Early last year, I issued what I called the “Use It Up Challenge,” in which I implored us all to tone down the decluttering madness to stop and consider whether we might be able to get more use out of our belongings before we discard them. In part because most of what we donate with good intentions actually ends up in landfills, as trash. In part because much of what we declutter, we later end up repurchasing, which requires more resources for manufacturing and shipping and is ultimately more wasteful. And in part because many of us buy less when we look around and see plenty that we already possess.
That challenge posed the question:
“If we knew this thing was going straight to the landfill when it leaves our hands, would we treat it differently? Would we try harder to get more use out of it?”
In the ONL house, we did pretty well at that challenge. We donated very little last year in terms of physical goods (though did donate a lot charitably – I cannot encourage that half of donating enough!), and instead tried to get the full use out of the things that no longer spark joy or whatever less woo-woo way you want to describe it. We also found some new homes for things that we might otherwise have donated, and that way we know they’ll get used instead of just end up trashed.
Where we did not do so well was in the second part of that challenge: the nothing new year. Our aspiration was to buy little to nothing that was newly manufactured, with the goal to acquire as little stuff as possible, but where necessary, we’d try our best to buy that thing secondhand.
We started with good intentions. A few days into