Monday, June 02, 2014

The dilemma of STUFF

I've always been someone who cares about the environment. When I was in year 11 my friend Erika and I started the "Environmental Club" at school with the view of raising awareness of what we can do to help the planet. We didn't do a whole lot but the ideology was what mattered more at the time.

And ever since, I've tried to do my bit. We donate money to Greenpeace and the Wilderness Society, and up until recently (when we got solar panels*) paid the extra money for 100% green power. We recycle nearly everything, compost food scraps, buy recycled loo paper (Who Gives a Crap - seriously worth it, check 'em out!), don't believe in air conditioning (which is horrid on those 40+°C days), and generally try to be good environmentally-friendly citizens.

However, there's a downside to all of this. I have a tendency to not throw stuff out. We have boxes of clothes which we've been storing to give to a good home. Atti mostly wears Dante's hand-me-downs, Elora wears (some of) Atti's hand-me-downs, and we have friends with a little girl and now a wonderful one year old nephew who will be the recipient of many items. But storing and sorting the clothes is a bit of an issue. We have boxes of the stuff cluttering up our upstairs hallway area.

And then there's furniture. After witnessing the old family lounge being crushed to smithereens in the council garbage truck one year (I thought the council would take it away for charity or something) I'm reluctant to put out anything useful or in fairly good nick in the Council Cleanup. In any case, our council has changed from a twice yearly "everyone put things out at the same time = local community scavenge weekend" to a "book your pickup" which means there's no opportunity for people to pick up second hand items, and possibly save a treasure from landfill. Instead it all just gets CRUSHED in the compacting garbage trucks. It makes me cry.

Hence we have a garage full of old furniture... Some of it ours, some of it my parents', some of it my brothers' (I think, but probably not as much any more). Dan refers to the garage as "the shed". There's no room for a car.

Anyway, the original point of this post was going to be this: I'm torn between my desire for nice things and a nice house with matching furniture and hand made items and beautiful artworks, and my in-built core belief of "don't throw it away if it's still good"... where "good" means still useful and doing its main task. For example, we now have three sofas in our lounge room. None of them match. One is the pair to my parents' leather lounge set - the other is at their place. Dan hates the leather, and it's a hideous very '90s peach colour, but it's comfortable to lie on (for me anyway, being shorter). I can't bear to throw it away. Our other lounges are Ikea ones, one a sofa-bed and the other a hand-me-down from a friend. They're comfy but ratty. Still doing their main task of being a place to put one's bum.

And so on. The kitchen, which was put in by my father in the '90s using recycled materials from a house he was renovating (so probably early '80s vintage cabinetry). The bathroom (what was it with the love of peach-coloured things?) has cracked tiles and shower screen. Get the idea?

I don't know what to do. How do I reconcile these two opposing feelings?

* More in another blog post