In my last decade working as a senior move manager, I’ve helped hundreds of clients empty out their homes, or the homes of their parents. I’ve seen a lot of items get donated to charity. I’ve seen a lot of items sold at estate sales. I’ve seen a lot of items taken to the recycle center. And, I’ve seen a lot of items taken to the landfill.
Our goal is always to reduce as much items as possible the amount of items going to the trash, but sometimes junk is just simply JUNK and needs to be thrown out. One of the things I see consistently in my clients’ homes are personalized items (“Happy 40th Anniversary, Bernice and Bill”), framed awards and certificates, plaques and trophies. When it’s time for my clients to downsize and keep only the items that are most valuable to them are their framed certificates and plaques from every board, organization and business they’ve served going to make the cut? Perhaps some will, but many won’t.
And then what happens to them? Do their children want them? Grandchildren? Chances are, they will not. Recycling these items can be difficult, and only the most motivated individuals will seek out ways to do this. More often than not, they end up going into the trash. Which then goes into the landfill, where these personalized items lay for tens or hundreds or thousands of years. It’s an ugly truth, but a truth nonetheless.
This has given me an entirely new perspective on each and every trophy and award I see – even at the time it is being awarded. I’ll have to admit, the recognition is nice, but I can’t help but think “are the recipients grandchildren going to treasure that object some day?” And I know that the answer is no.