Sometimes when I take a big pile of stuff to Goodwill, I worry about what’s going to happen to it. I don’t worry in a warm-fuzzies sort of way, like “I hope my things find good homes!” or anything. I worry in a “I hope Goodwill won’t throw this stuff out” sort of way. Whenever I shop at Goodwill, I always marvel at the amount of absolute junk there is. They can’t possibly sell all this stuff, can they? People drop things off every day, and sometimes it looks to me like the amount of stuff people drop off is larger than the amount of stuff people actually buy. What do they do with the stuff people dropped off because they didn’t want it but none of the shoppers want it either? I give my stuff to Goodwill because I don’t like throwing it out, and the idea of Goodwill throwing it out instead isn’t much better.
Lately I’ve been giving my apartment an overhaul. I’m gradually replacing my old (inherited, scavenged, particleboard) furniture with some vintage pieces that are more durable and suit my tastes a bit better. I bought a sofa to replace my futon, a credenza to replace my (I use the term loosely) entertainment unit, and a pair of end tables and an ottoman to replace my coffee table. My coffee table was too big for my living room and it didn’t match anymore, but it’s still perfectly good, so I stored it away in a closet for potential future use. I didn’t want my futon or entertainment unit anymore, but since neither of those things would fit in my car, I couldn’t take them to Goodwill by myself.
At my apartment complex, a lot of people put their discarded furniture next to the dumpsters to be hauled away. The discarded furniture sometimes stays there until trash day, but other times it’s gone fairly quickly because someone saw it by the dumpster and decided they wanted it.* When my new old sofa was delivered, I put my futon outside next to the dumpster. I had to carry the frame and mattress out separately (they’re heavy), but I made sure to set the frame back up and put the mattress back on it, to make it look as attractive as possible for potential takers. I left my futon outside at 9 p.m., and it was gone by seven the next morning. When I put my entertainment unit out by the dumpster, it too was gone within hours.
I’m happy about this for several reasons. It makes me feel good that other people think my stuff is worthy of owning. It entertains me to think that a nearby apartment now looks a little like mine used to. But most of all I’m really glad to know that neither Goodwill nor I had to throw my stuff away. I know that I won’t be able to do this with everything I want to get rid of (some things are impossible to display enticingly next to a dumpster), but it makes me feel good to know that at least those two pieces of furniture aren’t going to waste.
* In my apartment in Houston, I was able to make shelves in two of my closets using bookcases and magazine racks I found by the dumpster.