Being Happy with What I Have

In my period 3 class, a group of four students decided they really liked my fountain pens and wanted to be an official fountain pen club. I had some donated Pilot Varsities that I used as loaners, and I gave them each one. They were thrilled and used them constantly. The problem with the Varisites is that they are disposable, so I knew their fun would run out if I didn’t do something, and I also knew they didn’t have the money for the upfront cost of a good fountain pen.

So I dug around my desk and found four beautiful, refillable fountain pens to give them along with free refill service from my nearly bottomless supply of Pelican black ink. Once again, they were ecstatic, and now other students are eyeing the pens as well.

The result on me was twofold: on the one hand, I was overjoyed to be able to give my students something they could love and care for for a lifetime just by looking through things I already had. On the other hand, I realized that if I had four fountain pens that I could just give away, my consumption had gotten a bit out of control.

The next day, I brought a bag full of school supplies for students to select from. Among them were rulers, books, pencils, pencil led, word cards, (normal) pens, index cards, and stationery items. I also went through my closet and culled one box of clothes and one large trashcan of clothes to donate.

It appeared that despite my big decluttering project of two years ago, I still had a surplus of unused stuff. I’ve given myself a challenge in December to enjoy what I own while getting rid of what I no longer need/enjoy in the most environmentally friendly fashion possible. Here are the results so far:

December 1st:

I donated a Rode directional microphone to the film department at my school. The lead teacher was thrilled. If I end up needing it, I can borrow it.

December 2nd:

I shredded two notebooks of bad creative writing.

I gave away a shoe polish kit that I bought from a former student of mine working on commission to pay for college. I never used it, but a lot of my students keep their shoes nice, and it was high quality stuff. The student who got it was very happy.

December 3rd:

I trashed one pair of shoes that was beyond repair and boxed two pairs that are in good condition for later donation. I can no longer wear those shoes because they cause too much pain with my disability.

December 4th:

I went through four boxes from the garage. Some things I trashed, some I boxed for a future garage sale or donation, and some things were actually things I had been looking for and was on the verge of replacing. I put those in more logical places in my house. Among them was a mini greenhouse that my husband got as a gift from Ikea about four years ago. I’ve been getting into gardening lately, so now I can sprout things despite the cold weather.

December 5th:

I took one backpack in excellent condition to school to donate to the next student who needs one and gave away at least fifty stationery items to students. I still have plenty of stationery at home. It’s a sickness.

I also put three duffel bags (how did I get so many?), a bracelet, and a purse into the donate or sell box.

December 6th:

I donated two books to students, then put some trinkets, an unused Dr. Who poster, two tops, and geode bookends into the donate or sell box.

December 7th:

I recycled four books that were designed to prep students for a test that no longer exists, gave away four spiral notebooks to students, and gave one of the fountain club members who recently had a birthday a nearly full bottle of fountain pen ink.

December 8th:

I gave away a black Lamy Safari fountain pen to a fountain club member whose Pilot fell nib-first and was beyond my repair (though I told her to keep it and learn about repair online). The Lamy is nearly indestructable.

I recycled my notes to study for the linguistics and social science CSETs.

I set aside fifteen ASL DVDs, two ASL dictionaries, and three ASL textbooks for donation or sale.

December 9th:

I gave away two government books, an essay college book, a copy of Candide, and two cookbooks. I set aside three workout books that my body can no longer use for sale or donation. I threw away some junk I’d been hanging onto (like my temporary parking placards. I’ve got a permanent one now).

December 10th:

I went through ten boxes in the garage and found a ton of stuff to donate to students (mostly three-ring binders which I will hang onto for students in need), a lot of trash that once had emotional significance but no longer does, lots of financial records that needed shredding, and about a box full of things to donate. All told, out of ten boxes, I am keeping one box worth of stuff.

December 11th:

I cleaned out the shed, finding one more box worth of things to give to students in need, some posters that I’d been looking for for my classroom, and my party dishes that I’d stashed in there after providing my students breakfast before the AP exam. Those are now washed and put away. I have another box to go through, but my body needed a break from the work (I also filled two trash bins full of weeds and out-of-control ivy from gardening this morning), so I’ll have to deal with that one later. All told, I emptied about six boxes of stuff.


I think I mentioned before that I grew up in a hoarding environment. Getting rid of stuff has never been particularly easy for me, which is why I was so proud of myself when I did my big decluttering project before. This time I am even more proud because it was easy to get rid of what I no longer used.

Here’s something distressing: much of what I went through was stuff I brought into my marriage — some of it had been in the same boxes from when my husband and I first moved in together ten years ago. Getting rid of those things has felt incredibly freeing. I could go on, but I think I’ll keep some ideas for another post.

It’s clear for now that I do not need to buy anything but food and entertainment for quite some time.


This entry was posted in Decluttering, Environmentalism, Finances, Fountain Pens and Refillable Pens, Personal, Plastic-Free Living, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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