A lifetime of accumulation

With each passing year I realise that I have accumulated more than I will ever be able to use. I have champagne glasses, plates, and platters galore, sheets, towels and tablecloths that have never seen the light of day. Many of these items have been given to me by generous friends who have looked for a perfect present and no doubt spent a pretty penny in the process. I am always grateful for their kind thoughts.

I have kept sentimental items which remind me of special places or times, and they make me smile when I notice them on a shelf as I walk by. These would be particularly difficult to part with and I am glad to keep them with me.

The more practical things I would happily give away, if only I had somewhere to take them. I have donated many items to Vinnies and the Salvos but they are now overflowing with donated goods. Even country towns recently ravaged by floods are asking people to stop sending donations. They have filled every hall available and are now facing the issue of trying to move the excess on.

One of the saddest things I have recently seen is footage of markets in Africa where women attempt to recycle clothes offloaded by wealthy countries. They call them ‘Dead White Man’s Clothes’ and try to sell the merchandise for a pittance. It seems nobody wants what we discard and all we have done is to shift the problem elsewhere.

I remember in my twenties we were thankful for every bit of donated furniture, crockery, and glassware. We weren’t choosy. We repurposed most items and it was a long time before we considered buying anything new. New things were expensive. There were no two-dollar shops, mass market imports hadn’t flooded the market yet and we had to make do. In many ways, I feel we were better at recycling simply because we had to be. I would have been ever so thankful for the things I am now trying pass on. And if I hadn’t wanted them, I would have known dozens of people who did.

So here I am with boxes of brick-a-brac I’d love to give away. But in an era of plenty, it is more difficult to give away than it ever was to accumulate.

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