Have you ever seen those videos where a previously injured wild animal has been rehabilitated and released back into the wild? The animal takes off, and everyone cheers… dopamine for everyone!
Those videos are the perfect inspiration for when I have accumulated too much stuff. You see, I hate throwing things away- it feels terrible for the environment and wasteful of my resources. Plus, what if I want to use that item again someday? But when I think of releasing something to have a wonderful life of use, that feels *appealing*. And if I have a friend along for the ride, that feels *great*. So allow me to propose a friend date for Earth Day this year: a stuff-you-aren’t-using rescue and release ceremony.
Step One: The Rescue
There are whole libraries on the topic of choosing what to get rid of, so here’s the point for today: anything that shouldn’t go in the regular trash or the recycling bin is fair game! Find things that are lingering in your home, awaiting a better life. Maybe it’s that crafting tool you haven’t touched in years, the box of old phones waiting to be recycled into something new and shiny, or the pants you never choose to wear even though you could.
- If you could imagine yourself giving it away to a friend, picture the happy stranger who will use it, and ask if that’s better than just leaving it in your closet.
- Many things you wouldn’t want in your water supply shouldn’t go into the trash. Used motor oil, old medications, and paints/solvents often need to be disposed of more carefully. Look in the garage or under your sink and see if there’s stuff there that should go.
- Electronics are another item that should stay out of the trash. Luckily, recycling these are often easy – see step two!
Step Two: The Preparation Date
You can look up things like electronics recycling facilities, used prescription glasses drop-offs, thrift stores that support causes you care about, consignment boutiques, etc. Have a Zoom/Facetime/phone date to list the correct “habitat” for each type of item. Don’t worry – teaming up with a friend makes this process a lot less tedious and stressful than it sounds.
- If you have stuff in terrific condition that might be worth something, you can look into consignment or resale stores.
- Many places that sell electronics also have recycling drop-offs for such items. T-mobile stores, for example, will take old cell phones.
- Get creative when thinking about where to take items with much life left. Pet shelters, homeless shelters, art schools, and more often have websites listing what they need. Additionally, great nonprofit organizations take job interviews and clothes for people trying to transition into the workforce.
Step Three: The Release Ceremony!
You and your friend (and your rescued stuff) can stroll around the city, dropping off the right things at the right places. Along the way, you can share fond memories, make up stories about who might use the item next, sing along to tunes in the car, and catch up.
- Take photos when you release something you really enjoyed. Now you can remember the item *and* the event!
- Set yourself up for maximum fun: don’t try to do the research and run the errands all in one day. It’ll likely be more fun if you’re fresh and not mentally drained from figuring out where everything will go.
- Celebrate. Every. Drop-off. That’s huge! You’re doing a tricky thing that you may have been putting off for a long time, plus you’re taking environmentally responsible action.
Why it works for me:
Here are some of the key reasons that I find this method helpful:
- Instead of focusing on what it might feel like to lose the item, I imagine how that item will contribute to someone else’s life.
- Instead of each item type requiring a separate trip, I can get them all knocked out in one go… without resorting to chucking them into the trash.
- Having a collaborator for step two prevents the overwhelm of figuring out where to go and ensures that I get around to looking it all up instead of leaving it for “someday.” If you’re familiar with “now” versus “not now,” this brings it into the now!
- Running errands with a friend saves on gas, gives us time to catch up, and helps me remember to celebrate every drop-off we make.
- I sometimes struggle to make time for friends, and I sometimes struggle to think of what to do with a friend – this takes care of both birds with one ceremony.
Having ADHD can make tasks like this hard for many reasons, and everyone’s relationship with “stuff” is different. Depending on what feels good or bad, you can modify and customize the rescue and release ceremony however works for you. The only important thing about it is finding the overlap between what’s good for your brain and what’s good for the environment and making progress however you can.