Mindful Discarding

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Holy Week has just passed. Holy Week being a four-day break is a long break , more felt before the quarantines or lockdowns. Our family and most of my friends don’t go out on vacation to some resorts or beaches during this long break specially when my mother was still alive. We attended church services and stayed home for family bonding and some quiet time. The long break is usually a time for me to organize my things or declutter.

I organize and discard things mindfully because I have a tendency to hold on to items which hold memories. Decluttering can sometimes be an emotional experience as I let my rational mind balance my sentimental side. Another reason is, I’d like to be part of the solution in maintaining environmental health so I don’t simply throw away old or extra items.

Clutter avoidance or buying only items needed when they are needed or mindful acquiring should be the strategy because of my tendency to hold on to things. I practice this as much as possible. However, there are times when I still buy new things like when there’s an occasion where I have to dress appropriately even if it means wearing a dress with a matching pair of shoes just once. I also buy some products made by charitable organizations to support them. And there are items which I didn’t buy like gifts which are beautiful and I appreciate but are sometimes duplicates.

So I do the following:

Selection of Items to Give Away

I sort my items into

1. Unused. These are usually excess items I bought when I travelled intended as “pasalubong”. ( Note: Pasalubongs are gifts made when coming from a trip). Sometimes I receive duplicate gifts/give-aways from corporate events, items I won from raffles and the like.

2. Hardly Used . These are items I bought or gifts which I used once or twice for an occasion/occasions , dresses or apparels that didn’t suit me .

3. Used . These are items which have outlived their use or I received a new one which is similar. These are sub-classified to useable and for throwing away.

Selection of Recipients

I choose my recipients with care.

1. Unused – I sometimes give them as gifts or give-aways for Christmas . I’d choose items for gifts as if I’m buying them, with much thought if the recipient will like it. Sometimes I just give them because they are needed like when I won the grand prize in a raffle, a flat screen TV and I gave it to my sister whose old TV needed replacement. The others, I donate to charities.

One option for giving /discarding is through barter that developed and became popular during the pandemic. It’s discussed here https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1103536. This was also suggested in our neighborhood but it did not catch on. Still, I see posts in our Subdivision chat group by someone who is selling or giving something away and asking if anyone is interested. It’s a good way to match items with those who need them.

Another option is garage or yard sale, popular in western countries and tried by a few in the Philippines, which I haven’t tried.

2. Hardly used – I give them away but I ask my recipient to choose, usually a relative or a close friend like when I gave away bags and luggage. By this approach, am sure the item is really liked or needed and the item will find a new appreciative owner/home . When an item is not chosen, I keep keep the items until I find a recipient (if there’s still storage space) or donate them to charities.

I’d like to donate to charities near to my community as possible , or to organizations which are not yet large or to charities which teach beneficiaries to be self-sufficient/self-reliant.

3. Used . Those which are useable are donated. Those which are no longer useable are sold to “mangangalakal” if they are made of metal like old computers, screens, and the like or if they are made of certain kinds of recyclable plastics. (Note: “Mangangalakal” literally is trader but they refer to those who buy recyclable items and sell them to junk shops. They used to be called “bote-dyaryo” literally bottle-newspaper because they usually buy used bottles and old newspapers).

Those which cannot be sold to the “mangangalakal” are repurposed at home. Examples are old towels and T-shirts which I make into rags, old containers which I make into plant pots and the like. The rest are thrown away. I put nice boxes and nice bottles in clean transparent bags when I put them for pick up by the garbage collector so that if anyone passing by or the garbage collector will find them useful , he can take them.

Timing of Giving

Giving as gifts/give-aways usually occurs on Christmas because of the spirit of gift-giving . I remember in my previous office when we hold an after-Christmas exchange gift of items that are good but for some reasons are just languishing in our storage. It was fun and helpful at the same time.

The Philippines is usually visited by typhoons during the rainy season so I go over my things during these times and donate appropriate items.

There’s always Caritas which accepts donations through parishes anytime. They can also pick up your donations depending on the items being donated and location. They donate things directly or sell them in their stores to generate fund for use in projects like scholarship.

Repurposing is done as needed.

If the above process of selection fails , items are thrown away which is the last resort.

The process boils down to mindful acquiring and mindful discarding, a simple process if the objective is simply to acquire or discard and mindfulness is taken out of the process. But our environment is going out of balance with mindless acquisitions and mindless discarding. And, life’s simple joys can come from small things we receive from those we love or by giving something that we think will give our loved ones joy.

6 thoughts on “Mindful Discarding

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