Toss, Keep, or Give AwayJune 7, 2013
You know how some people say that for every one thing that enters their house some other thing leaves? I’m not one of those people. You know how some people say a place for everything and everything in its place? I’m not one of those people either. But it is becoming abundantly clear to me that we have too much stuff.
The reason I’m in this predicament is because I’m so darn eco-conscious. I am loath to add to the landfills. I feel bad about our single trashcan of non-recyclables, non-compostables that gets put out each week – and I’m wracked with guilt when we have extra things – like the four broken and totally unsalvageable lawn chairs we put out this past week. Somehow, in the broken logic of my brain I think it makes more sense for four broken lawn chairs to be piled behind my garage than put in the landfill.
But wait, couldn’t I do something clever and somehow recycle those chairs or chair parts? In short. No. I am not that clever, talented, nor skilled. I would love to be able to create art from cast-offs. But it hasn’t happened in the last 50+ years of my life and I just don’t think it is realistic that I’m suddenly going to become a cast-off artist. I also have a feeling that a move in that direction would lead to more questionable items in my trust rather that fewer. Now if I knew an artist who wanted broken lawn chairs…
Of course there are a goodly number of things in my possession that can go on to Goodwill (or substitute the name of your favorite donation-accepting charity). For instance, I have a laundry basket of clothes that need to be evaluated by the daughter for just that purpose. Unfortunately, the cat thinks the laundry basket of cast-offs is a very comfy place to sleep. So now, not only do I need to sort those into keepers, tossers, and give-aways – I have to rewash the whole kit and kaboodle.
I’ve noticed that over time some items change their position in the keeper, tosser, give-away categories. My garage attic has a number of items from my children’s infancies – a crib, toys, and car seats for instance. Well, there is no point in keeping the car seats nor the crib, they do not meet the present safety standards (I don’t know how my children survived.) And the toys, given they are now covered with over a decade’s worth of dirt, I don’t think anyone would believe they could be made clean enough for an infant ever again. Still, it is hard to jump the breach from Goodwill to landfill. I may let Goodwill make the decision, after I hose them off.
To complicate matters psychologically, I am part of a theatre company and every non-tossable now looks like a potential prop. The crib, for instance, might we not do a play someday that requires a crib? I can’t let my mind go that route. I need to assure myself that someone else will always have a crib we can borrow, that I do not, single-handedly, need to save every possible potential prop. Besides, isn’t it better to give some money to Goodwill when we need a crib than to hoard one in my attic?
Of course the theatre company has acquired a number of props already (many from Goodwill, in fact). Luckily another board member has taken on the task of storing them. If they were in my garage that area would just keep growing as I transferred more and more items to the prop pile.
Yes, I’m feeling an increasing urge to purge. But where to start? The top of the house? The garage? The basement? I’m beginning to understand why this large-scale purging of stuff hasn’t happened before (except when we moved, and even then a remarkable amount just got packed and moved with us). I suspect I will need to be a role model for others in the household, so first purging-place will have to be my room – or more specifically – my half of the room – which won’t be nearly as satisfying as an entire room…maybe I’ll just go take a bath.