Noa Ní Aoláin Gross
Googling “minimalism about things we own” generates a list of websites, the first result ironically boasting, “things a minimalist must own.” Human nature exacerbated by capitalist culture fuels the constant collection and accumulation of more: more money, more trinkets, more clothes, simply more. Finding oneself in the privileged position of excess begs for the reevaluation of the space we (and our items) occupy.
Life is cluttered. Though we can’t always choose what weighs down the calendar, it’s possible to make the conscious choice to declutter the spaces we inhabit. From clothing to toys, our spaces are filled with long forgotten items others can use.
Mindful purchasing is one way to prevent a never-ending cycle of accumulation. From creating shopping lists or practicing gratitude for the items we already own, there are a number of ways to stop the problem from expanding.
But how do you deal with the problem that already exists? Forgotten toys and long-outgrown clothes are shoved in a dusty corner, long-forgotten box, or in a trash bag on the way to clog up a landfill. With winter cold setting in, and the holidays around the corner, does our usable excess have to go to waste?
The simple answer: no. Minimalist websites swear by the 80/20 rule, meaning that typically 80% of the time only 20% of our items are used. If people go through their items and pick out 10-20% they no longer use, those items could get an extended life in the hands or homes of people who can use them.
The process of donating is beneficial in so many ways. It helps people in need at no extra cost or expense, declutters space, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by reducing production and stopping growth of landfills. There’s no question: donating is a win-win-win scenario.
Options for donation are endless. Within the SPA community, the Junior Class Leadership Council and Community Action and Service hosted an early December food drive. Toys for Tots is always available for donations with drop off sites across the state. Goodwill is an accessible option for those looking to donate a broader range of items throughout the year. The list is in no way limited to these options, thousands of charities and organizations work to connect those in need with items we no longer need. When donating, remember to be mindful of what could most benefit the community and the people the organization serves. Donate the items which will have the greatest impact in supporting community members in creating safe, healthy spaces for themselves and their families.
As we move into Winter Break, reevaluate the space ourselves and our items hold. Ask: how can I make space for others by eliminating my own excess? Then, don’t stop by only boxing and bagging items for storage or trash; let someone else add them to their space.
This editorial was originally published in the December print issue of The Rubicon.