A dozen years ago, when Michael and I were preparing to leave California for our move to Tennessee, we were faced with getting rid of an old cooler that had a crack in it and would no longer keep things cold. I remember having a conversation about how we should be responsible for the things that we buy and bring into our homes and lives. For some reason, that conversation has really stuck with me and I recall it, whether I want to or not, from time to time. Like now. We’re sorting through stuff as we prepare for our next move at the end of this month. There are boards and nails, paints and pots, that are pretty easy to rehome or to repurpose in some way. But there’s also a gas grill and table saw that no longer work. Luckily, my neighbor recycles metal to earn extra income, so by passing those things on to him they will be stripped and taken to the metal recyclers to be melted down, which will earn him a few dollars in the process, and ease my guilty conscience. The recycling center in Gray has a ‘paint room’ where they store leftover buckets of paint that folks can pick through for free. I’ve gotten several gallons of paints, stains and primers from there for projects in our home, and now I’ll donate my extras back to them. But I’m concerned about the stuff that I inevitably won’t be able to recycle, repurpose or rehome.
As I recall, Michael and I made a sort of pact that day, that basically acknowledged, ‘There is no away, as in , “throw it away”.’ Trying to live by that agreement has sometimes ‘encouraged’ me to keep things longer than I would’ve or should’ve. And now that we’re moving into a home with very little storage space, it’s time to face the reality of all the stuff we’ve somehow accumulated while living here. I still believe in the premise that we should be responsible consumers, buying only what we need and then taking care of our possessions as best we can so that they will hopefully last a lifetime. Over the years though, I’ve tried more and more often to obtain the things we want or need through barter, yard sales, second-hand stores, Freecycling and Craig’s List. My thinking was that if I obtain something used, it’s eventual demise didn’t fall under the prenup agreement. That doesn’t mean that I greedily snap up any and everything as long as it was preowned, but it did relieve me of the guilt of forsaking my vows.
However, as I sort through a decade of accumulations, I realize, too late, that I’m still responsible for things, even if they ARE used when I get them. It’s become an innate part of me, this idea of responsibility for my stuff. I’d rather like to be irresponsible and care free about my inanimate objects but I really.do.care. about the earth, I’m concerned about her dwindling resources and, the economic injustices of the world, and above all, my desire to live simply. Stuff weighs me down. So, I’m going on a diet. I’m adding one more R to the four R’s…
I’m telling folks that the bad news is, our new house has only one closet, with no garage, attic or basement. The good news is that our new house has only one closet, with no garage, attic or basement.
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