The challenge

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reconciling Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with Throwing Stuff Out to Get on with Life

Long post title, eh?

I am finding that as I get rid of stuff, the amount I am throwing in the trash is probably triple what I am recycling. This is giving me guilt, I must admit as I try to reconcile my need for less stuff with my desire to be good to the planet.

My grandparents generation became hoarders because of the scarcity they experienced in the depression. Their motto became, "don't throw something out that you could use later, because later you might not be able to get it."

My generation has to deal with a world in which the environment is very important to people and we want to be good with our earth. A lot of us heard: "don't throw something out because it's going straight to a landfill and landfills are BAD, BAD, BAD."

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

What does it mean?

Reduce-- obvious. Use less. Don't buy as much stuff. Not retroactive. It can only start as soon as today. No sense having guilt here, since what is done is done. At this point I have not had great success in this arena, though I am trying. (Kind of the point of this blog.)

Re-use. This one gets me in trouble. (I don't think I am the only one.) I don't have a problem loading up my stuff and giving it to charity. I don't have a problem giving baby clothes to friends. I don't have a problem recovering my couch or buying one off of craigslist. I DO have a problem picking up CRAP at garage sales and I do have a problem accepting other people's used items that REALLY should go in the trash, but THEIR guilt is preventing them from dumping it. I DO have a problem with holding on to things that I never intend to fix because I MUST REUSE AT ALL COSTS TO SAVE THE PLANET. But this fills my house with stuff that I don't want to deal with.

What do you do? When you are trying to be green? When you are trying to live a clutter free life?

Two thoughts on this:

First, right back to Reduce. Again, what is bought cannot be undone, but steps can be taken to make a change. And when making purchases, buy high quality items ( new or used) and then take good care of them. I threw away a picture frame tonight with no glass because the glass broke when I had the pictures stacked up on the floor while I procrastinated putting it on the wall. Stupid? Five minutes and a hammer and nail could have saved that waste.

Second. Let go of the flipping guilt. If you aren't going to fix it, freecycle it or trash it and move on. Is it best for the environment to dump it? Probably not. Is it best for the environment of your home and your heart? I think so.

Recycle. Whatever your city accepts, put it in the bin instead of the trash.

And I think simply making the best effort possible is sufficient. But I am still having a time of it. Thoughts?

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