The Important Stuff

By: Sarah Hanauer, Hoosier to Hoosier Community Sale Coordinator

Growing up, I always felt a little deprived. All my friends bought their lunch from school every day, and my mom packed mine. Everyone had cable TV, complete with Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, and I had broadcast, which for a short time had One Saturday Morning. Kids got brand new clothes and backpacks before school started each year, and I had to use old clothes, hand me downs, the same old backpack. Even when I got my first apartment, I was sent with my twin sized bed from home instead of being allowed to buy a full sized bed.

When I was young, I was embarrassed that I didn’t have as much new stuff as my peers. It was cool to have stuff. My mom always said “it’s not necessary.” She was always right – I had more than I needed already, and was just caught up in consumerism. What I’ve come to realize is that the coolest thing is this:

The view from an overlook in San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica. Photo by Sarah Hanauer

The earth. The trees, water, sky, wind, and biodiversity that surround and sustain us. It’s all we really have. It’s what gives us life, breath, and, yes, stuff. It is a necessity, if we humans are going to survive for many centuries to come, to take care of our environment. A big part of that is using less resources, aka stuff.

I joined the Hoosier to Hoosier team in April. My mentors kept telling me how big the sale was, how much work it was, how much awesome stuff we collected that before the sale would have ended up in the landfill, a 55 mile trip from Bloomington. Even though I was prepared, I have still been blown away.

We are on track to surpass last year’s record of 35 tons diverted from the landfill. This means we will likely raise a record amount of money for local nonprofits. However, that’s not the goal. The goal is to spread a culture of reuse and of reducing waste. I’ve certainly realized through sorting donations that I don’t need as much as I thought, and with my own move-out date looming over me, becoming minimalist is becoming more and more attractive.

Next time you step out to purchase something, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it necessary? Do I really need it?
  2. Can I borrow it from a friend or neighbor?
  3. Will I take it with me if I move?
  4. Can I find it used from Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or Craigslist?
  5. Do I have something else that can be repurposed in place of buying it new?

Asking yourself these questions will help you make better decisions and could help you save money!

Come to the Hoosier to Hoosier Sale on August 24 from 8am-3pm. This is also a great time for incoming freshmen to get all their dorm supplies for a low price! You can also check out our Facebook, and Twitter for updates and check out our Pinterest for lots of reuse tips.

If you’re looking to donate items, email We will be collecting until August 17th. However, not every day is an H2H day, and there are tons of other ways to get rid of your stuff so someone else can use it! Follow this link for a document with many options for donating reusable items. We also need volunteers, especially for August!

Through this internship, I am learning to thrive while living sustainably. It makes me feel good, makes me healthier, and will leave the earth in better shape for those who come after me. You have the power to do the same. Less stuff usually means more money in your wallet and more space in your life for things that are truly important. What is important to you?


4 thoughts on “The Important Stuff

  1. You make an inspiring and personal case for really starting to think about what we need, and what we can do without. It can be easy to say or think that we can be more minimalist, or that we are conserving what we have, but also just as easy to forget, even unwillingly. Your story gives us a context we can hold on to and remember.

  2. This is a great post about a really important aspect of living sustainably–less “stuff.” I, too, am getting ready to box up and move to a different apartment. It amazes me how much stuff I have, and how little most of it gets used. Then I wonder, how much environmental damage was done through the process of me acquiring these objects. It’s scary! My grandma used to say “less can be more” and “quality over quantity.” Your post gives a nice context to these sayings, and is a helpful reminder of a fairly easy sustainable change we can all make in our lives.

  3. Hats off to your mother for instilling that principle within you! It is incredible to think how purchases are made through one step processes of “I need it” or “impulse buys”. Your checklist is a great reminder of how we should weight our options when deciding to purchase an item. Whether it’s clothes or furniture–there is so much within our world that can be repurposed.

  4. I think this post does an amazing job of illustrating how the stuff that we buy is not what sustains us, but it is the Earth that we live in that brings us a sustainable life. Having the goal of “spreading a culture of reuse and of reducing waste” is something that individuals should be striving for everyday. If people start taking this look on life, then this mentality will spread from local communities to a national level.

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