I’m making this the year of the Circle of Sustainability, and I’m on a mission to remind people that eco-friendly living is about more than what we buy. Let me illustrate how you can thoughtfully throw away your stuff with a little story about doors.
Sustainability is circular. It revolves around the idea not only that we buy more intentionally, but also that we use what we have longer and more purposefully and that we pass things on or throw things away thoughtfully as well. The goal is to keep resources moving in a circle, reusing them again and again, instead of extracting new resources only to throw things in the trash after limited use.
Moreover, small shifts we make to live more aligned with the Circle of Sustainability don’t have to be hard or burdensome. In many cases, they make life better. Let me illustrate this with a story about the doors in our house.
A while back, we decided to replace all the doors in our house. We didn’t love how they looked, and we wanted something a bit more sturdy and substantial in a new style. It sounded like a simple enough project to unscrew the hinges, replace the doors with something new, and refresh our space. Not so much.
We came to learn that replacing doors can be a whole process. We hired a contractor, and they helped us through the transition. We are not exactly handy people.
They ordered a large dumpster to our driveway for all the construction waste and had every intention of throwing all twenty or so old doors in the dumpster. Although they weren’t our style, the doors were plenty functional. Surely they could have a second life somewhere new, right?
Finding new life for old doors
I asked the contractors to set the doors in our garage instead of throwing them away. I measured each one and posted them all on Facebook Marketplace.
I could have sold the doors on Facebook Marketplace. But because the doors prevented us from moving our cars into the garage, I didn’t want them to hang around too long. With circularity and speed as my motivators, I posted the doors to Facebook Marketplace for free.
A few different people reached out to inquire about the doors shortly after I posted them. They each wanted some of the doors and had specific sizes in mind. Over several days, they stopped by and picked up whichever doors they needed and could fit in (or on) their vehicle. One person brought a blanket and tied a few doors to the top of her car, returning two more times for more doors to carry home in the same manner.
I was thrilled to help her get the doors tied up tightly and ready to find a new home. She was happy to have new doors for free! And I was just as excited not to watch all those doors end up in a dumpster!
Posting for free finds more potential recipients
Had I posted the doors on Facebook Marketplace for a fee, I may have had trouble finding buyers, especially on a tight timeline. But I’ve found that there are so many more people who are interested in grabbing something (especially large and hard-to-move items) when they are free, even if the alternative is just a few dollars.
I think part of it is a psychological win of getting something for nothing. No matter what drives each of us though, utilizing an active selling platform like Facebook Marketplace to give items away for free is a simple way to continue the Circle of Sustainability.
Thoughtfully throw away your stuff
It took me a bit more work to get the doors into the hands of their new owners than just tossing them into the dumpster. I had to post photos on Facebook, respond to a few inquiries, and be available to help people when they arrived to take the doors from my garage. (Note: I made sure to follow some best practices for safety given that strangers were showing up at my house.)
But for me, it was totally worth it! And the extra work was marginal. Connecting and sharing our abundance with our neighbors is not only good for the planet, but it’s also rewarding for us.
Save money by giving away your stuff
In my case, I paid a flat fee for the dumpster. But waste is often charged by weight or volume, so using Facebook Marketplace to give away things for free (especially large or heavy items) when you can’t sell them on your desired timeline could save you money on disposal fees. It certainly beats paying a junk hauling company to take things away.
I love offering things up on Facebook Marketplace, Buy Nothing, or similar direct gifting platforms because I have more confidence that the items will be used. There are charitable services that will take (and sometimes even pick up) your large items for donation, but it’s much less likely they will be resold and not thrown away than if you can get them directly into the hands of a neighbor who can use them.
Have you given away anything on Facebook Marketplace for free? Did it work well for you? Any tips for others?
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Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.
You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.