Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
Raise your hand if you consider yourself an environmentalist. Mine is up! But as Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green.”
Being “green” and decluttering often do not feel like they go hand in hand. After all, you might *gasp* throw something away. You might discover that you cannot find another home for an item you no longer want or need. You may have to face up to the fact that you made foolish purchases that you now recognize as being bad for your wallet and bad for the environment.
I was once told that for someone who’s such an aggressive recycler / reuser, I was amazingly good at getting rid of things. Apparently part of how people stay green or reduce their trash / recycling flow is to reduce their output, simply by hanging onto what they have. Most hoarders probably have very little trash, but that doesn’t make them environmentalists!
I strongly encourage you to find an appropriate new home for anything you no longer want that is reusable. Of course I don’t want you to pitch out perfectly good things, but I also want you to realize that there are somethings for which there may not be another home – somethings are too old, too tired, too broken, and too outdated to be of any continued use.
If you tend to save bits and bobs of things because you just know you’ll be able to do something with it later, you may have to accept that you aren’t going to do anything with your pile of treasures, and neither is anyone else. I recently stumbled into this trap myself. We get prescriptions from Target pharmacy, three of them each month. Target has a really cool design for the prescription bottles, and it includes a rubber-like ring around the neck of the bottle, the yellow band in this photo. Each family member has a different color ring. Sounds like a ingenius idea and when both girls were younger and would sometimes take the same cold medicine, it was really helpful. Here’s the negative: as far as I can tell, they aren’t recyclable, Target won’t take them back, and Target won’t give you a bottle without a ring. So I started saving them. Every time I put a bottle into the recycling, I could have tossed the ring into the bin, but I didn’t. Now I have about 24. I have no stinking idea what to do with them, but now it feels more wrong to throw them away because there are so many of them. I could do something with them. Maybe? Perhaps? Heck if I know. What I know is I can’t think of anything to do with them, and they’re cluttering up my drawer.
Or maybe you actually add to your clutter in your efforts to be a good steward of the environment: you grab a perfectly good item out of bulky trash or from a friend’s discard pile and “rescue it” by hauling it home. Then what? Then does it just sit at your house?
In the past year, my recycling has gone up astronomically because I started working at a law firm that did not recycle. Now I bring it all home. (Sometimes, frankly, I can’t believe how much of my life is dedicated to refuse of various sorts.) Anything that’s broken, needs to be sold, has a second chance at life, I bring home. Yes, all of it. But it’s not adding to my clutter, just my workload. The recycling goes directly from the van into the can. I’ve known what I was going to do with every item I brought home before I put it in the van with me: the broken coffee pot went to my daughters’ school for the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) class. The teacher likes for the girls to have real world things to take part – like a fancy, computer-controlled broken coffee pot. The nine 3 ft. by 4 ft. presentation boards were offered up free on Craigslist and snapped up by a man who wanted to make a display for his church. The staples for the stapler than broke were taken to the thrift store, and the stapler itself went into the metal recycling.
It’s great to go those extra steps to make the world a better, less cluttered, and less trashed place, so long as it doesn’t add to your own clutter load.
Today’s Declutter Item
Here is some more obscure clutter. A bunch on old postcards from our USA days. They came to the surface while digging around in Bridget’s clutter last month. I decided to put them in the recycling just like my mat boards yesterday. It is just paper clutter after all.
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast