Saturday, June 26, 2010

Clutter: The cost of conservation?

Going Green Mama is the thrust of last-minute decluttering for a party this morning. Here's a recycled post from my blog. I apologize, but enjoy!

Yesterday, as I was taking my trash out, I noted that for the first time, we only needed to leave one can at the curb.That is huge, given that I had company over the weekend and that we have a little one in diapers (who happens to be at home this week, generating even more trash).

What made the difference? Recycling.

Sure, I’ve done curbside recycling for years, but the difference is now that I’ve stepped it up beyond the cans, newspapers and plastic soda bottles I used to save. I’ve recently located a drop-off point close to my home where I can get rid of old magazines that I can’t take to the hospital, office papers that have been reused as coloring sheets, cardboard boxes and even the paperboard that wraps all of those food items that require a little less preparation after a busy day at work. I couldn’t believe the difference it made.

The difference is also in my home, I’m sorry to admit. I have a stack of cardboard boxes, flattened, and three bags of paper that I’m trying to keep the toddler out of before my next run.

I also have diaper-size boxes of hand-me-downs, assigned to various people and organizations, and boxes of things that I’m hanging on to so I can donate the next time I’m at Fresh Start.

And while I’m not a Martha Stewart by nature, I’m beginning to wonder: Have our homes, in our attempt to be more environmentally aware, become the new landfills? Is clutter the cost of conservation and recycling?

11 comments:

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

I definitely have this problem, and everytime I finally get rid of a pile, another one grows. I've just accepted it, keep it all in my bedroom, and keep the door shut whenever company's over.

Chile said...

Yep, same here. I just try to keep the piles contained and moving out. Since I have to go in to the city for the CSA weekly, I take all my recycling to drop off at a neighborhood recycling center. Donations go then as well.

The bigger problem is keeping stuff that can be re-used instead of throwing it away or recycling. That clutter keeps piling up!

ROFL! My word to verify is ortoss - seems completely appropriate for this post!

Rebecca The Greeniac said...

I used to have this problem, but I've been slowly altering my purchasing habits so that I don't create so many piles of stuff. I just don't buy prepackaged food any more or frozen stuff, and I try to avoid anything that comes in a cardboard box or plastic bag. I mostly buy from the bulk food and produce aisles and I bring my own containers.

And in terms of other stuff... I've had to learn to focus on using/fixing what I have rather than going out and buying something new each time it might be convenient. When you do that, you end up with much less stuff that needs to find a new home.

Simply Authentic said...

It's amazing how little trash you can really produce when you're conscious of it. When I lived by myself back in Oregon and had the capacity to recycle just about everything (although not able to compost), I produce one lil tiny bag of trash each week. Even now that I'm married and we're unable to recycle as much here in Louisiana, we still have one bag of trash in our pick up can and a full recycling box. It's always amazing to me that our neighbors have overflowing trashbins and piles next to their cans too!

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

We don't have curbside recycling, just the county center. I have taken it upon myself to recycle the waste from my office (although many people still throw so much in the trash cans). I'm not quite sure how I manage this since I walk to work. Actually, recyclables are stored there + I have an agreement with admin. that if stored out of the way, I will collect them once a month.

Like Rebecca, I have changed my purchasing habits to minimize even recyclable waste, focusing much more on the first "R". Additionally, a huge reduction was to register on all the "no mail" lists so we no longer get all the To Resident mailings + as soon as I get a catalog I don't want, I'm on the phone canceling it. Newspapers (although we don't subscribe to any) get thrown in the compost. Ultimately we generate very little personal waste.

The Mom said...

Funny, I just filled up the back of the minivan, without seats, with our recycling. Hubby has a computer repair business that he runs out of the house, so we have boxes in spades. Many go out to the gardens for mulch or weed suppression, but there are just too many to use them all.

Kathryn Grace said...

Family and friends always looked askance at my accumulation of washed cans and bottles on the kitchen cupboards when my children were growing up. I didn't carry them downstairs to the recycling box every day, so the answer to your question may be yes. I didn't have room upstairs to pop everything into a tidy storage bin. We stored most of the stuff in the basement.

Back then, we subscribed to two daily newspapers, several magazines, and lots of catalogs. Those tended to pile up in wire racks on the back porch, just off the kitchen and well in sight of visitors, so again, clutter.

Thankfully, San Francisco has curbside recycling, so we don't have to accumulate as much, but we now have a waste bin, a recycling container and a compost container in our kitchen.

Best practice for eliminating that clutter is still the most difficult for me: Reduce. Buy less! Takes constant vigilance.

Reuse comes in second, but then you have to have a good storage system for all the stuff your going to reuse that you can't use today or that you are holding against some future project or other.

Melissa @ HerGreenLife said...

Oh, yes, I can relate. I save glass jars. When my cabinets started overflowing, I boxed them up and stored them in the basement. I was beginning to think that I should just recycle all of them (well, the non-official canning jars, anyway), when I got motivated to organize all of my bulk food sitting around in plastic bags. Now I have a bunch of extra plastic bags, so I'm increasing my efforts to avoid acquiring more of those!

Condo Blues said...

When clutter starts to pile up, that's my sign that I need to take things to the recycling center, put things in the correct bin for recycling/donation, etc. I really hate clutter so when it starts to pile up, it's time to deal with it pronto!

Rosa said...

It sort of is. if you get really hardcore, you can stop most of the inflow, and that helps. It also helps to get into a routine - I do donation dropoff and dinner out with a mom friend about every other week, and that keeps that pile manageable.

We only have recycling pickup twice a week and by the end of two weeks I have usually 6-10 grocery bags of recycling (we get a ton of junkmail I haven't been able to stop, plus we walk around the neighborhood picking up trash and recyclables at least once a week.)

Anonymous said...

The thing is that this is another society-wide problem that we're trying to solve on our own. For instance, because I can buy milk in returnable jars, I usually only have one sitting around at a time. But the beer bottles, which could easily be sterilized and reused, get recycled instead - so they add up, until recycling day comes around.

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