It’s the most wonderful time of the year

The school year ends today, but I don’t want you to think my title implies that I had my breakdown over the girls’ getting older and now I’m fine – I’m not. I don’t want a senior! I’m pretty sure the math is wrong and Abby should be in about third grade, which means Johanna is only two. But here we are, and ever undaunted we move on. Needs must, etc.

No, the most wonderful time of the year is actually our church’s annual rummage sale. It’s a weeklong extravaganza, and it’s when The Walker Four unloads most of our crap. We could probably just hold our own garage sale, but THAT is a lot of work, and I’m just not up for it. The money has been spent, that ship has sailed, let’s just move on.

You’d think that, since we’ve been minimalists for a few years now, we wouldn’t have that much to donate anymore, and yet we really do. We took a load down last Saturday, and I made another run yesterday morning before work. Two full carloads.

Thursday's load, which doesn't include the easel that Eric made Johanna for her fifth birthday.

Thursday’s load, which doesn’t include the easel that Eric made Johanna for her fifth birthday. 

It’s sort of like Christmas in reverse, now that I think about it, because it takes months to prepare for and several trips to get it all done, but you end up with nothing at the end.

I noticed this year, besides the usual clothing cast-offs (Johanna grows FAST) and the kitchen items I’ve decided I really can live without, our donations mostly consisted of things we packed into our new house 13 years ago … and failed to unpack.


(So that’s where Abby’s Classic Pooh nursery stuff went! I actually forgot that had been a thing until Eric found the boxes.)

That’s a pretty sad commentary, when you have so much stuff that you didn’t even bother to unpack it, let alone use it or remember what it is.

There were a few items that we kept back to offer to family, pieces we’ve inherited. I have no problem getting rid of anything, whatever its history (I even donated my wedding dress and veil to the rummage sale a couple of years ago. It caused quite a stir. I think they ended up selling it online, though, because rummage sales aren’t really anyone’s first thought for wedding attire), but I don’t mind taking the time to ask around and place items with people who might be a little more sentimental than I am. Fun fact: Email works really well for this, but I’ve even posted items to Facebook.

Regardless of how we purged these items, it makes me happy. And I’m especially pleased knowing that we’ve peeled back enough layers that we’re now into the … what? … forgotten corners in the basement (hello, Classic Pooh). It shows me that we really have made progress. When you’re looking at the view every day, you kind of forget.

Oh, and in case anyone is curious: Whatever doesn’t sell at the rummage sale is donated to thrift shops in the area. Not that none of it will someday end up in the landfill, just that it might take a while for it to get there.

Anyway, this might seem more like a pitch for minimalism than zero waste (and maybe it is, I don’t know, I try to be unbiased because we’re all on our own journeys, but I really love being a minimalist), but I think maybe it’s both – part of zero waste is just not bringing in stuff to begin with, and when you have to work so hard to get it OUT, it makes it easier to resist the pull of New Things.

Because it’s kind of hard getting excited about a purchase when you’re worried about how you’re going to get rid of it …

Next up: We’ve got a couple of options, ranging from more stories to DIY projects I still haven’t gotten around to posting. We’ll see where the wind takes us.

4 Responses to It’s the most wonderful time of the year

  1. I think being minimalist and going zero waste have a lot in common. Both are more a journey than a destination, both go against the common flow, and both are about reducing our impact on the world and environment.

    I gave a friend two aquariums for her son. They have been in the garage for at LEAST 5 years, one has probably been there 15. We never pet fish again. I don’t know who was happier — my friend’s son, who wanted them for his pregnant lizard, or us for getting all that space back.

    (Definitely I am happy not to have a pregnant lizard!)

    • That is seriously the best story I’ve heard all week. Not only do you get rid of some unwanted items, but you manage to make a kid’s day AND not have a pregnant lizard! I did NOT see that punchline coming. That really did make me laugh out loud.

  2. Oh my – I remember the annual rummage sale at our former church before we moved. The sheer quantity of really good quality clothing and items that came in every year was staggering. We lived in a fairly wealthy area (although WE aren’t wealthy) so the quality wasn’t surprising but the quantity was. Year after year after year. It’s almost sickening to think of the consumption that represents.

    Still – I miss that annual event. We church members got a preview visit, complete with wine and cheese, the evening before so we got first choice. Never even made a dent in the stuff!

    • It’s definitely an event every year. We generally save our stuff for this sale — it’s just easier than having to figure out where else to bring it — and apparently a lot of people have the same idea because there’s always so much that you could never possibly see it all. I agree, it is almost sickening. I feel that way whenever I walk into a Goodwill, too … it’s just so MUCH.

      And yet, I do enjoy browsing. I don’t generally buy anything (well, minimalism, although one year I scored a box of Le Parfait jars, could NOT believe my luck), but I like to see what other people donated (and also see if our stuff is gone yet, I won’t lie).

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