Scheduling a Diabetes Clothesline pickup is a great incentive for spring cleaning. It had been months since the recycling donation service last dropped by our door. Two weeks ago, I finally gave them a call and learned that a pickup could be scheduled for June 2nd. Fantastic.
Since then, I have been in a frenzy of recycling and disposal. Starting with the clothes closets is easy. Clothes which haven’t been used in the past two years should go, right? Not quite. Since I have retired, I have bought few clothes and many things I wore in the past are “fashionable” again, if only by my standards. And blouses and tops, long-lost and forgotten, reappear, perfectly usable today. Even with these second thoughts, it is not hard to set aside a pile of surplus clothing.
Then on to the drawers. Pulling them out and going through them is a voyage of discovery. So that’s where those old glasses are; I knew they had to be somewhere. But do I really think that I will ever use those sing-song tapes, still in their original wrapping? Tape technology is obsolete. Does that mean that someone can still use them, or are tapes best sent to the garbage?
Sorting though the linen closet was sobering. When was it that these sheets and towels became so grungy and decrepit? How many years ago did I buy them? It’s clearly time for renewal. Are these old ones reusable? Even if only for the cloth?
The kitchen? “Small kitchenware” has an elastic definition. Old blackened Le Creuset cookware, heavy and neglected, is too good (and too expensive today) to jettison, but someone else can perhaps use it. And all those cookie sheets and muffin tins I bought in anticipation of taking up baking? Many still have their labels on them. A box full of cutlery from former Christmas parties brings back memories but there will never again be such large parties and it’s time to let go.
Clearing the kitchen reveals much that cannot go to the Clothesline. How does one dispose of litres of cooking oils which have languished in the back corners of the cupboard for years? Bury them? Pour them into plastic bags and put them in the green bin? Add them to the pile for a potential dump run? And how is it that we have accumulated so many batteries and light bulbs? Some may have mercury in them; all are probably toxic waste. Collecting them in one spot is fine. It’s time to dispose of the collection.
My daughter-in-law said that she needed terra-cotta pots with holes in them for her balcony. She needs pots? I have dozens of pots in my basement: tiny ones left over from a short-lived plan to raise plants from seedlings, junior sized ones ideal for inside ceramic containers, medium and very large ones, too. She can have them all. I once had a carpenter build me a planting counter using drawers from an old bedroom bureau. At the time, I was rather proud of this example of our ability to recycle and reuse. Alas, that was probably 15 years ago. Now the counter top is cluttered with pots and plates, old tools and trays, broken lanterns, string and labels, envelopes of dried out garden seeds, bags of planting soil and fertilizers. And the drawers are full of odds and ends I have saved for some future purpose. For what purpose? When? My father may have been able to recycle what he saved, but I haven’t looked in the drawers for years.
The need to get the pots led to a total cleanup of our basement for the first time in I don’t know how long. With the help of a very congenial young man who had done some painting around the house, we cleared the basement, emptied filing cabinets and boxes, threw out everything set aside and saved for decades, much of it damp and mouldy. Five days later, he and his friend filled a 16-cubic-foot rented van chock-full for a dump run. The best part was that his friend was an athlete. He took the 25-year-old punching bag, chains and the remaining weights for himself. He was right; they had hardly ever been used.
In the midst of all this activity, I heard a CBC program on spring cleaning. The guest was describing how recycling services can define people from what they donate, and how such services dispose of nearly 50% of all donations as garbage. That’s a scary thought. Lest we fall below the appropriate standard, I gathered up several boxes of books, making sure to include some good hard-backed novels and some popular paperbacks which will sell easily. That should do it.