KonMari’s Guide for Mindful Discarding: Books and Paper Categories

Practicing mindful discarding when you let go of books that no longer spark joy or papers you don’t need anymore helps ease the environmental impact of producing both. The KonMari Method™ reminds us to regard our home with gentle gratitude, but this doesn’t just apply to the house. The Earth is our home too – by mindfully discarding books and paper items, we treat the home we all share with the care it deserves!

Books

Rehoming

Keep as many books as you’d like – as long as they spark joy! Before you donate, resell or recycle a book that no longer sparks joy, try to find a home for your books where people can read and enjoy them as much as you once did. 

Some communities have public miniature libraries to facilitate neighborhood book exchanges! Find one in your area or start one on your sidewalk to keep the joy going even after you decide to let go. You can also check if a library, school, hospital or youth center near you is accepting books. Sharing your book collection with a local organization opens it up to thousands of potential new owners!

Reselling

Reselling your books can guarantee that they go to a loving home. The buyers who purchase them are often seeking certain titles or genres and choosing the ones that definitely spark joy for them, even if they no longer spark joy for you. Some book resellers will buy back all of your books in bulk and some may have you ship your collection directly to them – both of which make sending them off far easier. Consider one of the resale platforms on our discarding resources page.

Donating

Donating your books can also ensure they go to a home where they’re wanted or needed, even if it takes a bit longer for them to reach their final destination. Some initiatives donate books to specific populations, including individuals who are incarcerated, who come from underserved areas, who are deployed overseas and more. If you choose a charitable book donation project that aligns with your values, you may find that your book collection sparks joy for you – and for others – in a brand new, poignant way. Most local thrift stores accept gently worn copies too – just call ahead to make sure! Find a destination for your books that sparks joy for you here.

Recycling

Are some of your books worse for wear? It happens – this just means they were well loved and read often! Find a specialty program that focuses on recycling old books or use these recycling tips to properly discard them at home.

  • Paperbacks: Recycle them whole – the recycled materials will find their new purpose later on!
  • Hardcovers: Remove the cover as it often includes non-paper materials that cannot be recycled. Hand the covers off to a specialty recycling program or dispose of them in your normal trash.
  • Important! Water-damaged books cannot be recycled. They will need to be thrown away – or repurpose them in an art project and learn the fine art of papier mache!

Once You’re Done

Joy is individual to each and every person. If you can picture yourself swapping your copies for an e-reader or a reader app on your phone, tablet or computer, then try switching over! You’ll save paper, space and maybe even money when you make the change to a virtual library.

For some readers, having a physical book in hand sparks joy – and that’s completely okay. Consider checking out physical copies from your local library, purchasing used or borrowing good reads from a friend. If you are introducing new titles into your home, make sure you have room to store them respectfully and choose only the ones that spark the most joy!

Paper

Recycling

Unlike items from other categories, paper can only be repurposed (papier mache and collages, anyone?) or recycled once you decide it’s no longer needed. This is why it is especially important to discard papers mindfully by learning how to properly recycle them. 

Knowing what you can and can’t put in your recycling bin is important. Do your research on recycling first using our discarding resources.

Once You’re Done

Once you’ve finished sorting the papers in your possession, making changes to how new paper is introduced into your home or your workplace won’t just be a win for your tidy space – it’ll be a win for Earth too. 

First, unsubscribe from any catalogues or magazines you no longer want to receive. You can easily request to be removed from paper mailing lists and sign up for email newsletters instead! Then, switch your bills, bank statements and other significant monthly mailers to paperless. Finally, opt to purchase items with virtual manuals or online setup wherever possible. When you need them, you’ll be glad to have instruction booklets just a simple search away. While it can be a tedious transition at first, going paperless will keep your space tidy in the long run – and help the planet each of us calls home.

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