I was feeling overwhelmed this morning as I worked on sorting out recent donations. There are boxes and bags upon bags of fabric in addition to a ton of other donations in my store right now. One box that I opened up had 15-20 large stamps in it, some with price tags still attached.
The calculator was running in my head. There are literally hundreds of dollars worth of supplies in this box, and a lot of them looking brand new.
My stomach started to feel a little upset. I couldn't help but feel like this was too much. It's too much that I was given these items. It's too much that these were all manufactured in the first place and then sold at such high prices. It reminded me that there is so much stuff everywhere and that people have mostly new items just lying around not being used. It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that there's an entire industry dedicated to storing stuff for people. It makes me feel sick when I am confronted with the sheer amount of things that have been made and exist and the problem of where to put it and what to do with it.
In the midst of sorting stamps, wrangling my piles of fabric, and feeling so bad about having so much, I saw a man pull up on a bicycle and stop by the food box. I hurried outside to let him know that I was just about to fill it up for the morning if he could wait a few minutes.
He said "oh, no worries! I brought a few items of clothing to put in and I'll swap you when you fill it up." I brought out the food, and he helped me arrange it nicely in the box. He pulled out a pair of jeans and work gloves to put in and took a bag of beef stew and a packet of ramen noodles.
We chatted about the box and the weather, and I commented that I needed to put a can opener out.
"I'm about to go to a place that might have some, and I'll bring my drill over and drill a hole so you can attach it," he said.
That instantly made me tear up, and I struggled to hide the emotions that I'd been feeling ever since he said he'd brought clothing to put in the box.
"Thank you, that would be amazing," I said, and he went on his way.
Here is a man who wanted for a basic necessity of life and yet he brought what he had and he offered what he could.
It made me feel better and it reminded me that yes, it is too much that all of this stuff exists - but at the same time, how amazing is it that as humans we have a drive to bring what we have and offer what we can even in the midst of wanting. That man could have just taken food, but instead he brought something he wasn't using. Those stamps could have ended up in the trash can. The fabric could have sat on someone's shelf for years until ended up in a landfill. But instead these items were brought to my store and offered freely to be purchased and used by someone else so they wouldn't be wasted.
It's easy to get overwhelmed, but I have to remind myself that people are trying hard to do the right thing. We all have waste and want, no matter our income level. The question is, what are you doing with your waste? I see people every day who bring me stuff that they're not using and I have to remember to focus on the positive aspect that people are trying to be responsible. That gives me hope and makes me feel so much better about the problem of stuff.