Toiletries are next in my KonMari tidying up, along with makeup. Want to see inside my bathroom cupboards before I started?
Mostly it just makes me laugh. It’s not disorganised, really, because there’s a place for everything. But the way things are standing makes me feel like I’ve opened the door to the wrong room and interrupted a meeting, and everyone has turned to look at me. And the cabinet interiors look like the walls of a half-finished building. But it got worse when I took everything out and set it on the counter…
And, per the method, I went around the house and gathered other toiletries: from the other bathroom, and from my handbag and nightstand drawer.
It wasn’t hard to go through. We had quite a few things that were expired, like sun screens, and some of my skincare oils. I had a couple of body sprays that smelled funky, too.
In the past, I kept those expired things – particularly the practical things like sun screen – because although I knew they were expired, I reckoned that having something was better than nothing at all. I.e. it’s probably better to use an expired sunblock than to get sunburned. But I also didn’t replace it (which arguably I should have) because in fact we seldom use it, since we mainly just try to avoid being outside in the sun for long periods. This time around, I realised that despite needing sunblock on hand in a sunny place, having it there stressed me out (i.e. no joy) because it prompted infinite-loop debates with myself: this is expired…but we need to have it…but I should replace it…but we seldom use it and it’s expensive…but if we were to use it…it would be expired… And so on, the same internal debate in circles. This is interesting to me about this method. Other declutter methods tell you to get rid of expired stuff, but I obviously didn’t listen. It was only when I realised that I myself did not want to keep it that I actually discarded it.
Immediately after that, I pulled out all my makeup, which was kinda fun.
A lot of expired things here, too. They were expired before now, so why did I still have them? I realised that I feel a lot of guilt throwing out toiletries and cosmetics if they aren’t used up. I also had quite a few things I liked but seldom wore, or were now well past their expiry, but which I’d previously kept because I reckoned that I really liked them. Here’s where I realised that ‘liking’ is not joy.
I had, for example, a dark red lipstick that I wore at its full force just once – when we went out one night in Paris. I felt stunning in it, actually, but the colour was so bold I was nervous to wear it anywhere among people I knew! For that one evening in Paris I really enjoyed trying something new and different. So I kept the lipstick. However, although the memory of wearing it makes me happy, having the lipstick itself didn’t give me joy because I felt a little guilty for not making better use of it, or would occasionally put it on only to wipe it off regretfully. Here is where investigating my feelings of joy for certain items has given me a clarity about them that I never had before.
Here’s my pared-down makeup. The bag contains most of it, with a couple of special items in the little box, which I occasionally pull out for dressing-up occasions.
And here’s a before and after shot of the bathroom cupboards. First, the before:
Now, I actually do not love the final result. The rickety plastic drawers (very old from somewhere else) help confine things and make better use of the space, but inherently themselves they are an anti-joy item for me. And the rest of the stuff still looks kind of cluttered. HOWEVER: this is only provisional organisation and I’ll revisit it once the decluttering phase is over. It also works just fine and gives us access to what we use, while being relatively neat. I do feel that, once you declutter and have only the right items for you, and if you place them neatly, any space looks okay. Not like Pinterest, perhaps, but it will look cared-for and function well. I’ve been thinking that this is my primary goal with my storage spaces; I want them to look responsibly cared-for.
As a final step I had to dispose of my discarded items. This part often takes as long as deciding what to discard. A lot just went in the trash, but some containers were recyclable if only I could empty them first. And here’s a dilemma for me.
Taking a lipstick I loved and prying it out with a pin, only to be reminded how much was still left to use (but it was very old and the texture was funny) really makes discarding it more difficult. It should in theory feel better – I’m recycling! But it involves doing a kind of violence to something I loved, and that feels like dishonouring it. The Konmari method, in contrast to a lot of other declutter programs, emphasises appreciating and respecting even the things you discard, and this is what makes it appeal so much to me and has enabled me to part with many more things than otherwise. So wrenching things apart before bidding them farewell feels wrong.
I wouldn’t judge you if you felt the same and opted to throw everything away, rather than dismantle it for recycling purposes.
However, I dutifully pried things out of their containers and cleaned the containers to recycle.
Next on the list is a little category, valuables: so things like credit cards, money, and passports.