The Burden of Waste

The big thing I learned on this last move was how much waste is involved with just living, especially when you stay in one place for an extended period of time because regardless of your best intentions for living simply, you discover how much you can actually accumulate and what you truly need.

The Sis and I have been long time renters. It offers us the freedom to leave at will and explore new places. We have moved a lot in our 15 years together, and each time we’ve donated, sold, or (unfortunately) tossed quite a few things, and I always find myself surprised by how much remains…but this last move had me really looking at the whole situation differently, which is why I was compelled to write this post, to share the lesson we learned.

When the pandemic was in full swing and we were all locked down, people started to “spring clean” and empty out their closets. We had already done the same because a year ago last December we were considering our next move. This is when a lot of people realized they had a lot they didn’t quite need.

What I realized was I was just scratching the surface.

For the last couple of years I’ve limited Christmas and birthday shopping because “we don’t need all that frivolous stuff”, and with the ups and downs we’ve experienced with work and finances, I’m always a bit wary of spending too much money but it also, initially, boiled down to this – I know we’re going to move again, at some point because it’s what we do, and I don’t want to have more things to move.

But it boiled down even further as I continued to think on it – about what we leave behind – our footprint.

Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

We were initially looking at moving overseas, and the cost associated, so we had to consider either selling things, storing things, or moving them, and that changed our perspective on what we considered to be of value and how we spent our money in the future to accumulate more stuff.

Some of you may have seen that I started an Etsy shop to sell all the vintage collectibles we had either been gifted or inherited. We gave a few items to friends as gifts. We donated multiple boxes of books, movies, and music to the library. I sold some geeky items to a resale shop. I used an app to sell other random household items. A number of things still found themselves in the garbage. And our moving truck, which was advertised as one size but was truly another, left us with not enough room to take all of our belongings, and so a few things found themselves left on the curb.

As I considered all of this, I realized how much money and time was invested in obtaining those items and how much we were losing in the end, let alone the consequences of where some of those items would find themselves.

Even living in our last place for as long as we had, we didn’t bring in everything that was boxed in the garage, again, because we knew we’d be moving soon so why…and that made me reconsider what was truly of value to me as well. If something could spend upwards of 10 years in a box, why was I holding on to it? It served no purpose except to add to the burden of moving it.

This is how we approached everything in the end. For weeks we looked at the things in our house and not only asked if it “brought us joy” but also what purpose it served if we never saw it but continued to place some sentimental value on it. We got rid of a lot, some items better than others, and there is still more to go. We did move things we shouldn’t have – so. many. books. that I thought I needed – but it’s all a learning curve.

Then there’s the continued development of new technologies which is making so many things obsolete, like cds, dvds, and books. I won’t give up holding a book despite how many I’m trying to get rid of, but I am going to utilize the library a lot more, like I used to. My car still has a CD player, and I have movies that I can’t find on streaming services, but I’ll reconsider all those types of purchases moving forward.

Moving into a much smaller space has been eye opening as well, and that will help, I think, in determining further what is truly of use to us.

There are a number of resources to utilize if you’re looking to downsize – Facebook groups, community exchanges, and all the above mentioned in order to find your items in a new home versus a landfill. So that’s what I took away from our last relocation. And it was Earth Day ten days ago, and we all have to do our part. So if you have any resources or tips to share to help lessen this burden, please comment below. And good luck!

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