This post started out as a Facebook post, and I have continued to think about the topic of downsizing since writing that post. So here is the original post with a lot of edits, additions, and links.
This whole downsizing/minimalist trend is thinking from the wrong end of the problem. Getting rid of stuff only means more stuff for someone else to deal with. And then those who shed it just get more, different stuff.
Purging sounds like a great idea but then perfectly good things end up in the trash and landfills. We say, "Oh but I DONATE it to charities." Uh-hunh. Ever been at one of those charities to see the mountains of things they have to deal with, and how much hits the dumpsters or gets sold to rag dealers (there really are such people still, they take it to places that recycle it)? Or how much ends up being shipped overseas, where it becomes someone else's problem when it's all used up? Or if, as is the case frequently, the piles and piles of clothing create a new hazard in these places, and often results in loss of the local textile industry. Remember the photos of the flipflops washing in on the tide?
And yes, thrifts do dump perfectly good glass, crockery and other items. I've seen them doing it. Because what else can they do with it, when they are pretty much the place of last resort? Recycling stations are getting pickier and pickier about what they will take and a recent article noted that recycling isn't profitable any more--it costs more to recycle some things than it does to just make new, as this article in Forbes explores.
The other part of this is that while we feel all cleaned up and organized, what we have really done is shed our responsibility for the stuff we got rid of. It's become someone else's problem. But it's still here because once the stuff is in the world it doesn't go away--maybe out of our life, but it's going to be somewhere, in someone's life. The real key isn't shedding our stuff, but not buying new stuff in the first place.
So instead of downsizing, purging, or whatever word currently in use, what we need to be doing is using what we already have on hand and if we need to replace something, buy used. We have to take responsibility for our stuff, and that is a lot harder to do than dumping it off at a thrift.
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