The Final Tally for the Great Donate 2017 (and What I Learned Along the Way)

by - Monday, January 01, 2018

Alright, friends, The Great Donate 2017 is officially over! And our final number is...


Ok, so we didn't end up gifting and donating 2,017 items. We maybe would have been a lot closer had we counted differently, but I think we can all agree we only made it two thirds of the way there.

Is it weird that I am still really freaking proud of us?

Gifting 1,482 objects is no joke. That is a lot of stuff! We cut down on so much waste (some of that stuff usually gets donated, like clothes, but some were food that could have gone bad or items I never would have thought to offer before). I also learned so so much on this journey, and I thought I would share the biggest stuff here.

1. We Really Really Need to Stop Shopping

When you are trying to cut down on the stuff in your home, you become ever more aware of all the stuff you are bringing in too. There is just too much stuff. Passing it to other people is only a temporary solution- the best thing we can do for the Earth is JUST BUY LESS.  All these objects may get a longer life if I am willing to hand them off, but so many of them are just not useful, and no amount of handoffs will solve that we just have way more than we need.

Nowhere is this more obvious than when dealing with clothes. My husband and I both like clothes, and we definitely buy more than we should. We give what we aren't using away, and we still manage to fit everything in one smallish closet, but we wouldn't be in this constant cycle of bringing in and giving away if we just stopped bringing things in.

I buy clothes with the hope that this is the jeans or dress that will just click my style together or make me feel beautiful, but it never itches that scratch enough that I am not thinking about shopping more soon after. It just shows my weak spot, it never really makes me happy, and an unreliable garment is just going to get passed around or thrown away.

This year is probably the first in my life where we gave away way more than we brought in. But we still brought a lot of stuff into this house. So the goal next year is to just stop buying things.

2. Buy Nothing is Heaven on the Internet

I pimp Buy Nothing a LOT on this blog, but I 100% believe this project could change the world. You find a group that is local to you, and then you use the facebook page to offer gifts to others and ask for things you need.

It is SO MUCH SLOWER than just going to Goodwill with a massive drop. But I think it is worth it.

First, the world can feel terrible, and nowhere is it more hopeless and awful than my newsfeed. My Buy Nothing group is like a bright spot every morning, because I see people practicing kindness literally everyday. Helping their neighbors every time I get on facebook. Doing things for each other all the time. If I never participated, it would still be worth it to be in there.

Second, I have met and made friends with so many of my neighbors. We are still new to a city infamous for being less than warm and cuddly. It can be really hard to get to know people. I have had so many awesome, hilarious conversations with other people in my neighborhood (especially moms) as I hand off baby shoes or mistake tank tops or old food coloring. When I see some people from my Buy Nothing out in the world, we hug! Hugging for goodness sakes!

 This may be nothing to you, but to me it is really, really something. So often, neighbors note we have mutual friends. It feels like we really live here. I am so hopeful this trend continues into 2018.

Third, and this is most important for my purposes, when you give things away this way, you know that someone has gotten it. And they want it. So it will get used, which is really the goal. You give things away because someone else can use them, and it feels good to see that person.

3. A Transition Space Helps

We have a corner of our basement where we take things when we say "hey, we don't actually want this." Once enough stuff piles up that it's embarrassing, and the never-claimed headboard looks like it's shaming me, I did giant gifting days on Buy Nothing.

4. Always Research Before You Throw Away

Someone can use what you want to get rid of. You have so many options beyond Goodwill and Salvation Army. So before you toss those vhs tapes or old blankets, be sure to check out who needs what in your area. You can also get on shelters and other places facebook or mailing lists- it might just inspire you to let go of things other people really need!

It is better to constantly be in the process of "let's get rid of it" than to try to remember what you don't use at a specific time. Pick a shelf in a closet or a corner in a room and just start landing anything you may not want into Stuff Purgatory. Be ruthless, and if you go back to get something it stays. If a month in you haven't thought of it, it's time for it to go.

Want to join me in 2018? Here's the Schtick- 

So, I am totally trying this again in 2018. You might think I am crazy, but the average American household has over 300,000 objects in it, so giving away another 2,000 would still leave me at barely over 1% of our stuff. 2,018 objects will be given away in 2018, making our house that much cleaner, filled with only things that are meaningful or useful to us.

- Try to give away 2,018 things. Pretty simple. Declutter those closets. Give away the clothes. It's such a small percentage you don't have to touch

- Getting rid of stuff and minimizing is great, but only if that stuff is getting use elsewhere. Throwing things out doesn't help anyone, it only adds to the world's ever growing bulk of waste. There is no such thing as throwing things away, because it still occupies our planet and our livable space.

- Donating in bulk is great, but gifting with specificity is better. We know that when those huge loads are dropped off at Goodwill, many of them will never find an owner. So if you have sweatshirts or socks, check whether local organizations do drives for those specific things. Join local Buy Nothing or Freecycle or whatever else groups. If you find the person who will use your object, you are guaranteeing it won't be wasted.

That's it. Keep track how you want.

Who's in? I will do the kickoff for real later on, but start your stuff pile to give away now, while you are looking at that Christmas gift you know will be collecting dust. Because no one needs that denim studded denim handbag. Even if you don't make the big goal, I promise I will think you are awesome!

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