I went to a community-wide garage sale this weekend, and did pretty well. I didn't buy much, which is good, but I did buy a sweater that I didn't need, which is bad. The sweater was vintage, in beautiful condition, with beading and no holes and I couldn't resist. I also got a set of like-new brain puzzles for my father.
I shouldn't have gone to the garage sale in the first place, but I was looking for a couple items I know my family will use in the next couple of months. We live in southern California, and I know we will be going to the beach. My children like playing in the water longer than I do -- so I will be sitting on the beach, and I have wanted an umbrella in years past. My son wants a betta fish (actually, he wants a 20 gallon aquarium and I've talked him down) so I was looking for a bowl for the fish. I didn't come back with either, but as I looked a couple friends offered to supply both the bowl and the umbrella, so I'm set.
It made me think about all the stuff people have, things they don't want and would like to move to good homes. This same weekend I spoke to an elderly man who would like to get rid of the woodworking tools in his garage because he can no longer use them. He'd like them to go to a good home, but he doesn't have the wherewithal to find a new home (I'll be looking around for him).
As I get rid of things in my journey toward minimalism I want my stuff to be useful to someone else. I have so much that has either never been used or has not been used up. If my useful stuff could supply someone else's needs we would all be better off -- me, the person who needs them, the environment (less stuff made creates less demand on resources and creates less landfill). I feel frustrated when things I don't need lie around without purpose (this means you, souvenir Jamaica hat someone gave us!)
I'd like more people to be open to used items as an answer to a need. I'd like more people to be willing to give used items as a gift, without an associated stigma (the puzzles are not "used up" because they have been used!). I'd like people to have a safe way to offer their unwanted materials to other people.
I don't have answers. I just hope that other people are trying to get answers to the same questions.