The Big Decluttering Step You Won't Find In The KonMari Method

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The Marie Kondo empire of books, products, and binge-worthy television taught us many skills: how to cut down on clutter, cherish our belongings with vigor, and fold sweatshirts within an inch of their lives, among others. But somehow the question of why we buy things in the first place, and how we should get rid of them when we're through with them got lost in the joy-chasing shuffle.

Dany D'Andrea, the personal organizer to mbg Collective members the likes of Sophie Jaffe and Jordan Younger, takes a more holistic approach to decluttering. With her LA-based company, Spatial Solutions, D'Andrea stresses the entire life cycle of objects when working with clients.

"When getting rid of things, most people are trying to move them out as quickly as possible," D'Andrea tells mbg. "I want people to be aware that while it's great to declutter our spaces, we have a responsibility to do so in an environmentally conscious way."

We chatted with the organizer about how to make sure your "to donate" pile doesn't end up in a landfill and how to keep that mountain of stuff from building in the first place. Here are the highlights:

How can people get better about donating stuff after they declutter?

"Ultimately you need to take your time with this," D'Andrea says. That means doing your research to find out what donation sites exist in your area and what they accept (a quick Google search should help you find this out!). One nearly universal tip? Old towels and blankets probably won't be accepted at your local Goodwill, but they would be appreciated at your local animal shelter.

"Unfortunately, waste protocol varies by city and by state. For example, all batteries are considered hazardous waste in the state of California," D'Andrea says. "They must be recycled or taken to a household hazardous waste disposal facility."

While it takes a bit of time to plan your donation route and do drop-offs, you've already committed to cleaning your house, so just think of this as part of the larger task.

What's one thing that most people don't realize can be donated?

"Textiles can always be reused!" she says. "Many retailers will take old clothes, sheets, towels and recycle them for you. You can take your unusable clothes to H&M, Levi's, and Northface to be reused or recycled."

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Why is it important to declutter mindfully, and what does that really mean?

"Mindful decluttering is really the process of constantly assessing what's serving us and what isn't," D'Andrea explains. To help people figure that out, she starts by asking them a simple question: Why do you have this item? Their gut response says a lot, and making excuses for why you're holding on to something is usually a sign it's got to go. "In order to be mindful about what we get rid of, we must first be aware of why it landed in our space in the first place," she says.

In the end, she says the goal is to live in a place where you look around and can honestly say, "I love this" about pretty much everything in sight.

I noticed you said "constantly" assessing—how often should we be editing our homes?

It turns out, doing one massive decluttering session a year might not be the best way to foster a home that feels fulfilling. Instead, D'Andrea suggests constantly looking around your space with a critical eye and allowing yourself to make tweaks from there. For example, if she comes home one day and feels like a room seems a little stale, she'll play around with moving things around and introducing new accessories until it feels just right. Follow your intuition, and always ask yourself how a space makes you feel.

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