BeyondConsumerism

Providing tools and support to families, citizens, and activists to counter our consumerist culture and to create new social norms about how to have a high quality of life and a reduced ecological footprint.

Redistribution and Sharing

Think about how much of the stuff we get rid of is still functional, but is just unwanted or out of style. These discarded but usable items represent a huge amount of value in resources, money, and decreased environmental stress. And many of them, like “boxy” televisions and aging computers, are still in demand in economically disadvantaged regions of the United States and around the world.

If you are determined to replace an item that still works, why not pass it on instead of throwing it out? There are a variety of ways to redistribute your unwanted clutter, which could be exactly what someone else is looking for. Or, if you’re in the market for a particular item, consider buying used before opting for newly produced stuff.

Share it!

Do you have stuff sitting around in your house that you barely use but don’t quite want to get rid of, or that you know still has value? Think about lending it or sharing it! Many home items, such as power tools, are often bought for a specific project and then go more-or-less unused. You can lighten your burden of "stuff" and help others out by sharing.

Check out New Dream’s Guide to Sharing to learn more about how you can share things—from clothing and tools to your time and skills—as well as access the products and services you need, without having to buy or own them. Join the emerging sharing economy and embrace access over ownership!

Sell it

If you want to raise a little cash, hold a garage sale. Don’t expect to increase your net worth, but if you invite other families and hold a multi-family sale, you can make some money while involving the community. Bargain hunters, collectors, and lower-income families often frequent garage sales. It’s a win-win for your wallet, your clutter, and your community.

If you have stuff you don’t think anyone wants, think again. Items like retro video games, old computers, records, and 8-track tapes can often be sold on eBay where the listings are visible to millions of people. Online sale sites like eBay and Etsy are great places to sell unique and vintage items, or items with a limited or specialized demand. What might be worthless to most garage sale browsers might interest a collector on eBay.

For higher-quality items, consignment shops and auction houses are often a safe bet for getting rid of stuff, but commissions can be high, so be prepared for lower-than expected returns.

Give it away

If you look a little, there are many ways to give away or donate your unwanted stuff. Freecycle, a popular email-based exchange for offering unwanted items, has thousands of local groups and millions of members. Many communities hold swap meets or item exchanges, like the Really Really Free Market or clothing swaps.

Goodwill and the Salvation Army are popular and reputable places to donate to (and shop at!), and you can even get a tax deduction there. And don’t forget small, local thrift shops and annual rummage sales that benefit local schools, churches, and community organizations.

TAKE-HOME MESSAGE: It’s great to own things we need, but too often we end up owning things we don’t need. This doesn’t mean they have no value. Recognizing the value of “stuff”—not just its economic value, but its community and environmental value—will go a long way toward changing our approach to materialism.