In the process of merging our belongings, gathered over 37 years of married life spent moving from state to state with two children, with those of my in-laws, gathered over nearly 70 years spent moving from country to state to country to state with two children, we have become masters of toss toss toss. “Toss”, however, has a different meaning today than it used to, at least in my lexicon. Almost everything that has left our possession has gone to someone else or has been recycled. We have the most amazing transfer station in our tiny town. Very little refuse actually goes into the “smasher” (a totally amazingly cool machine that crunches our bags of trash while we watch).
There is a secondhand shop, where any useable items find a home…furniture, exercise machines, baby paraphernalia, pots and pans and flatware…anything that the shop’s proprietor thinks someone else might want. Next door to the shop is the returnables area, the proceeds of which are donated to a different local organization every month. There is a place for those plastic pots our baby garden plants inhabit before we plant them (to be reused by small nurseries and gardeners), a place for egg cartons (for the chicken farmers to use), a bin for ink cartridges and another for coupons. The most confusing area is next…we sort our own plastic and paper, with different bins for different types of plastic. At first, we had to pester the orange-clad town employees as to what went where…now there is a string of sample items hung over each bin to help guide you to the proper bin. Paper is less complicated, as most things go into the Mixed Paper bin, and corrugated cardboard is easy to spot.
Next are the specialty areas arranged around the property…a bin for electronics and small appliances, areas for rigid plastics, metals, wood, green clippings, brown, i.e., leaves, a compost container and, finally, for random branches and brush.
Needless to say, a trip to the transfer station can take some time…AND it is really helpful to have a pick-up truck (for which I sacrificed my sporty little convertible…worth it, but…sigh…) and a couple of sets of strong arms and nimble minds. But it is also oddly heartening and inspiring. Very little goes to waste. It also saves our little town a LOT of money, money that we taxpayers must otherwise provide. Win-win.
We also have an extremely donor-friendly Goodwill nearby …drive up, fill a bin, drive off…feel righteous.
What we don’t have here is FreeCycle, and Craigslist has one list for the whole state…I miss both lists a lot. When we moved a year and a half ago, I made liberal use of FreeCycle and was amazed at what other people were seeking…my giveaways were another’s treasures. I also used Craigslist a number of times, looking only in areas close to home. Here, not much is close to home.
The bottom line is that it takes a lot of effort to be as green as possible, but when I find the time and the energy, it makes me feel good…silly, maybe, but good is good!