So I’ve been trying to balance these daily experiments between what I suppose you could call “inside” and “outside” jobs. I’ve been inward turning for the past couple of days, so today seemed like a good day to focus on an outward task.
If I ever needed any proof of our family’s over-consumption, all I would have to do is go down into the basement and count the shipping boxes. We do have pretty good curbside recycling in our town, but I’ve never been entirely certain if they recycle cardboard. Rather than calling City Hall to find out, my solution has been to drag the cardboard down to our unfinished basement, where we have a small, dank storage room with no good purpose to it, and pile up all the boxes in there.
Here’s the theory: we have a full-blown recycling center just down the road, and I know for a fact that they accept cardboard. All I have to do is store the boxes for a few weeks, then take a monthly trip down the road and drop off all of the cardboard that’s accumulated.
But I don’t.
Instead, I’ve let years go by because, well, that room down the basement has a door, and I never really have to see all that piled up cardboard, except for those brief moments when I open the door and toss in a new addition to the stockpile.
So today, my plan wasn’t to declutter the whole basement–that would take some time. I just needed to clear out the cardboard and get it to the recycling center–and commit to keeping that dank, useless storage room empty, dank and useless.
I managed to haul out just about all of the cardboard; I literally filled the van with flattened and crushed boxes from the very back all the way to the front passenger’s seat. I would have completed the job, but I had no more room in the van, short of strapping boxes to the roof.
I also managed to fill two large trash cans with all the accessories that come in those mail-order boxes–catalogs, tissue, bubble wrap, etc., plus a third can with assorted junk that I cleared out of the garage just so I could get the boxes out the door and into the van.
Today’s de-clutter had a different feel to it. I wasn’t clearing out a space for living, as I’ve done elsewhere in the house. Instead, I was purging–clearing out refuse from a space no one ever sees, but a space that I am always vaguely aware of as a burden of waste and trash. And there’s a certain lightness that comes with clearing out all of that trash. Now when I go downstairs to put in a load of laundry, I don’t have to think about what’s piled up behind that door, and when I’m going to get rid of it.
My next challenge will be the Styrofoam. I have over two dozen polystyrene foam mailing boxes–each one is around a cubic foot in size. Short of making an igloo in the back yard, I have no use for them. The place where I brought our cardboard won’t recycle them, but I suppose with a little research I could find some place that accepted polystyrene….
But I suppose the biggest challenge of all would be to find a way to have fewer of those mailing boxes arriving at my house in the first place!