Sunday, May 17, 2009

Disposing of things responsibly

In the 5 months since our family started this pledge, the part about not buying anything new hasn't been as bad as we thought. What surprises me is that the other part of our pledge, that I thought was a just a tiny part, has proven more difficult. We are trying to dispose of our unwanted items responsibly. I hate to admit that prior to this, decluttering for me involved going through the house with a big trash bag and mercilessly getting rid of what wasn't needed. I freecycled and I saved some things for charity, but when push came to shove, the trash bag was my weapon of choice.
We have changed all that. I'm proud to say that we put only a half bag of trash by the curb each week. Metal and plastic recyclables go to the curbside recycling, and we take paper to the fundraising recycle bin at my daughter's school. Our metal and plastic varies from week to week. Sometimes we have none, sometimes its overflowing. It depends on how busy we are and how hard I'm trying to keep everything fresh and homemade. I am amazed at the volume of paper we discard. Now that I am really, really trying, we have a large load every week. Not just junk mail and the Sunday paper, but magazines, cereal boxes, my daughter's old school work, coloring pages, even down to the tags on our tea bags. I feel good that at least its going somewhere to do be made into something else.
I have actively tried to find good homes for all of our unneeded/unwanted stuff. Most things have been easy to give away on freecycle. Today we brought several boxes of books to Half-Price books. I have a load of misc things to go to charity, another box of various electronics parts to donate to Camp Invention (where kids will take them apart and invent something new), and just one box of such random odds and ends that I honestly don't know how to dispose of it responsibly.
All this sorting and thinking has made my decluttering job drag out far longer than I thought and is alot more work than I thought, but I need to remember that it is a key part to keeping things out of our landfills and avoiding waste.
Who would have thought that the smallest part of the promise would turn out to be the biggest chore?

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