My Thoughts on Decluttering and a Capsule Wardrobe

Everyone is talking about decluttering these days, right? Like in all the blogs and in real life I feel like everyone is talking about how super great it feels to declutter and how awesome it is to have a capsule wardrobe with only like 40 pieces of clothes (including basic tops) etc. Since the topic seems to be everywhere, I could not help but think about it too.

I actually thought about it for the past six months. It was a friend of mine who brought the topic to my attention. She had a decluttering coach coming to her house who helped her declutter her wardrobe. At the end of the day she was left with 40 pieces and she told me she felt better than ever with her closet. She was so happy and excited and continued to declutter her entire home, including almost all of her babys clothes, toys, old books, etc. etc.

Since my friend was so excited about the topic I started reading a  little about it and got familiar with the differnt types of capsule wardrobes (30 pieces, rotating pieces for every season, 15 pieces…) and the whole philosophy of decluttering. Marie Kondo was basically the one who set up the whole decluttering craze as she wrote this book called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. In her book she recommends not to treat nostalgia as a friend and to throw away every piece in your house which does not make your happy. You are supposed to tackle different categories (clothes, books, kitchen equipment…) and hold every piece/book/plate/etc. in your hand for a moment and ask ourself “does this give me joy?”. If the answer is not a clear YES then its the trash can.

capsule wardrobe

Now there is a big question mark behind the sustainability of throwing things away just because one does not find them flattering any more, besides of that this sounds good and easy doesn’t it? This is what I thought in the beginning and I started tackling the different categories. However, saying YES or now is not as easy as one might think in the first place.

There are books that I loved to read as a kid and I have not touched them in years, however, maybe my kids will like them later – Kondo (and other decluttering fans) would say: throw them out!

There is kitchen equipment in my kitchen that is not very pretty and I would rather have pretty one but it still works – Kondo would say: throw it out and buy new ones which gives you joy.

There are clothes in my closet that I have not worn in years and still I really like them and they make me happy just by looking at them – Kondo would say: throw them out.

And here starts my criticism on the whole concept: How can that be sustainable?

How can it be sustainable to throw away a toaster just because I do not enjoy its color any longer and buy a new one instead?

How can it be sustainable to throw away all the clothes my baby does not longer wear and buy a whole new set for the next baby?

How can it be sustainable to throw away a skirt that I have not worn in two years even though I now that I usually tend to like the colors/styles/prints that I do not like now in about 5 years again (yes, I realized I have this five year cycle; five years I cannot stand pink and then for 5 years all I wear it pink etc.).

And what is the bad thing about Nostalgia?

Why is it bad when I keep my doll house from when I was a kid so that my little one can play with it now?

Why is it bad when I keep my wooden beads so that my little one can make necklaces with them now?

Why is it bad that my mother kept her Hess Natur blouses so that I can wear them now?

If my mother would have decluttered, I would have had to buy all the toys my little one is enjoying now. Sure, I could have bought them second hand so that it is more sustainable. However, my doll house has a whole different story than any other second hand doll house. As do my mothers old Hess Natur blouses, as do the toy blocks my brother kept forever in his basement so that my little on can play with them now, as do the childrens books my mother in law kept forever so that I can read them now for my little one etc. 

I do not think that nostalgia is a bad thing. I believe that it is sustainable to KEEP things. To keep the childrens clothes and toys for the next child, to keep the books that I read when I was younger so that my children can read them, to keep the ugly toaster as long as it still works and NOT to throw it away just because I find another one more beautiful.

When I go through my clothes today, I will be able to sort out a ton. When I look through them again six months later, I will want 60% of them back in my closet . This happend to me A LOT. I sell clothes on the fleamarket around twice a year and every time when I unpack the suitcases of clothes at the fleamarket, there are quite a few pieces which I do not sell anyway, because suddenly I realize how much I love them (I almost sold some of my very favorite and most worn clothes). Because this is how it is; on Monday I like something else than on Tuesday and on Friday I find the sweater from Monday not good at all whereas on Sunday I love it again.

And I personally belive that I am not the only one which taste is just changing over a certain period of time. This is life – we change, we like things today that we may not like tomorrow and we hate things today which we will not find that bad tomorrow. And this is why I do not believe in decluttering the way Marie Condo is doing it.

capsule wardrobe part

I think “hardcore decluttering” is not sustainable. And this is why I do not like the concept very much. However, this does not mean that some “soft decluttering” is harming anyone. I enjoyed decluttering in the past few months, even though I did not throw out that much. I go through my clothes and my books every once in  a while and I sort out those books that I did not enjoy a lot and those clothes where I can see that they have poor quality and they will not last long anyway. And it feel very good doing it.

I do also believe that it is a good idea to get rid of those polyester clothes because they will lead micro plastic into our ground water every time I wash them.I do also believe it is important to get rid of those plastic containers I used to have in my kitchen because I do not want to have my food touch any plastic.  And still, I think it is not sustainable just to throw out an item and exchange it with a new one simply because the new one “gives you more joy”.

Now this was another long blog post! This is basically my interpretation of what I have read so far. Maybe I missed a few really important points!? Let me know your thoughts and help me figuering it out 🙂 ! How do you feel about decluttering and a capsule wardrobe? I really would love to know!

And talking about capsule wardrobes, there is one project that I personally find really really cool: Honest Rosie is a fashion collection consisting of 6 items with which you can create 30 looks! I can critizise the concept of a capsule wardrobe and still LOVE this project (which will be on kickstarter from March 1 on). Because I know that this will inspire a lot of people to think twice about their consumer choices and getting creative with the things they have. And this is what I hope for in the end: that everyone is more conscious about how they consume and what they consume. I will write more about Honest Rosie and the whole topic of loving and respecting your clothes, buying fair and ethical and thinking twice about your choices.

For today, I think this post is long enough 😀

 

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  1. Kirei Kana
    Januar 16, 2017 / 1:19 am

    i agree) I don’t like this all thing with “cleanin up” and trowing out stuff around you
    KireiKana

  2. Januar 16, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    I believe in decluttering to a certain point, so one can donate clothes to others, for instance. But pieces that I’m just tired of are always saved and relocated to a box or somewhere I don’t have to be bothered by them every day! Xx

    http://www.thefashionfolks.com

  3. Januar 16, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    This is such a wonderful post! I love to declutter, but the useful and good items I either give to friends or donate to a reputable charity. It does feel good. Thank you so much for sharing, Happy New Year and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. 🙂

  4. Januar 16, 2017 / 7:02 pm

    A move like that can be life changing! Amazing idea to make it work on entire home!

  5. Amy Arnold
    Januar 17, 2017 / 3:12 am

    I don’t know that I agree with such extreme decluttering either. I think you often end up getting rid of too much. Thoughtful post.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  6. Januar 17, 2017 / 3:41 am

    Very interesting post! I have a seen a lot of decluttering your life posts with it being the new year but I don’t believe in hardcore decluttering either! I have a jumper that I don’t wear very often at all but it was my mums and is 15 years old. Just because I don’t wear often doesn’t mean I should throw it out, though. We don’t want to hoard things obviously but a lot of the things I own have sentimental value now. It’s all about getting the right balance between not hoarding but also not being wasteful! Thank you for the food for thought. xxx

  7. Januar 18, 2017 / 5:10 am

    I completely agree with you in that extreme decluttering can become incredibly wasteful. I’m also reluctant to get rid of things I am particularly attached to, even if I haven’t worn it in a while. I find I always end up wearing favorite pieces I save down the road.

  8. Januar 18, 2017 / 6:27 pm

    Hmm,actually I didnt know anything about it! Interesting idea, but when I started reading,I was more and more against.I agree with you,nostalgia is a good thing, I could never ever throw away books or some items from the past.My grandma didnt do it too,so now I can wear some of her clothes from the past, which are now in fashion again. Basically I dont like to throw away anything,cos I dont buy much and I think it is the key.I buy stuff that I really need. Anyway I hope you are fine now,cos I was sorry to hear you were sick! Have a lovely week,hugs☺☺

  9. Januar 21, 2017 / 1:12 am

    Dear Rosa,

    I read your post a few days ago and was very interested to hear your thoughts about decluttering. Since I’m the friend you’re referring to I feel like adding a few points to make sure, some important aspects of my point of view get through. First of all I have to say I’m totally on your side when it comes to the question of sustainabilty and ‘throwing things out’. It’s a common criticism on Marie Kondo’s ‘method’ and people argue that it’s due to a different culture of sustsainabilty in Japan. However, this is where your term ‘soft decluttering’ fits for me, and it is exactly the thing I’m doing: wrap up the stuff that doesn’t make you happy in a box and gift it to friends, store it in the basement if you cant let it truly go or donate it at a refugees help center. Still, you’re missing an important thing: Kondo doesn’t state to get rid of things you don’t wear: it’s about getting rid of stuff that doesn’t make you happy anymore. This is a huge difference. It means you donÄt have to throw out a blouse, just because you didn’t wear it for 2 years. In the Kondo method, you take the piece in your hands, touch and FEEL if you love it, not thinking if another colour would be better: the piece and your immediate feeling is in the center of the process. The main thought in Kondo’s method, unlike other decluttering programms like the 33challenges, is to surround you with things that make you happy and by tiding up your environment cleaning up your inner mind (idea of inner vs. outer chaos and how our surrounding reflects our inner order/scatterdness etc.). So the center of her particular method is not sustainability. However in my point of view, the two aspects can be combinded perfectly. For example for me, its a total relief to look in my wardrobe and only see pieces I really love. The difference to my wardbore before is, that I looked at many pieces I didnt really like´, but thought I should keep them cause I cant afford others. Now that I sold them on the flea market or gifted them to friends, I dont miss them at all and fill my life with a feeling of abundance looking at my wardbore, even though there are less pieces, but the ones I have are high quality, mostly organic and just awesome. My friend who did the coaching with me also combines her own perspective on sustainibility AND points of the Kondo method. For Kondo e.g. its important to let go belief systems that dont serve us anymore, like: I have to keep 10 usb sticks in my flat cause I might need them once. Instead of this, she encourages her readers to think about what they really need and to believe in the fact, that if there comes the time when 10 usb-sticks are needed, LIFE will support me with exactly what I need in that special moment. Its not about throwing things out, just because they arent beautiful. I hope you get my point 🙂 And I’m certain there’s gonna be a post on my blog about this soon, as I could write forever about it 🙂 So Rosa, I think its super cool your mother kept all the stuff for your little one, and that you are keeping things for the future. To me, it shows you really love these things 🙂 Big hugs and see you soon my dear!

    • Januar 21, 2017 / 2:54 pm

      Much much love to you Agata! And thanks for your words! I couldn’t agree more. Soft decluttering can be wonderful. I referred to you in the beginning, as being the one who got me think about the whole topic. But my critical thoughts began first after reading more about it, after reading through blogs which were so excited about their capsule wardrobe and then next season they buy like an entire new capsule wardrobe and throw the old one out. Sure everyone is free to do what they like but I just find it difficult when people start thinking in the “I will just throw this away – when I need it again and I can buy it new” categories. And this, unfortunately, happens a lot. Can’t wait to see you next weekend for more 🙂

  10. naomella
    Januar 22, 2017 / 8:33 pm

    Oh ich liebe diesen Artikel! Ich stimme dir vollkommen zu!!! Sachen wegzuschmeißen und Neue dafür zu kaufen ist doch nicht nachhaltig. Auch ich könnte die Babykleidung meiner Tochter nie wegschmeißen, sondern hebe sie für weitere Kinder oder für sie eines Tages auf für ihre Kids. Und ich habe eine Puppe, die ich seit 30 Jahren besitze reparieren lassen und jetzt meiner Tochter vererbt. Da hat doch Nostalgie einen besonderen Stellenwert. Bei Kleidung ist es so eine Sache, ich sortiere regelmäßig aus und verschenke vieles an Freundinnen. Aber ich würde nie etwas wegschmeißen, nur weil ich es die letzten 12 Monate nicht getragen habe. Ich ticke hier anders, manchmal trage ich etwas 2 Jahre nicht und dann auf einmal doch wieder. Ganz liebe Grüße

    http://www.naomella.com

  11. Januar 24, 2017 / 6:51 am

    I have a Pinterest board to (one day but probably not… lol…) build a capsule wardrobe. I do like some things about minimalism, but I’m definitely someone that condo would be like, “throw them away!” to. Ha ha!


    Amber
    All the Cute