The Life-Changing Magic of Barilla Pasta Boxes?



Today is Global Recycling Day.

And I’m not going to make a joke about recycling old columns, because human-caused climate change is serious business and getting more urgent by the minute.

We need to rethink what we’re doing with our everyday items to create a more sustainable planet for ourselves and generations to come. Recycling is one of the most familiar ways to do this.

What does seem like found comedy, however, is connecting the global Zen master of “tidying,” Marie Kondo, to Barilla Pasta to show us new ways to recycle old pasta boxes. It sounds like something dreamed up by Martha Stewart on too much weed.

In this case, the content of the boxes—say spaghetti, penne, rigatoni-- does spark joy. But the idea of intensely origami-folding no-longer-loved-clothing into mini-cartons and shipping it off in the mail?  More separates than go-togethers.



Still, Bruno Bertilli, global CEO of LePub Italy and CCO of Publicis Worldwide, maintains that the project is “a perfect match….to demonstrate that minimizing waste can be creative, effortless yet impactful.”  He adds that the paper and cardboard is already designed for recycling and sourced from “responsibly managed forests.”

A traditional message about changes in packaging might not animate the internet, but Marie Kondo and her brand, KonMari, certainly have.  In 2010 she published “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” which became an immediate best seller. CNN called it “one of the most influential books of the decade.”  It also became the basis of the Netflix hit “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” and her business empire.

But her exacting methods have also sparked backlash and many parodies.  Some of what she says is quasi-comical, as in “folding is an important opportunity to talk to your clothes and thank them.” Still, I get that we’re careless with our stuff, already have too much, and need to show  it more respect.

Kondo's method is famously based on keeping only the things that spark joy, which  is a loose translation of the Japanese word  tokimeku, literally “to flutter,” “to throb,” or “to palpitate.”

It also means “all of your cells are rising!” Her translator went for a bit of inspired poetry in coining the term “spark joy.”

In the parody by the TV program “Family Guy,” homemaker Lois really takes the concept to heart and throws everything in her house out, including her husband and children.

These days, even Kondo herself has lightened up after the birth of her third child in 2021. She even admitted that her house is sometimes “messy.”

The Barilla video that will appear online and in social media is titled “Secondhand Box,” which has a certain ring, like the song “Secondhand Rose.” 

The 90-second production is very calming and meditative, stripped down to its essence. Kondo speaks in English and shows us every step in her folding process as she transforms socks, a top, and pants into perfect miniatures to fit into three sizes of the signature blue pasta boxes. She says she is sending them to a “secondhand platform.”

Adding a list of such places to send recycled clothing to in the U.S. on the website would be the chef’s kiss on a project that turns out to be oddly charming and works for both brands.

The combo does inspire the imagination, though. How fun would it be to receive a pair of penne pants and linguine socks in those recyclable boxes?

1 comment about "The Life-Changing Magic of Barilla Pasta Boxes?".
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  1. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, March 19, 2024 at 11:34 a.m.

    Ok.  You got me.  I clicked.

    It's a pretty cringe-video and not surprising that comments are not allowed anywhere Barilla paid to have it posted, other than Kondo's own page.  Lots of head scratching.

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