Every once in a while, you come across a book that’s just disruptive. You can’t skim through that particular book and walk away unchanged. That’s how More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity by Jeff Shinabarger was for me. It’s the type of book that challenges your presumptions about what it means to have “enough.” In fact, the word “enough” becomes a major focus of the book. What is enough money, enough time, enough stuff… enough, enough enough.
There are plenty of sobering facts in the book. Take, for example, the fact that my family is in the top 3 percent of the richest people in the world. “That can’t be right,” I think. “I drive a minivan, not a Ferrari.” ' But, I have a vehicle to drive. That’s how far off my perception is. Just having a vehicle makes me incredibly wealthy in terms of the world’s population. Having a job makes me wealthy. A place to live. And on and on.
This book isn’t a guilt trip, though. It’s about recognizing what we have so that we can feel free in our giving. I have stuff just sitting around my house that I’m not even using, and I could give it away. It may be unimportant to me, but it would matter to someone else.
There’s the whole saying about one man’s junk and another’s treasure, but Shinabarger and a number of other creative individuals have found a way to make that statement even truer. GiftCardGiver is a charity that runs on the donation of gift cards. We’re not talking about brand new gift cards with $50 or $100 on them. We’re talking about cards that have been used and still have a little bit of cash on them.
I mean, really, who’s going to use that last $5.48 on an Applebee’s card or $7 on a Home Depot card? By donating those cards to the website, the organization can put that money to use.
And the examples go on and on. There’s an organization that uses discarded billboard signs (the vinyl signs) and re-purposes the material to make it into bags and wallets. Another organization uses discarded soap from hotel rooms, melts them down, and reforms them for citizens in Africa who do not have regular access to proper sanitation.
These ideas are great on a big, global scale, but we have the opportunity to make a difference on a personal level in our own communities, as well.
I’m excited about using the excess in my life to make a difference in someone else’s life.