It's time for spring cleaning! With trends like minimalism and the Marie Kondo method, this year's cleaning is sure to include some serious de-cluttering. Since the release of her Netflix series 'Tidying Up with Marie Kondo', donations at thrift stores like Goodwill have soared. People are wanting to break free of the financial, mental and environmental burden of acquiring stuff. I'd like to focus today on how you can use tidying up to improve your physical health too!
For those who haven't binge-watched her show, here is the gist of Kondo's de-cluttering system. First, she makes people take ALL their stuff out of cupboards and closets, and into one place, to see the scale of how much they have (spoiler - it's always way more than they realized). Then they go through each individual item and decide if it sparks joy (keep) or if it does not (donate or toss).
Most kitchen items are purely functional and don't need to 'spark joy' per se. However they can still become unused and unloved until they are simply in the way. Clutter interferes with focus, motivation, and the productive use of space.
Motivating yourself to be healthy is hard enough already! Try these steps to energize yourself and optimize the use of your kitchen.
Step 1: Take Everything Out of Storage
Empty every drawer and cupboard, including cookware, dishes, cleaning products, and dry foods. Don't forget 'junk drawers' in your kitchen full of receipts, elastic bands, batteries that may-or-may-not be dead, etc. Leave no stone unturned!
You can do the kitchen in sections, just make sure you are gathering all similar items at once to see if you have unnecessary duplicates (e.g. gather all your utensils at once).
Step 2: Purge
Recycle, compost, throw away:
Tupperware with no lid and vice versa
Expired and questionable foods
Unused dishes, cutlery, glassware, small appliances, you get the idea!
Unnecessary duplicates. I had THREE cheese graters. WHY!?
Perishable foods that do not match your health goals
Did you impulse buy a 12-pack of Mac&Cheese when it was on sale? If your goal is to cut back on processed food, do yourself a favour and give it away. You'll save yourself a ton of willpower (and pantry space).
Step 3: Give Everything a Home
Place everything away from the counter. Counter space is your friend when it comes to cooking and big meal preps. It also makes your kitchen a more spacious, uncluttered, enjoyable place to be. If you dread navigating your kitchen, how likely are you to cook at home vs. order takeout?
If you do have highly processed snacks in the house keep them behind closed cupboard doors. A study found that those with fruit on their counter had lower BMIs than those who did not. Participants with processed foods like candy or dried fruit weighed on average 20-30lbs more than those who did not. Another study found obese individuals had food stored in a larger number of visible areas than non-obese subjects.
*This was obviously not the only factor impacting weight, and weight does not always reflect health status or eating behaviours, but it gives us general insight into the food environment of each group.
Some more obvious tips include:
Store similar items together
Assign everything ONE spot it always goes, so you can always find it
Put frequently used items in easy to reach spaces
Step 4: Add Missing Essentials to Your New Space
Once your space is in order, consider investing in some organizers to keep it that way.
Have a meal planner and grocery list on your fridge or a bulletin board in the kitchen
Restock your pantry with whatever staples are missing
Try lid racks, shelf extenders, or tension rods & hooks to hang light items and make the most of your space
Boxes & baskets! These are Marie Kondo's secret weapon. Use them to keep like with like for a tidy kitchen.
Step 5: Maintain
Once you have an organized kitchen with a home for every item, it is easy to upkeep if you do it frequently enough. Remind yourself to go through the kitchen on a regular basis, depending how quickly things tend to slide. Every time you buy a new item, try to get rid of another.
A final note. The goal of Marie's process is NOT to live with as little as possible, but to live with only things that have purpose to you. That can be physical or emotional. Don't feel the need to get rid of things that make you happy, just because you can technically live without them. De-cluttering is mainly about improving mental health. The physical benefits simply follow.