Marie Kondo’s ‘tidying up effect’ proves boom for Scotland’s charity shops

A new craze has hit homes across Scotland as Marie Kondo’s ‘tidying up effect’ takes force. If you’re not aware of it, the series on Netflix features Marie Kondo, an ‘organising consultant’ who visits people in their homes to help them de-clutter. The series is inspiring people all over the world to clear out their belongings and figure out how to use their space more efficiently.

Tidying up with Marie Kondo.

As the trend has developed, some charity shops have noted an increase in donations. A rise in donations means more funds for the shop’s charity, roles for volunteers and significant value in helping to sustain a busy high street. Another major benefit to donations is the positive environmental impact. A clear house makes a clear mind…and a cleaner environment? Well, the reuse activity of charity shops keeps 35,000 tonnes of textile out of landfill in Scotland every year which reduces carbon emissions and saves local authorities on landfill tax.

The Netflix series, encouraging people to tidy out regularly and contribute their unwanted goods might help to spark a lifelong relationship between charity shops and previously ambivalent passers-by.

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While many Kondo fans may revert to their old, messier ways eventually, this ‘trend’ may well stick with some. If this is what it appears to be – something which genuinely makes people feel better about themselves, their homes and their wellbeing – then it’s good news.

We are very much in need of enthusiasm around more sustainable ways of living. Building a relationship with a local charity shop may be the first step for some. Meet the volunteers and staff behind the hard work, see what products they sell and find out what donations they would most benefit from.

Marie Kondo’s clearing out strategy encourages people to only keep items which ‘spark joy’ in their lives. Add the bonus of contributing to a good cause after a successful tidy-up and we’re certainly on to something which can make us feel better. Charity shops in Scotland contribute to a range of causes including medical research, hospice care, homelessness support, animal protection and much more. Across the country there are more than 900 charity shops from big chains to individual outlets, each making a hugely valuable contribution to their communities.

Many shops note a rise in donations each January anyway but this year has been particularly fruitful for some.

Joe Orrock, manager of the Cancer Research UK superstore in Corstorphine, Edinburgh, says donations of good quality items from shoppers soars in January.

“We’re definitely noticing the Marie Kondo tidying up effect,” says.

“January is an amazing time of year for us and taking time to de-clutter is a great way to feel fabulous at the start of a new year. We’d like to thank all our supporters who help us fund vital research into cancer by donating unwanted good quality goods.

“In an average week during the rest of the year our superstore receives around 1,400 bags’ worth of donations from the public every week but in January this rises to around 2,000 bags every week.

“We’re all guilty of holding on to clothes that don’t fit or that we no longer wear. Donating them to Cancer Research UK will help free up wardrobe space and generate the positive feeling that comes from supporting life-saving research. We also welcome good-quality homeware including books, DVDs and crockery.

“Each bag of clothing donated to a Cancer Research UK shop is potentially worth up to £25 - even more if supporters sign up for Gift Aid.”

Passing on pre-loved items gives someone else the chance to receive ‘joy’ from it. A key strength of charity shops is the variety on offer due to donations – shoppers are faced with a unique choice of products. There is hope that reuse activity in Scotland will become much more prominent in our daily lives. Uuntil recently, there has been a heavy focus on recycling, yet reuse activity is equally as important. In the Scottish Government’s December announcement for the next budget, funding to the tune of £20 million was committed for zero waste and transition towards a circular economy. A key aim is to reuse manufactured products and keep them in the economy for as long as possible before they end up in landfill.

For those that don’t want to fully embrace the Marie Kondo effect, perhaps a smaller commitment of regular trips to the charity shop is more realistic. It’s maybe not something we want to admit, but tidying up is good for the soul.

Rachel Blair is Public Affairs and Communications Officer for the Charity Retail Association in Scotland, which represents 85 per cent of charity shops in Scotland.