My wise teacher and friend, The Dharma Frog who comes for my life lesson every Wednesday morning, is hardly ever late and he's never late when I could really use the extra time. Like today. But he arrived right on schedule, as usual, and as he looked around my pad, his eyes went immediately to a large pile of stuff on the floor just outside of a small closet. "What's all this, my young friend?" Dharma asked. "Well, Sir, I was doing my fall cleaning yesterday and got very tired before I could finish cleaning out that closet. I left the mess and had intended to get up early and finish it before you arrived. Needless-to-say, Sir, that didn't happen," I replied, feeling a bit embarrassed. Dharma didn't respond right away...I could see the little wheels turning in his head. Finally, he said, "What will you do with all your old items, Irwin?" "I had planned to find a way to get everything back into the closet, only neater." "Have you thought about recycling or repurposing some of these things? You know, Tadpole, one frog's junk is another frog's treasure." And before I knew what hit me, Dharma had started on my lesson for the week.
We sat down to our breakfast and I poured the tea. Dharma spoke about the need to unload some of my treasures. "Purging ourselves of unwanted, old, or unnecessary items is a great way to simplify our lives. Stuff, my young friend, can consume time, energy, and resources...especially money. Our treasures all need to be organized, stored and kept in a safe place. This not only requires a great deal of time and energy, but also increases our 'flipperprint' on the world. Our belongings, no matter how much we treasure them, can often have a negative impact on us. We mistakenly believe that we'll need that 'doo-dad' at some point, even though it's been over a year since we used it last. Often, we tell ourselves that we simply just don't have the time to clean out the storage area. Other times we, and humans do this to excess, actually rent outside storage units to put all our stuff in. We pay monthly rent on the unit and, more often than not, forget what's even in it...all while paying the rent. More times than not, the monthly rent, at the end of the year, winds up being more than the value of all of the stuff that's in it! And we certainly don't want to throw stuff in the landfill, so what do we do?"
The answer was pretty simple, donate all the usable item. Dharma laid out a few suggestions for places to unload all those unwanted and unnecessary items. Some you may have thought of; others you may not have. Each of these places will put your items to good use helping others and will keep your items out of public landfills. You win and so does the environment.
1. Clothing and household items can be donated, of course, to charity shops. But many other nonprofits want these items, too. Some diabetes and kidney organizations will take household items. Profits from the sale of these items go toward life-saving research on cures for this diseases. Too, there are resale stores where your better quality clothing can actually net you a little extra cash. These stores are a great place to rid yourself of outgrown but still wearable children's clothing, including school uniforms, dance costumes, winter outerwear, as well as toys and books. Dress For Success takes good workwear and gives it to those who are entering the workforce and may not have the funds for professional clothing. And don't forget about women's shelters. These wonderful organizations help women and their children who have escaped abusive relationships and need to start a new life. They often leave with just the clothes on their backs. Starting over for them means literally starting from scratch. Local churches, too, often will take certain items like winter outerwear and they distribute it to the needy within their communities.
2. Sporting goods. It's pretty easy to find a home for this stuff. Local schools can use the equipment as well as some churches who have sports teams. Sporting goods resale shops abound. And, again, don't forget the shelters; both women's and homeless shelters can use your equipment to help others, Local sporting associations would also be a great place to donate your used equipment.
3. Electronics. Every place is different, of course, but most communities have old electronic equipment collection days. These collections help to keep electronics and computers out of landfills. Some nonprofits will take these items and refurbish them either to sell inexpensively or to donate to those in need.
4. Old cell phones. The best thing to do with these is to donate them to shelters. Women's shelters give them to their clients for making emergency calls. 911 always works even when there isn't any real service on the phone. And for those folks who are homeless and can afford even minimal service, these phones can help them find jobs and keep track of their children.
5. Furniture and building supplies. Like clothing and household items, these things can find new homes in many places. Habitat for Humanity reStore is one of the best places to take these items. Goodwill and Salvation Army, for those of you in the US, will take furniture and may even come to pick it up for you. Call and ask. Shelters often need furniture as do nonprofit organizations. Especially needed is office furniture.
And let's not forget our pet friends. Pet food dishes and water bowls, towels, newspapers, pet bedding, dog houses, etc can all be donated to your favorite no-kill animal shelter, These items will be put to good use. Often, shelters will take other used items, too. Many area pet shelters have semi-annual rummage sales to raise money for their worthy cause. The money then lets them help more animals and provide better medical care to the animals in their charge.
After Dharma left this morning, I began tackling my own pile of stuff. I can that some things I can repurpose and continue to use, while other items I will donate to a few of my favorite charities. The best part of donating your unwanted items is that they get a new life by providing joy, entertainment, and hope for others.
Please join me back here tomorrow. Until then,