Overwhelm-recycle or just get rid of stuff already!

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Janette Janette
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Overwhelm-recycle or just get rid of stuff already!

So, as I'm decluttering, I always run into this problem. Today's example involves a box of papers from a job I had ten years ago.  I think, "Should I keep these papers to use the backs for scratch paper? Surely the other side of these papers can be used for something." It seems like a huge waste to just trash three 2-inch binders of paper that have print only on one side. But then I think that if I keep it, I will not be letting go. Which is more important? It's a dilemma. What do you do in such a case? I'm sure I'm overthinking it!
Alexa Alexa
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Re: Overwhelm-recycle or just get rid of stuff already!

Recycle! Will you ever actually use it as scratch paper? Probably not. Keep the binders if you or someone in your family would actually use them. Otherwise donate.

This is part of letting go. Acknowledging what you will actually use vs what you think you should use. As Bea always reminds us, if we don't make zw simple, we won't be zw.
Jay Jay
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Agree! I vote for getting rid of stuff. I'd just recycle, donate, even trash. Don't keep anything you have to make up a reason to use.
Janette Janette
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You have really helped me to reframe my thinking. Thank you!
Audrey Audrey
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Re: Overwhelm-recycle or just get rid of stuff already!

I'd actually like to ask the question again but a little differently...

my husband and i somewhat newlyweds. we've been living with his parents for about a year with our "necessities" out and the rest of our pre-married life stuff in the attic.  We're about to move into our first home (a small apartment) and I'm having trouble deciding which stuff to keep and which stuff to get rid of.  

There are items that I have which, if i didn't own them already, I would not buy today with my new awareness of zero-waste/minimalist lifestyle.  However, if I already HAVE these items, which are in good condition, and i may not use them on a daily basis but here and there... i just have a problem getting rid of them... i feel like it's more wasteful!  I've already paid the money for these things and again, they all have a purpose and are in good condition.  Do i NEED them? No, but I would use them...

so how do i decide?
Wrennerd Wrennerd
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Re: Overwhelm-recycle or just get rid of stuff already!

Audrey, I'd say if you think you will actually use them, go ahead and keep them. If you discover they're not getting used, you can always donate them later.

Along these lines, I've managed to reduce a lot by finding the best or most versatile version of something and donating the rest. For example, I found a cutting board that replaced multiple cutting boards plus an old bread board/pizza peel I used to have.
Janette Janette
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Thank you for asking this question! I think the key lies in how much you use them. If you use them rarely, it might be more useful, and less wasteful, to make them available to someone else. But if you use them enough that they are helpful and not just in your way, I don't think keeping them is wasteful.

Hope that helps!

Janette

On Apr 16, 2012 1:12 PM, "Audrey [via Forum]" <[hidden email]> wrote:
I'd actually like to ask the question again but a little differently...

my husband and i somewhat newlyweds. we've been living with his parents for about a year with our "necessities" out and the rest of our pre-married life stuff in the attic.  We're about to move into our first home (a small apartment) and I'm having trouble deciding which stuff to keep and which stuff to get rid of.  

There are items that I have which, if i didn't own them already, I would not buy today with my new awareness of zero-waste/minimalist lifestyle.  However, if I already HAVE these items, which are in good condition, and i may not use them on a daily basis but here and there... i just have a problem getting rid of them... i feel like it's more wasteful!  I've already paid the money for these things and again, they all have a purpose and are in good condition.  Do i NEED them? No, but I would use them...

so how do i decide?


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Janette Janette
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Another thought: It helps me to think in terms of supply and demand. Is my having this item causing demand for it because someone else needs it more than I do? If I were to give away or sell an item that has already been produced and already exists, would that cause a new one not to be produced? (Less production ultimately results in less waste.)

Janette

On Apr 16, 2012 1:12 PM, "Audrey [via Forum]" <[hidden email]> wrote:
I'd actually like to ask the question again but a little differently...

my husband and i somewhat newlyweds. we've been living with his parents for about a year with our "necessities" out and the rest of our pre-married life stuff in the attic.  We're about to move into our first home (a small apartment) and I'm having trouble deciding which stuff to keep and which stuff to get rid of.  

There are items that I have which, if i didn't own them already, I would not buy today with my new awareness of zero-waste/minimalist lifestyle.  However, if I already HAVE these items, which are in good condition, and i may not use them on a daily basis but here and there... i just have a problem getting rid of them... i feel like it's more wasteful!  I've already paid the money for these things and again, they all have a purpose and are in good condition.  Do i NEED them? No, but I would use them...

so how do i decide?


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Alexa Alexa
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Wennerd's suggestion is good, think about multiple uses and what you think you'll need.

But, I guess I'd go about it differently because you're just now setting up a married life household. Take everything.

Wait, what? Take everything?

Yes, take everything. But only unpack what you think you'll actually use/need.

Leave the rest boxed up, but easily accessible. Better yet, make an inventory of everything that you have out and that you have boxed.

Make a check list. (Don't bother with the daily stuff like coffee mugs and spoons, you'll go crazy, but that extra sauce pan, record if you actually use it or not).

For a few months keep track of what you actually used, both the out stuff and the boxed stuff. If you have to pull something out of storage, probably means you'll use it again. If something you thought you'd use never gets a check by it, try putting it in storage and seeing if you need to pull it back out later.

In about 6 months, you'll know what you are really going to use and what never leaves the storage container. Give away the stored stuff.

But keep any food processor you might have, no really, even if you don't use it now, they're expensive to replace and come in handy with small kids. Most adult foods/meals can be pureed for the baby, cheaper and more zw than jars and jars of baby food.

Also, you may not need them now, but food storage containers are a good one to hold onto if you have the storage space, eventually, you'll probably need them.
BC BC
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On the scratch paper topic, I would say, if you are sure you are going to use it in a reasonable amount of time, keep it.  I keep paper to re-print on the back side, and now that I am back in school and have to print more, I use it.  On the other hand, I like to keep some mailing envelopes around, to re-use, but it seems that we always recieve more than we send.  So every few months, I look at the drawer they are in and get rid of all but two of each size.  I give myself a limit.  That way I can't just horde them forever.  

Alexa, I love your idea about keeping things in boxes till you need them, I makes it easy to figure out what you are using or not.  And what you aren't even missing.  I've always been fairly minimalist and when I got married, I was very careful to only register for things I thought we would actually use regularly, we had room for (live in small cabin), and were durable.  Two and a half years later, I've noticed there are a few things I would not have registered for or purchased.  When the cool collapsible (but plastic) salad spinner broke, I just recycled it and now rinse my lettuce in a big bowl of water and set it on the dish drainer to dry (which I did when I was to lazy to pull out the spinner anyway!).  On the other hand, our Kitchen Aid mixer and blender have been fantastic for doing homemade things that minimize our waste.  We also continue to use the same pizza stone that broke into three pieces at least a year ago, because though it is ugly, it still works and we rarely have to pull it out of the oven.  

If there are things you KNOW that you will not need or use, get rid of them now.  You can donate or sell them, and maybe you have friends who could use them and would really appreciate it. (that's how we got our bread maker).  It's only a waste if it is usable but you throw it in the trash, if you do one of the other options, you're giving it a second life and someone will really appreciate it (and you might make some money off of it).
Spoony Spoony
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In reply to this post by Janette
I have the same problem. My solution is to save some of the item, but to set limits. I have acquired numerous three-ring binders from work over the years. Most are filled with paper, some double-sided, some single sided. I keep the single-sided paper for my printer and recycle the rest. I only kept a small number of the best three-ring binders for my future needs (I use binders to organize my work) and donated or gave away the rest.

It was hard to do this, but if I don't set limits, I will keep too many items, "just in case." I will store the items in my garage and "go shopping" in the garage when I need an item and I will revisit the amount I have set aside in a year to see if I still need as many. Not perfect, but I'm making progress.
Janette Janette
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Re: Overwhelm-recycle or just get rid of stuff already!

Thanks; your comments and insights are very helpful and timely, as I was just getting ready to revisit the box of papers in question. If the paper can't be reused for the printer, I'll recycle it. I very rarely use note paper for lists or notes anymore, so why revive an old habit that no longer serves me? Thanks again!

Janette

On Jun 24, 2013 4:04 PM, "Spoony [via Forum]" <[hidden email]> wrote:
I have the same problem. My solution is to save some of the item, but to set limits. I have acquired numerous three-ring binders from work over the years. Most are filled with paper, some double-sided, some single sided. I keep the single-sided paper for my printer and recycle the rest. I only kept a small number of the best three-ring binders for my future needs (I use binders to organize my work) and donated or gave away the rest.

It was hard to do this, but if I don't set limits, I will keep too many items, "just in case." I will store the items in my garage and "go shopping" in the garage when I need an item and I will revisit the amount I have set aside in a year to see if I still need as many. Not perfect, but I'm making progress.


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Cynthia Cynthia
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I know this is a pretty late reply, but I used to work at a math tutoring center in college and we used scratch paper to write on when we were working on a problem with a student. At the end of the semester, I'd go through my binders and see what could be used as scratch paper and just drop it off at the tutoring center. I think the other departments used scratch paper as well.

So that might be another option for you before recycling it. Always make sure it doesn't have any private information (bank accounts, address, etc.) though.
Catherine Sultana Catherine Sultana
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Lots of helpful approaches here. Thought I would chime in with a thought. When planning to store things consider just how well kept they will be. Damp, dust even seasonal temperature changes all take their toll. Last time I stored things, my rationale was to keep things rather than replacing them at a future unknown date, since they were in good condition and I couldn't justify rebuying. Hence the storage unit was of a certain size and packing boxes of a certain number were kept...and this went on through 5 years of seasonal changes. Eventually the storage unit was emptied. The boxes moved. Then opened. Tupperware was aged and not worth the effort. Microwave oven in too questionable a state to even try to operate. Many boxes were crushed per stacking and the contents broken. File cabinets rusted. All due to postponed decision making or a false economy. Of the remaining boxes, much of it clothes and linens (too old and in poor condition to be salable so given away as rags) or books/papers: majority of which are now just ripe for recycling. If, initally, we had just given away rather than packaging other people might have been able to put them to use. Now I have a load of well packed trash comingled with recycling and very few items of value to keep. Every box needs to be addressed, only now tinged with some guilt and regret for the utter waste.  So, if faced with similar situation today my first thoughts would be what is irreplaceable and what can be given away, expecting and planning for the latter to be the larger pile of the two.
suzannetaft suzannetaft
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You can send your papers at learning center. I am sure they can make good use of it by using it for rough work in maths tutoring classes which requires a lot of rough work.
coldswim coldswim
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In reply to this post by Janette
I've got the same issue with paper. I can't possibly use enough scratch paper to hang onto the  supply of paper coming through here, so I have to recycle it. And I'm even an old-school avid list maker using paper and pen, but I still couldn't make a dent in the paper.  

When I uncluttered, I did the KonMari thing where I put all of one item together from the entire house so I knew what I had. I amassed about 50-60 cheap plastic ballpoint non-refillable pens, although they were all fine point pens, which I prefer, but it was obvious I was a pen-buying addict!

If you think of the life expectancy of one pen as six months give or take, I had about 25 years' worth of pens in my house! They would certainly dry up before I could get around to using them (or I would die before their sell-by date), so I kept three (one upstairs, one downstairs, one in my bag) and donated the rest. As I used up each pen, I replaced it with a nice stainless Rotring refillable ballpoint. I was given a Rotring years ago as a gift and I loved it, but of course I lost it amidst all the drawer clutter since it was before I KonMari'd.  Now I know where each of my Rotrings is and just replace the cartridges.  
RK RK
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In reply to this post by BC
In the UK you can list the item as 'Packaging envelopes - different sizes' on freecycle and for sure someone will take them off you!

I donated

10 hangars
3 plastic garment protectors
3 bottles of shoepolish



only a few days ago to someone locally. I met them at a public train station, not my home.

My email address/username for freecycle does not give away my real name. Always think of safety when meeting people to sell things to.

..I have currently too many packaging and have collected them all into one big bag. No way are they going in the bin. I'll recycle them or give them away on the above website I mentioned.

RK RK
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Re: Overwhelm-recycle or just get rid of stuff already!

Final post for this thread: 2 of 2.

Get creative.

Go and drop off the paper to your local libraries - ask them if they could have a 'recycle tray' somewhere, as people would find it useful to have one. Be the change you want to see in the world.

R