The junk drawer experiment

My house has a junk drawer, somewhere for keys and phone chargers and pens and post-its…and whatever other random things seem like they should be around but don’t have an obvious home.

For the last two years, it’s been almost impossible to close the drawer.

For a while I’d grudgingly clean it every few months, painstakingly sorting through what should stay and what I wanted to throw out.  Invariably, two weeks later it would be overflowing again.

Three months ago I tried something different with the drawer.  I took a plastic bag and dropped everything I didn’t absolutely need from the drawer into the bag.  But I didn’t throw the bag out – I just put it aside.  This way I was comfortable putting a lot more stuff in the bag, instead of leaving things in the drawer that I wasn’t ready to throw out.  I was curious to see how long it took for me to look for something in that bag.

Surprise, surprise: I’m at three months and counting, and I have yet to go look for the bag.  Pretty soon, I’m going to have to admit that I’m ready to throw it and the former contents of the drawer out.

I wonder if there’s any application here to philanthropy – to help us all as givers in our own practice of aparigraha, or non-hoarding? (which is something I talked more about here).  Could you create a vehicle for people (everyday people, not just ultra-high net worth individuals who for lots of reasons create private foundations) to set aside money to see how it feels to live without the money for a while?  Some sort of escrow account that’s practice for giving more, where people could put the money aside with a plan to give but the option to get it back?

How would you structure it?  What would the mechanics be?  Who would you want to have involved – financial institutions, 401(k) providers, non-profits, online giving marketplaces? What would you name it?  How would you spread the word?

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