Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thoughts from an Estate Sale

We picked up an amazing dresser from an estate sale this past weekend. It's solid wood, has great lines, is in excellent condition, and only set us back $50. I couldn't find something like this on Craigslist if I tried.

Obviously such a steal is a win for us and buying something used is a win for the environment. But that isn't the point of this post.

The biggest thing that struck me from this estate sale is how much stuff this person had in their house. Additionally, John and I have both lost grandparents over the past few years and have heard stories from family members about sorting through the many belongings left behind.

Seeing a house full of stuff inspired me to take a harder look at all the stuff in our house. While I try to do my best about donating or recycling something I don't need anymore, I sometimes hold back thinking I'll need that item in the future. Plus, I feel guilty about sending something to a landfill. Though I realize that doing so turns my home into a landfill. Fortunately, Jess has all sorts of resources about making under or doing a "Throw Out 50 (or 100) Things" challenge. And by "throw out," ideally that means donating or recycling before throwing out.

To help guide the challenge, Jess uses "The Ventilator Test" to evaluate what to do with the stuff. The basic premise is:
If I was suddenly killed, moved to Timbuktu, or put into the Witness Protection Program at a moment’s notice; what would my family do with my stuff? Would they donate it to a charity? Send it to the recycling center? Sell it on Ebay? Or put it in the dumpster? If the answer is the latter, it’s safe to say that if you don’t throw away that really old prom shoe, someone else will.
Seeing and hearing about "The Ventilator Test" in action is eye-opening. Family members have enough burdens when a loved ones passes away. Cleaning out a house full of stuff from the past 50 years shouldn't be one of them.

I won't become a minimalist overnight, but I'd like to do a better job at exfoliating the unnecessary things I have and minimizing the unnecessary things I bring into our home. And it looks like I'm on the right track because I was driving to Goodwill to donate a bag of stuff and the mall to return a sweater when I stumbled upon the estate sale.

Do you have any tips to share when purging the stuff in your home? Or getting over the guilt of sending something to a landfill?

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  1. If you haven't worn it or used it in a year, you probably don't need it!

    1. Definitely a good rule of thumb! If I haven't touched the box from when we moved in May 2011, I probably don't need it. Not to mention the stuff I hauled from St. Louis in December 2009. (Oy vey!)

  2. Love the dresser!! Awesome find. Makes me want to go garage and estate saleing. Have you ever used freecycle? See if there is a group in your area. You post the items you want to get rid of and people come pick it up. People post all kinds of things on there and a great stop for some items before the trash and you don't have to drive to goodwill.


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