Accepting Others’ Clutter

January 30, 2011

A few days ago, Mary asked whether we have stopped buying solely to become pickier about what stuff we bring into our lives or whether we hoped to create for ourselves a small cooperative economy. In fact, for me, gratitude for my personal borrowing/lending/giving community was one of the most significant by-products of my no-buying experience in 2009.

Channing and I are lucky enough to have family nearby that we can turn to when we encounter a problem. When I began telecommuting in January 2009, I brought home a printer/scanner/copier from the office and needed a place to put it. Channing’s mom offered me a small red table she wasn’t using. We like the table so much, we kept it during the move. It now holds my sewing machine, a small box of craft supplies, and a basket of fabric. Likewise, when our toaster broke that February, my parents supplied me with an old but still functional toaster they had stored in the attic. This toaster also survived the move; I used it earlier this week.

So, to answer Mary’s questions, yes, I probably would take an open box of aluminum foil or parchment paper if a friend had one to spare. I might also accept a few sheets of construction paper.* In fact, a few people have already offered me these items, but I haven’t taken advantage of their kindness—primarily because I haven’t yet missed anything I’ve run out of.

Giving purpose to others’ clutter could turn out to be an essential component of this experiment. It is a positive way to share the waste-not-want-not mentality and extend my borrowing/lending/giving community beyond family. Lucky for me, Helene has created the building blocks for this extended community with our Voluntary Simplicity group. While I don’t anticipate needing to ask for a lot of help, I am grateful to have a group I’d feel comfortable turning to for support, material or otherwise.

*I’m not sure I want to go down that road again, though. I gave a bunch of craft supplies to a summer camp via Freecycle when we moved. Construction paper and markers made up the bulk of those supplies. I find that both have a tendency to take over an inordinate amount of drawer space. Plus, I’m currently trying to avoid bringing anything else into our home office, which since Thanksgiving has deteriorated to junk room status.



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