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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Green Living is not Clean Living

I'm a treehugger. And I'm frugal. Both of these tendencies mean that I rarely throw anything away. I'm getting better at the actual purging...stuff *does* eventually leave my house. But even so, the collecting of things creates a number of problem areas in my house in the meantime. I know that this is preferable (to my, and my husband's, sensibilities and values) to the alternative of just blindly throwing everything into one general trash receptacle (and therefore landfill), but even so...I'm starting to feel a bit like a hoarder.

For example:

At any given time, there are piles of fabric, reusable shopping bags either thrown on the floor in the pantry (immediately following grocery-unloading) or stuffed into 1-3 master bags and waiting by the front door, to be put back into the van for their next use. And from those times when I've forgotten to take my bags into the store or have run out, I have a large bag in the basement (hanging from my laundry sorter, for reasons that once upon a time probably made sense to me) stuffed with other, recyclable, plastic bags. Eventually these get taken to the grocery store and shoved into the recycle bin there. So, I'm overrun with bags of several varieties.

We garden. Which means that we compost. Which means that there is a large bowl on the kitchen counter for plant-based food scraps. It's ugly. And often smelly. And in particularly hot weather, attracts flies. Lovely addition to our kitchen.

My BIL has a hobby farm and an obscenely large flock of laying hens. He provides us with fresh eggs, which makes him one of my most cherished relatives. :) To encourage his continued generosity, I never throw away egg cartons. Therefore, the top of my fridge is usually buried under stacks of egg cartons, awaiting our next visit with him.

We recycle the usual suspects through our municipal pickup program. This means that we have a number of bins out back by the trash cans, overflowing with various plastics, glass, and metals. This *also* means that we usually have a number of these items sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting for someone to carry them out. So, empty container clutter on counters.

Also picked up by the municipal guys is cardboard. It's amazing how much cardboard we go through. We have a mountain of flattened boxes blocking the bicycle racks in the basement. We often forget (since it's a new addition to the recycling program) to take the cardboard out for the biweekly pickup, so that mountain is often pretty big.

We recycle paper in two ways. Matte paper (coloring book pages, old invoices, newspapers) go into a box near the woodburning stove. Glossy paper (magazines, junk mail) goes into a separate box over by my laundry sorter (apparently my center of operations) to be taken to the Abitibi bin behind the church.

We also *intend* to recycle batteries. Unfortunately, the last two places where I used to take batteries for donation have stopped accepting them. Which means that I have a shelf in the basement overflowing with dead batteries. Also old/scratched/unwanted CDs and DVDs. (I *did* finally close my eyes and pitch all of the old floppy disks, but obviously that still haunts me a bit.)

We have a corner of the basement--okay, TWO corners of the basement--cluttered with outdated and/or broken computer equipment. Apparently this stuff is a no-no to just pitch, but until we figure out how/where to dispose of these things, we are tripping over them.

And that's just the daily stuff. It does not include one-time purges like boxes & bags of outgrown clothing, discarded toys, weeded-out books, and other things destined for donation bins at the library and local charities.

In other words, even when my house is clean, it's cluttered. Because I'm trying to "do right". There are days when I wonder if it would be better to...

Nah. I don't think I could deal with the guilt. I guess I'll deal with the mess.


  1. I love our recycling program up here! No separating, it all goes in one bin and it is picked up weekly. I do need to pick up a bin to put on the back door to collect the stuff that needs to go out. The counter container clutter makes me batty!

  2. I feel ya' Heaz!

    Our recycling recently changed to the large bin pickup too === no sorting is heaven, as is the 96 gallon size of the toter. :)

    Are there any IKEA stores near you? They have battery recycling bins right at their doors.

    Our house is too small to let much collect. I have to use it now or send it on -- to recycling, a friend who can use it, or to goodwill, typically. We have precious little storage space and it has to be guarded against the eagerness of hoarding. ;)

  3. I don't know if this is all Ikeas or just my local one, but I tried a few weeks ago only to find that they no longer take batteries. Curses! The bag of dead ones is still in the van...maybe someday soon one of my errands will take me past Batteries Plus. The problem with so much of what we recycle is that it requires separate trips...and I hate making special trips if I don't have any other reason to be going that direction already, so everything accumulates. Blah. At least the municipal recycling is unsorted, but we still keep the cardboard separate so it doesn't get nasty from rain, etc.