My husband and I are selling our house where we have spent 28 happy, important years. We raised our family here, expanding and changing the house as our family grew. Now that the kids have gone, it’s time for another loving family. We will move to a smaller place where we can lessen our carbon footprint.
I am sorting through years and years of accumulated “stuff”, making piles for giveaway, piles for recycling, piles for storage, piles for the kids. Vietnam Veterans, Big Brother/Big Sister, the Epilepsy Foundation and other service organizations gladly come to your home for unwanted items still in good shape or you can drop them off in their donation bins. Freecycle.org is another way to get rid of things. Our town dump recycles electronics, appliances, books, metal, and clothes. They also have a “dumptique” where you can dispose of discarded items – you barely get out of the car before someone grabs something!
I curse all the technology around the house that is obsolete almost immediately and comes with way too much packaging and the ubiquitous wires, plugs, and chargers that go with only one device. I can’t believe all the CDs that no one listens to and cameras that no one uses now that we all have smart phones. It’s shocking how quickly video games, players, and VHS tapes are outdated. They can be donated thankfully, to thrift stores and freecycle.org.
Then, there are those things that can’t be donated or recycled and that I just can’t throw into the landfill, like dried-up make-up, partly used personal care products, old partially used paint cans, spent markers and pens, half-burned petroleum-based candles, the countless samples doctors give out that definitely shouldn’t end up in the water table – the list goes on and on. These items pose a real challenge. GreenAmerica.org posted a list of where to recycle all sorts of unusual plastics like old yoga mats, Brita pitcher filters, and technotrash, and there are websites that offer ideas for reusing and crafting items like torn blue jeans. Unfortunately however, some items have to be thrown away.
It’s a lot of work to dispose of things properly, but it feels good, it’s cathartic. I keep coming back to the thought however, that we all have way too much stuff! Recycle, yes, reuse yes, but let’s reduce too! Now, in my next phase the key is not to re-accumulate! Who needs anything anyway?
If you aren’t familiar with Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff”, it’s really worth watching this clever 20-minute animated documentary about the lifecycle of material goods. Click here to visit her website.