Wendy Gordon, General Manager, National Geographic's TheGreenGuide.com
I'm a mom with two college-aged kids. Correction, I've got one son in college and another who just graduated. The older one and I just packed up his dorm room of 4 years of college life and brought most of it home. I'm a "less is best" type, and so set right to work sorting what's to be kept, what's to be replaced and what's to pass along.
Neither one of our kids are overly consumptive, but the new grad could outfit a small village with the commemorative t-shirts he collected from the many social and sporting events he'd attended over 4 years. That hopefully is what's in store for their second life, following our wardrobe purge this week. The local thrift shop is the perfect resting stop for a lot of our clothes, once we've grown out of or beyond them.
The equipment he'd accumulated formed another small mountain. After 4 years, the laptop sorely needed replacing and so for a joint graduation/birthday gift, his dad and I got him a nice new computer. But while one computer had served him well throughout college, he managed to lose several phones and iPods along the way, so one desk drawer was dedicated to the power cords, extra batteries, and parts that come with every new devise. Not sure why, but he used the same drawer to collect empty ink cartridges. This is all good however because we boxed it all up and will take it to the local recycling center. They recover what they can and recycle the rest.
Clothes were packed neatly, winter and summer things separately. We'll wash and put away some things for longer-term storage as his first real job will take him to LA, where he won't need so many heavy things. The son still in college returned most of his textbooks to the university store for resale. The graduate preferred to keep his. That was fine. He had collected some amazing books on art, literature through the ages, philosophy, religion, and history. These possessions seemed like keepers.
He's back in his room at home, a pretty small apartment, but everything we're not giving away manages to fit (more or less). In a month, he'll be heading to California for a job and his first post-college apartment. He's bound to accumulate possessions with time, but I'm hopeful he's picked up just a little bit of his mom's sense of the value of things and the virtue of "enough."