Living Green: Reduce and Reuse

We’ve been trying to make some lifestyle changes around our house, starting with giving things away that we don’t use effectively. This photo is not our house, but I was embarrassed to take a photo of my garage.

One of our plans is to pass down family heirlooms to the next generation, which is what we did with Gram’s Hoosier. My next objective in that goal is to take digital photos of all of the heirloom china and knickknacks that I’m ready to pass on and send an email out to the families for them to choose from the antiques and photos. I hope people actually want the stuff.

I heard a story this weekend about a grandmother who was told that “nobody wanted her old junk” so she put it out on the curb. When my friend drove past grandma’s house, there were family heirlooms awaiting the garbage man or the pickers. Needless to say, that “junk” now has an honored home in my friend’s house.

The house next door to me has been vacant for two years since my dear neighbor passed away unexpectedly, and even after several estate and garage sales, there are still family photos and her treasured Ukrainian knickknacks in what is essentially an abandoned house. She must be turning over in her grave.

I don’t want to be the person whose heart is broken watching her stuff get thrown out, so I’m taking care of it myself now. I’m going through items piece by piece and deciding what can be passed on to family, what can be donated, and what can be sold. If nobody in the family wants your stuff, here are some green options instead of putting more of our cast-offs in landfills.

  1. There is an international organization called the Freecycle Network where you can donate and request items for free. What a great way to share your treasures with someone who actually wants them!
  2. You can sell items on ebay.com. We have a local ebay seller who does all the work for you and you get back about 50% of any sales he makes. You could do it yourself if you have time, but for me, this is the best way. My local ebay guy says that items with trademarks, patent numbers, or recognizable brands sell better than random unmarked items. Obviously, people are wary of counterfeits, so having the best photos possible is the key to success. Remember, one grandma’s trash is another person’s treasure.
  3. Musical instruments that are still playable can be donated to local music organizations. They use them as starter instruments for kids who can’t afford their own instruments. I’m donating my old violins to the Music Institute of Chicago. They need some repair, but could easily be reconditioned by qualified musical instrument repairers.
  4. The obvious and easiest solution is to load it all up in the car and tote it down to Goodwill or call up any of those local donation places and they’ll even come and pick it up.

Here’s another set of thoughts on STUFF, courtesy of Complete Organizing Solutions. Enjoy reading more viewpoints and eliminate the stuff that’s dragging you down. Share your story if you want to… we’re listening and looking for advice.

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7 responses

  1. Hey sis:

    We found out with our old fridge and stove we were trying to get rid of (and donation center would not accept because of age) that if we put them on Craig’s list for free we had plenty of takers…

    1. My neighbor said the same thing. They got rid of a lot of stuff through Craig’s List. The only problem with that is that you have to wait around for the people to come and look at your stuff.

  2. Hi, I also look to give old furniture and goods to local charitiable organisations here in Northern Ireland. They have been able to take my old stuff, restore if required and pass on to others who cannot afford it. It makes you feel less of a mad consumer if you do this.

    My son also lives in London and there are similar free lists that he and his girlfriend have used to get and give items. So, let’s applaud all those who do this……

    1. Can I just say that you are my first non – U.S. commenter? Thank you for responding.

      In my love affair with all things U.K., I always assumed that “you guys” were better at common sense consumerism than we Americans are. I mean, your fancy manor houses are all full of priceless family antiques, right? And then there’s the cute village jumble sales. See, I’ve read my U.K. novels…

      All kidding and stereotyping aside, it’s wonderful that you and your family are recycling. Thanks for checking in.

  3. Naturally Difficult | Reply

    In our home, we take a minimalist approach. Fort he most part, if it doesn’t get toucvhed in three months, the item has a new home at the local goodwill. My mother-in-law does not believe in this approach and feels the need to fill my basement with the items she doesn’t have the heart to discard herself.

    I have never used Craig’s List but I am very interested in seeing how quickly some good stuff can be picked up by interested people .

    1. You sound like my kids. I keep trying to give them things and they keep saying no.

      I have another golden oak curved glass china cabinet that I’m actually going to try to sell on Craig’s List. I’ll let you know how that goes.

      1. I believe the exact phrase was “not yet,” mom. Would love to have some of those great old pieces. Just need to buy the house to put them in first.

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