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‘Tidying Up’ sells Americans on the joy of decluttering

A popular Netflix show featuring Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo encourages people to discard items in their home that do not “spark joy.” The philosophy emphasized in “Tidying Up” has inspired a decluttering phenomenon across the U.S., prompting an unusual flood of donations to secondhand stores and provoking questions about consumerism and waste. Rhana Natour has the story.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Spring is around the corner, which, for some, means it's time to clean out the closets.

    As the "NewsHour's" Rhana Natour explains, a popular Netflix show featuring Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo encourages people to discard items in their home that do not spark joy.

  • Marie Kondo:

    Chose item that spark joy for you.

  • Rhana Natour:

    It's the phrase that's sparking a nationwide closet clean-out.

    In her Netflix show "Tidying Up," Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo helps people transform their cluttered home into tidy retreats. Kondo's bestselling 2014 book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" first popularized her trademark KonMari method.

    The method tackles decluttering by separating items into categories like clothes, books and sentimental items.

  • Man:

    This was the mailbox on the home when I purchased it.

  • Rhana Natour:

    The fundamental idea after that is simple: If an item sparks joy, it stays. If it doesn't, Kondo encourages people to thank the item for serving its purpose, then out it goes.

  • Woman:

    Thank you for letting me wear you. I like that. OK.

  • Rhana Natour:

    The show's inspiring such a tidying craze that secondhand stores nationwide are getting inundated with discarded items.

    Following the show's premiere, one Goodwill store in Maryland reported a 367 percent uptick in donations. In New York, a popular thrift store that buys used clothing is seeing wait times double for customers hoping to sell them their cast-off clothing.

  • Cindy Wheeler:

    I think at first we didn't really know what was happening. People were waiting in line, and you heard people talking about it, and they're like, oh, were you watching that show? Is that why you are here? Did you clean your closet out?

  • Rhana Natour:

    In Chicago, Ravenswood Used Books manager Barbara Strangeman says they're getting three times the number of books these days, nearly 30 boxes worth a weekend.

  • Barbara Strangeman:

    I noticed something was different because generally people are either moving, and they're not happy to get rid of their possessions. But people were happy. People were like, yay, I have got a clean shelf. Yay, these don't spark joy.

    And that's when I thought, oh, spark joy. I know that.

  • Rhana Natour:

    The show's tapped into the cultural zeitgeist in a major way, as illustrated by this "New Yorker" cartoon, and has propelled Marie Kondo into a household name in the U.S.

  • Stephen Colbert:

    I don't understand anything you're saying when you say it, but I would follow you to a cult compound and never…

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Rhana Natour:

    As to why the show, with its petite star who speaks very little English, has become such a sensation, professional organizer Jenny Albertini, who was trained by Marie Kondo in 2016, thinks it may be a form of stress relief.

  • Jenny Albertini:

    Going about our business in times of strife is just draining and stressful, so, like, how can we address on a daily basis things that will make us feel that we're more connected to our lives?

  • Rhana Natour:

    But is throwing things away a sustainable approach?

    When we watch the show, we see people throwing out just mounds of things. That seems to some people wasteful.

  • Jenny Albertini:

    Oh, I would really start five steps before then and say, I think the waste starts when we purchase those things.

    What I say to clients often, when we look at these piles that they have created, when we look at the bags of things that they're going out — saying, this is the last time you have to look at something like this. Like, you can choose from here on out that you don't have to live like this.

  • Rhana Natour:

    And you may want to get moving on decluttering that messy work desk, because Marie Kondo's next book, "Joy at Work," takes tidying up to the office. It is scheduled for release next spring.

    Consider yourself warned.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Rhana Natour in Washington, D.C.

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