Daphne Paris
Daphne Paris found that Marie Kondo’s methods are compatible with her Catholic spirituality.

Course graduate Daphne Paris said she was trialled the KonMari method of decluttering, donating and organising what was left and was “pleasantly surprised” at how how easy it was for her young family to maintain.

She’s even incorporated it into her daily prayer life as a Catholic, thanking God for the blessing of a safe place to live and offering up her “unending laundry” for the intentions of the Pope.

Through the course Mrs Paris “discovered that the apparently mundane housework tasks have value because of the dignity those for whom we are doing them”.

“Which, for me, means that by doing my fancy new folding and organising with love, I can simultaneously stay organised, love my family and offer it to God. Win win win.”

Clothing rack
A second-hand clothing display at Newtown Vinnies. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Mr de Groot said it was important to only donate good-quality materials and that not all stores were able to conduct safety tests on second-hand electrical equipment.

“Vinnies faces a waste bill each year of around 1.75 million so the one thing we do ask people when doing their decluttering is to think about what they want to give to Vinnies,” he said.

See related article: Planners, manners and spanners: learning the art of home management

“If you’re not too sure, ring one of the shops or donation centres, and say ‘This is what I’ve got, do you have any use for it?’”

For information about Kenvale’s Home and Lifestyle Management Courses see kenvale.edu.au, email [email protected] or call 9314 6213.

What you can and can’t donate to Vinnies

Yes please

Men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories
Homewares, including manchester
Kids’ toys
Books, CDs and DVDs
Furniture (check your local Vinnies is able to take furniture)
Electrical appliances (some Vinnies shops take electrical goods, please call your local shop before dropping off)

No thanks

Ripped, torn, soiled or stained clothing
Broken, ripped or stained furniture
Cracked or broken homewares
Stained bedding including mattresses
Green waste
Household waste
Computers, printers and scanners

See related article: Simcha Fisher: How to spark joy with the junk that no longer sparks joy