Refusal & Consent: A Brief Social Manifesto for the Responsible Divestment of Material Resources

Refusal & Consent

A brief social manifesto for the responsible divestment of material resources


How to take personal responsibility for your unwanted stuff in six easy steps.

ONE: We are each responsible for the remaining product lifecycle of the things we allow into our lives – and for everything purchased new, we are directly accountable for the upstream production impacts, as well (resource depletion, carbon emissions, and labor violations included).

TWO: When we choose to divest of our stuff, we are 100% responsible for the outcome of each choice.

THREE: It takes work to find someone who can/will make use of things that we don’t need/no longer want. In this age of dwindling resources and havoc-wreaking carbon emissions, choosing not to collaboratively transfer resources is an abdication of social responsibility.

FOUR: Dumping stuff on other people is non-consensual. Just because you want to get rid of something doesn’t mean that someone else wants to receive it. This includes but is not limited to secondhand donations, family mementos, product packaging and in some cases, ‘gifts.’

FIVE: The transfer of stuff is an exchange between people. Communication is critical.

SIX: Some people will say ‘no’ to your gift of stuff. This is their prerogative. If they say ‘no,’ listen to them. Respect their boundaries. Allow them agency. As in other realms of interpersonal conduct, consent is sexy!

WHOOPS! SEVEN: To avoid throwing away useful things, our responsibility rests upstream and in advance – with thoughtful, incremental decisions about whether to allow these things into our lives in the first place.