A post worth reviewing. Via March 9, 2009.
The Ventilator Test
As I’ve started to post old exfoliations like the Throw Out Fifty Things Challenge, I’ve gotten a few emails about what I do with the stuff that I’m perpetually exfoliating. So today I’d like to talk about my frank and honest views on trashing, treasuring, and passing on exfoliations.
First, I will say that last year after the Throw Out Fifty Things Challenge, I did a big Free Garage Sale on MML. It was a huge success and most of my things found new homes across the country.
But what about you and your stuff? What should you do with it all?
As you look around your home for things to exfoliate, you might find that there are some things you don’t need, but have no idea what to do with. In my experience, there are three general exfoliation categories: trash, recycle, and pass it on. Recycling is a pretty straightforward group. If it is plastic, glass, or furniture, chances are it can have a new life. “Pass it on” stuff is still in working order and useful- it’s just not working or useful for you personally. These items can be given to friends, donated, or sold at consignment stores. Clothing is the most popular item in this group.
But what about the trash? This is where I find the most difficulty when working with people who are making under. The idea that something might be end up in a landfill is sometimes enough to scare someone into keeping it for months or years longer than necessary. We are good people looking to make a positive impact on the planet, and imagining that our past purchases might one day end up in a landfill is downright depressing. But the harsh reality is that even if something enjoys years of future pleasure with new owners, eventually everything that is not recyclable has an expiration date… and will one day end up in the trash.
So here is a little test I like to use when I find I have resistance to getting rid of something in this “trash” category: If I was suddenly killed, moved to Timbuktu, or put into the Witness Protection Program at a moment’s notice; what would my family do with my stuff? Would they donate it to a charity? Send it to the recycling center? Sell it on Ebay? Or put it in the dumpster? If the answer is the latter, it’s safe to say that if you don’t throw away that really old prom shoe, someone else will.
If something can serve no purpose for you or someone else, it doesn’t deserve to sit in purgatory at the bottom of your hall closet. Pull the plug. Give it a proper funeral. Say a few kind words (you can even take a picture). And let it go.
You might feel a lot better once you come to terms with the death of that thing. And you won’t feel guilty every time you struggle to close that closet door.