Rethinking recycling and the Konmari Method

  • Reduce, reuse and recycle: Robin Trimingham believes we should upcycle, reuse and repurpose as many items as possible. In this photograph, centre, is the coffee pot she turned into a planter (Photograph supplied)

    Reduce, reuse and recycle: Robin Trimingham believes we should upcycle, reuse and repurpose as many items as possible. In this photograph, centre, is the coffee pot she turned into a planter (Photograph supplied)

Earlier this year I came across a Netflix series on Marie Kondo, the undisputed queen of tidying up.

In short, she believes that most of us are living in homes so overfilled with items that our cluttered dwellings are choking our psyches, making us less happy, dysfunctional beings.

She further asserts that the solution to this dysfunctionality is to assess each individual possession, from your largest television right down to your smallest pair of gym socks, and ask yourself whether each of these things “spark” a sensation of joy when you look at it.

Items that do spark joy are organised and tidied with great care using a system known as the Konmari Method (there are even lessons on the correct way to sort and fold the things you are keeping).

Everything else is “thanked” for the service it has provided you and sorted into piles to be sold, donated or thrown away.

Seeing this process through to the end is a daunting task that frequently involves a few tears as it forces you to handle and assess the worth of each of the things you have been storing in boxes or avoiding dealing with for emotional reasons, but well worth the trouble if your living environment and/or family relationships are less than optimally functional.

I guarantee your home will be more pleasant to live in and you will put some old emotional baggage to rest.

But in an age when we are beginning to struggle with issues of recycling and sustainability, does Marie Kondo go far enough?

On the one hand your living environment will look and feel better, which is good — but on the other hand getting rid of all your excess stuff might be viewed as simply making your secret hoarding tendencies someone else’s problem as we live on an island where there are limited ways to deal with non-recyclable trash.

So, what’s the solution?

While I don’t pretend to have all the answers, in an age where the world is being choked by plastic and every item that we have to import gets more and more expensive, I do feel it is time that we start challenging ourselves to come up with new ways to upcycle, reuse and repurpose as many of the items that we currently have as possible.

Today’s photo is a basic example of what I am referring to.

The modern black plastic planter in the centre is a once upon a time coffee maker that I originally purchased at The Barn for $15.

It finally ceased to work after a power outage and came within an inch of being set to Tynes Bay when I suddenly realised that it was completely hollow and would work very well as a flowerpot.

Is it eclectic and verging on tacky? Sitting on its own in the garden it might be, but imagine how modern and intentional it would look in the company of others.

Imagine how differently we would perceive it if we all had coffee pot planters.

For you see, my renegade planter is just proof that anyone can be a trendsetter and beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

Move over Marie Kondo — this planter sparks joy for me every time I walk past it.

Might even plant a few tomatoes when the weather cools down a little …

Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at, 538-8937 or

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Published Sep 17, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 17, 2019 at 7:25 am)

Rethinking recycling and the Konmari Method

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