Britons admit half of their items do not 'spark joy'

Victoria WalderseeData Journalist
June 07, 2019, 12:03 PM GMT+0

Tidying expert Marie Kondo advocates that we get rid of any possessions which don’t “spark joy” - but research shows that Britons would be getting rid of half of our clothes and a third of our books

Marie Kondo has taken the world by storm with her KonMari method of organising your life and freeing yourself of unnecessary belongings. It centres around only keeping things which make you feel happy, or “spark joy” when you hold them.

In a RealTime survey for the ‘Britain Is A Nation Of’ podcast, YouGov asked Britons what proportion of their items they would get rid of if they really asked themselves what did and didn’t spark joy.


YouGov’s survey followed the categories of belongings set out in the KonMari method: clothes, books, papers, mementos, and miscellaneous items.

Half (47%) of Britons say they'd get rid of at least half of their clothing, with only a marginal difference between men and women. One in five (22%) would get rid of more than half.

One in eight (12%) would keep every item of clothing they own.


Kondo says she only keeps thirty books in her house at any one time – though she emphasises this figure is personal, and you may keep however many spark joy for you.

So how many books would Britons keep, if told to throw out any that did not spark joy?

YouGov's survey did not ask in absolute numbers, but instead in proportions of total belongings.

A third of Britons (35%) would remove at least half of their books – rising to half (47%) of 18 to 24 year olds.

But among over 55s, two thirds (61%) would get rid of less than half or none at all.

Still, one in twenty Britons (6%) would get rid of every single book, with men twice as likely as women to say so (8% vs 4%).

Miscellaneous items

Marie's broadest category is “miscellaneous items”: incorporating anything from CDs to valuables and functional household equipment.

Half (47%) of Britons would chuck out at least half of their belongings in this category. A fifth (21%) would chuck out more than half. But one in seven (13%) claim all their miscellaneous items spark joy.


Papers – defined as letters, magazines, and administrative materials – are the household item least likely to spark joy. A full 68% would get rid of at least half of their papers. Just one in eleven (9%) say they've got no papers lying around which they'd get rid of.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, mementos are the item Britons are most likely to say sparks joy for them, with half (51%) saying they wouldn't get rid of any.

Still, four in ten Britons (42%) say they would say goodbye to at least some of their mementos (items with sentimental values, like photos, souvenirs, etc.).

Photo: Getty

See full results here