Too good to dump

By Theresa Wells

I am in the process of downsizing. Many of us go through these cycles, I think, acquisition phases that then move into “desperate to get rid of” phases. It often happens when we move, or when we have kids and over time they outgrew their clothes and toys and books. The question when we are downsizing, for whatever reason, is what to do with the items we want to lose. It seems a shame to throw them away, because often there is nothing wrong with them. They just don’t fit into our houses – or our lives – anymore, and so we find ourselves wanting to find them another home, and preferably not a dumpster. I was going through exactly this when I found a local Facebook page, and one that has pretty much changed how I will deal with this problem again.

The page is called “Too Good to Dump Fort McMurray”. It’s fundamentally a form of “freecycling”, people giving away things they can no longer use or no longer want, and others happily accepting those things. I just started posting on it, and I thought it would be a slow process, with items sitting and waiting to be picked up even after someone had expressed interest in them – but I was so very, very wrong. I began posting photos of my free items and within seconds had people wanting them – and the first items disappeared from my house within half an hour.

I could see this getting pretty addictive actually, as the purging feels pretty good, and the happiness of others who receive my unwanted items feels pretty great, too. The dog has been watching me giving things away for the past two days and has begun to hide under the table, fearing she might be next, and my daughter is quietly stashing away anything she doesn’t want me suddenly deciding should leave our house. I can’t help it though – this is a terrific idea on so many levels, and for me it really speaks to another great thing about our community. It speaks to our desire to help each other.

When I have things I don’t want I hate to throw them out if they are in good shape. It seems a shame to take something that I once loved so much that I bought it and then toss it into the trash when it still retains some use. It goes against everything my parents, who lived through the Depression, taught me. And while I am no hoarder I, like everyone else, have a lot of things I no longer use. I catch myself looking at them and thinking “why do I still have that anyhow?” – but now when I think that I don’t have to feel the guilt of thinking about throwing it away. Instead it will go on the Facebook page and hopefully go to another home where they will enjoy it. And the thing I remember is that every time I give something away I have done three things: I have made someone else happy, I have saved another item from the dump, and I have made more room for a new pair of shoes (and I will never, ever give those away, so don’t bother looking on the free items Facebook page for those!).

There is something that feels very good about this whole enterprise, and very freeing. I know that I could probably hold a garage sale and sell these items instead, but my experience of garage sales is that they are a lot of work for very little gain, and honestly I prefer the freecycling idea. There is just some joy in giving happiness to others, even if it comes from knitting yarn I will never use because I learned I am a terrible knitter.

And if you are looking for something for free? Then there is the “Too Good to Dump – Looking for Free Items” page. It seems this is really catching on, as both pages have very robust membership and are very active.

So, if you are spring-cleaning or downsizing or just have something staring at you that you cannot bring yourself to throw away but no longer want? Well, come join us at the “Too Good to Dump” page, and start freeing yourself from the material goods weighing you down. Save the earth, give to others, and make room in your life – what could possibly be better than that? And as for me I need to go reassure the dog that she isn’t being freecycled, and tell the kid to start sorting books and clothing – because our adventure in freecycling is just beginning!

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