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Take responsibility for the things you bring into your life — and watch this video

by respaced on October 12, 2010

I just watched this excellent video online called Reuse It, made here locally by Bring Recycling, an Oregon-based waste reduction organization and used building materials retailer. You can watch it here.

What does this have to do with organization or budget home design? Well, when we organize, the first step we take is to sort through all of our belongings, deciding what we want to keep and what we don’t want to keep. When we don’t want to keep something, where does it go? Hopefully, to some sort of recycling or donation center.

However, the video pointed out that most of us throw our unwanted things away (not counting glass, paper or aluminum, which Oregonians are pretty good about recycling). We threw away 3 million tons of things last year, and the video said if this was compacted, it would create a block 1 foot deep by 6 feet high that would stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean! That’s a lot of junk.

(Note that for some people, making sure they dispose of unwanted things in the most ecologically sound way possible becomes a stumbling block for them. They can’t decide where to donate/recycle, so they avoid getting rid of anything. This is perfectionism in disguise, and I can tell you that the answer is not to turn your home into a dumping ground!)

One of the things the video pointed out is that we are throwing even more things into the landfills now then we did in the 1990s. This is because we’re consuming more stuff, which is because we’re using/buying more stuff. Yikes!

If we compulsively shop, then we contibute to this dilemma.If we bring home “treasures” we find that were garage sale finds or “free” along the side of the road, we contribute to this problem. See, eventually, our stuff will have to be sorted and disposed of — maybe only after we die — and we hope that it doesn’t end up in a landfill, but that may be the only choice for our things that cannot be reused.

This points to another organizing principle, which is if you have less stuff, you will have less to put away and clean around each day. The more stuff you buy at the store, the more you bring home, the more housework you create for yourself. Do you really want to do that to yourself?

The video spoke frequently about reusing building supplies and briefly showcased stores where you can buy salvaged and vintage home building supplies around the state. Two that were mentioned I have blogged about including Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage and the ReBuilding Center. If you are into DIY home decor, it’s fun to see the other businesses they profile around the state.

Buy less, bring home less, and reuse when you can. It’s all about taking responsibility for the things you choose to bring into your life.

Image from Reuse It: The Movie, made by Bring It.

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