KonMari your papers

A quick post about something not directly related to trash:

I plan to write a post soon about the ecological effects of paper–and what you can do to avoid sending paper to the landfill. But I have a feeling that many people will read it and feel overwhelmed. Then maybe guilty. Then maybe think “I feel bad about the trees, but there isn’t much I can do about it.” Just the words “ecological effects” might make you want to run away. I totally understand! I felt pretty much the same way until 2017, when my husband and I radically changed our lives after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up. If you haven’t read it, you might want to stop reading this and go put a hold on it at the library 🙂 I highly recommend you read it, and then put it into action! We “KonMaried” our home, and it really did change our lives.

However, there is one part of the book that I did not put fully into practice until last month. Papers. We did get rid of about 80% of the papers we own. I mean really, did I need to save the slides to every medical presentation I’ve ever been to!?!? But we hadn’t put into place the KonMari method for keeping papers in order. Without this organization, over the past year we have continued to accumulate papers everywhere and it was driving me crazy. With junk mail overflowing and no good place to put it, they kept being put into piles on the counter until I could “deal with it later,” resulting in papers all over and me never calling the companies to tell them to stop mailing us dead trees.

The KonMari method has two parts: Discard first, then put away. Seems simple, right? It is! I’m not going to go into all the details of the method, because you should read the book. But real quick, her basic advice about papers is this: Discard everything. Well, maybe keep your birth certificate and tax docs for 7 years back. But get rid of mostly everything else. Then, when you put what away what you have left, divide them into only three categories: Keep forever, Keep for a while, and To do.

So my 4 year old and I pulled out all the papers we could find in the whole house and this is what we found, which is a lot considering we got rid of about 80% of our papers last year:


This includes sentimental papers since I am an advanced Konmarier (yes, that’s a noun), but you shouldn’t try to Konmari anything sentimental until you’ve done the rest of your house first.

After re-Konmaring (it’s also a verb…), this is what our papers look like:


Above is our “Keep forever” category. It is mostly sentimental items and our tax papers, along with the deeds to the house/car and birth certificates/social security cards. Each folder only has a few items in them. Honestly, it could be much smaller if I scanned our tax stuff, but I don’t have a scanner and it would be too much of a hassle to scan it at work.

Below are our “Keep for a while” and “To do” boxes. “Keep for a while” has things like a receipt for something I might return, coupons I know I will use, gift certificates, our check books. Things I don’t need to act on right now, but don’t need to keep forever either. The “To Do” category has been the best for reducing our paper waste. Now when I get sent something I didn’t want–like monthly statements from a charity we support or junk mail–I put it in that box and try to deal with it within the week.

My friend Hannah had the brilliant idea of doing a Konmari home tour series last spring and several of us invited women we knew to tour our homes and see how we have implemented the Konmari method. We weren’t selling anything, just sharing something that has greatly improved the quality of our lives.  It was a great success, so there might be more in the future 🙂 If you live in Chattanooga and something like that sounds interesting to you, send me a message with your email and I can let you know about it in the future!

Ok, now back to thinking about how the world is going to end with our great-grandchildren sweltering in the heat with no shade or clean air and asking why we cut down all the trees to fill up the landfills. 🙂

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