Green Living

Simplifying Life and the Joys of Upcycling

My newly retired parents have found a project to devote their newfound time to: sifting through the 30+ years of ‘stuff’ that has accumulated in the house we grew up in.

There’s the 3′ tall paper mâché sunflower I made in 8th grade, a set of encyclopedias circa 1982, my brother’s old surf board and many other things that remind us of the fun times we had as a family.

Make no mistake, it’s a big job to sort through all of that, but the bigger task will be to actually part ways with some of it.

For my parents, doing this is somewhat cathartic as they transition into a new chapter in their life. But the idea of simplifying, surrounding oneself with only beloved essentials, is really appealing to me too. Ron and Lisa Beres talk about how “…clutter represents much more than the physical, tangible stuff that fills our drawers, lines our cabinets, stuffs our garages and suffocates our closets” in their post entitled The True Cost of Clutter, and I couldn’t agree more. They offer a terrific quote that sums up the larger, intangible problem with clutter:

Clutter means anything that stands between you and the vision you have for your best life—it’s so much more than just the stuff.

— Peter Walsh, Lighten Up

The other benefit of course is the upcycling that happens when these dusty things go on to find a home where they will be appreciated once again, and used to create someone else’s happy memories. Cate Linden wrote a nice post about this last month.

And there are certainly tons of wonderful groups that are happy to take anything you don’t need and put them to good use. Miss Minimalist provides a great list of 101 such organizations, organized by the type of good.  (Of course, finding a local home is the best plan for the environment and overall simplicity.)

Incidentally, this desire to avoid cultivating a garage full of ‘stuff’ is exactly why some parents subscribe to Green Kid Crafts! They love that our Discovery Boxes come with just enough supplies for the crafts with minimal excess that needs to be saved in a junk drawer or recycled.

Have you taken inventory at your home recently? Did you find any surprises? Let us know in the comments, and wish us luck with our clean outs!

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