Decluttering and letting go of unwanted items is good for the soul. One man’s trash can indeed be another man’s treasure! Repurposing can be a creative and satisfying endeavor. And recycling is good for the planet. But… there’s a limit to what one person can do. You can’t save the planet single-handedly. Don’t forget to save yourself, too!
Most of my clients are recyclers and donaters. Some are crafty upcyclers. But even so, if I were to put them all in a room there would be a heated debate over what is ACTUALLY recyclable (and donate-able), what is WORTH recycling (and donating), and how BEST to go about it. Local municipalities, too, differ in their capabilities and guidelines. Selling can be good for the pocketbook, but many sellers are disappointed when their stuff isn’t worth what they thought it was, and discouraged when they realize how much time and energy went into the sale.
Here are some examples where trying to be a good citizen (or a thrifty soul) can get in the way of your responsibility to your own health, well-being, and sanity:
- Recycling is SO important to you, and your recycling system is SO complicated, that every room in the house has a mini recycle station, but you never actually get the recyclables collected into one spot and take them away from the house to the recycle center. So they are piling up, inside and out, and attracting pests. (Three cheers for neighborhoods with city-provided and city-serviced personal recycle bins!)
- You want to donate your unwanted items, but you feel the need to find just the perfect charitable organization to take them to. Blankets to the animal shelter…but you don’t feel you have enough saved up yet. Clothing to the women’s shelter…but it’s only open for donations when you are at work. Craft supplies to ??? So they are all piling up, getting in your way, and gathering dust.
- You want to have a garage sale, so you are collecting items in the garage. Now the garage is full of things you don’t want, while your valuable car is parked outside in the elements, because you never actually schedule, and announce, and hold the garage sale. Or, maybe you do have the sale but do not immediately take the leftovers to donate to your favorite non-profit.
- You want to repurpose that chest of drawers in some way. You’re not sure whether you want to make it into a storage bench or what, exactly, but Pinterest is full of ideas! You never get around to deciding, or planning, or getting the tools and supplies to make it happen. So it just sits there cluttering your home, along with umpteen other projects.
I take my cues from my clients. If they are dedicated recyclers, we will by all means recycle… unless their methods are costing too much: too much time and effort making decisions; too much space dedicated to recycling; not the best use of our paid time together.
Sometimes I declare a recycle-free day, often much to their relief. The idea is this: In order to make the biggest difference in your space today, let’s just trash everything (gasp!) because it’s easier and faster. We’ll review and simplify your recycling system so that you don’t end up with another backlog, and you can resume being a good citizen of the planet tomorrow, OK?
On the flip side, I’ve had clients who do not ever recycle or donate in any way. In those cases I say, “Do you mind if I set up recycle and donate bags (or boxes) in addition to trash?” Then I just use them to gather what I personally would rather not see in the trash, and take the bags away to recycle myself.
When a client wants to hang onto something in order to sell it, I ask if they have ever sold on eBay, or on consignment, or held a garage sale before. If it’s something they know how to do, and enjoy doing, more power to them! I will offer local and online selling resources, but I will also strongly encourage them to gift or donate items instead, for the sake of simply being done with it and getting on with their lives.
I recommend picking only one or two places to donate. One of them needs to take just about anything, like Goodwill, to make it a simple chore that is easy to do. My second choice is our local Friends for the Library because I volunteer there weekly and we hold a monthly used book sale.
With repurposing, craft, and fix-it projects I simply ask: Is it really worth doing? Sometimes if just isn’t.
What about you? Are you “taking it too far” and suffering in some way as a result?
Please share with us in the comment section below!
Copyright 2015 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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