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Knowledge Base // MSW

How to Marie Kondo Your Office Without Feeding the Landfill

Ever feel like your cubicle could inspire a new season of Hoarders: Office Edition? Read on for our ‘waste not, want not’ approach, and how to become a minimalist without feeding the landfill.

Andy Rihn | April 29, 2016



Ever feel like your cubicle could inspire a new season of Hoarders: Office Edition? Know that "Spring Cleaning" is a thing, but feel distinctly unmotivated to do anything about it? We at RoadRunner HQ were equally disinclined to clean house. That is, until we were introduced to "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," and decided to apply our resident garbologist's green lens to the motivational 'KonMarie' method. Read on for our 'waste not, want not' approach, and how to become a minimalist without feeding the landfill.


RoadRunner's Garbologist on The KonMarie Method, Spring Cleaning and Starving the Landfill

Just in case you've been buried too deep under three decades' worth of your company's paper archives, let's take a quick look at the woman who has ignited a global passion for tackling clutter with her international bestseller, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up." Marie Kondo, who FastCo has not-inappropriately nicknamed The "Beyoncé of Organization," is a national celebrity in her home country of Japan and a beloved figure worldwide. With her thorough, purge-all method, the organizational consultant touched a nerve, sparking an intense urge to clean in a nation notorious for its on-going romance with accumulating stuff.


Just so you know this is not mere drama, bear with me on a quick tangent regarding America's acute accumulation habit. Because Kondo spends much time extolling the glory of a clean closet, let's dive in by way of textiles; which, just so you know, boast nearly the lowest recycling rates of any reusable material. Which is becoming quite a problem, as we now buy five times the amount of clothing we purchased in 1980. And, thanks to the rise of "fast fashion," - fodder for another blog post entirely - we're not buying these clothes to keep for the long run. Once we realize faux suede isn't quite our thing, we toss it, sending over 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfill every year.

Marie Kondo, A.K.AMarie Kondo, A.K.A. "The Beyoncé of Organization"


While hopefully your offices are not full to bursting with plastic hangers and last season's trends, they do tend to accumulate a whole lot of stuff - stacks of files, piles of old Tupperware, abandoned novels from a well-intended office book club. This stuff, being your office stuff, is likely not on a high priority list of your most favorite things. In fact, as you're cavalierly leaving these objects strewn around your cubicle or the conference room, it's more likely you're trying to get rid of this stuff. And what does Marie Kondo say about objects that no longer bring us joy? She says, repeatedly: "throw them away"!

Suddenly, the book seems less about tidying and more about stemming the tide of stuff. In a recent review, the Economist writes: "Her gripe that most resonates is not that we buy goods unnecessarily, or that the planet cannot keep up, but that the abundance of stuff is becoming unmanageable." As we struggle to find the motivation for a spring cleaning, to regain control of our living and working spaces, we begin waging a war against the stuff we think we want. Here we realize "the book is more about a a philosophy of owning things." As proponents of conscious capitalism and consumerism, of recycling and reusing, we believe in being responsible for the life cycle of things you own.

Phew! In just a few paragraphs, Kondo has brought us on a philosophical journey spanning the joys of decluttering and stretching all the way to the crux of modern sustainability. But, once we decide our offices will be more conducive to creativity and will help foster productivity once they have fewer desks and smaller piles of papers, where do we send them? It's at this crucial stage that your office can truly make a difference when Kondoing.


Every time Kondo writes: 'throw away,' read: 'recycle.'

You can start applying this in broad strokes, as you start making your way through the categories of stuff in your office, as Kondo suggests:

Take those piles of papers that are nearing the ceiling tiles. We all know those stacks of paper stamped with 2004 quarterly numbers never brought you any joy, so get 'em outta there! But, carefully. Clean office paper is actually an incredibly valuable resource - it takes a lot of energy to make (10 liters of water are required to produce just one piece of paper) and it saves a lot of resources to recycle (1 ton of recycled paper saves around 682.5 gallons of oil, 26,500 liters of water and 17 trees). Consider setting up small paper only recycling bins by employees' desks, or by the printer station, to naturally encourage workplace recycling.

Now, about that e-waste! This is every office's least favorite kind of waste and yet quite possibly the fastest growing type of waste stream - an estimated 30 to 50 million electronic devices are thrown away every year. No one quite knows what to do with all the non-functioning laptops, used batteries, broken monitors and a whole slew of other gizmos and gadgets, but turns out they're worth billions. Collect them all together and find out if you have a large enough supply to earn reimbursement. If there is hope for a second life, consider sending them to Gazelle for refurbishment. Otherwise, consider donating them to the local Goodwill or bringing them to Best Buy. Reach out our way if you need more help identifying places to recycle your used electronics.

We love the KonMarie method for its inherent clean stream philosophy and its respect for the objects it tidies. So, happy Spring Cleaning, readers! In the comments section below, let us know your methods for Kondoing responsibly. And, now that you have got the sustainability bug, perhaps you'd like to learn more about spearheading an Office Eco Ambassador program; learn how to HERE. And remember, the RoadRunner is always here for you - our analysts love conducting free waste and recycling audits.


Let's get the conversation started on how to drive recycling and cost savings for your business.