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 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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