Garbage Day

That’s what every Tuesday morning’s all about in my neighbourhood. So today, as I look out at the recycle bins and compost buckets lining the streets, I’m thinking about the time I purged my basement. We had been living in this house about five years. The contents of our generous-sized downstairs storage room had become an eclectic mix generally comprising three categories: unusable junk that was here when we moved in; outdated items that we no longer wanted; and forgotten boxes that we hadn’t touched since they’d been shoved into a corner on moving day.

That spring, I started clearing things out. When garbage day came around, I fed the first couple of rejects – a broken plastic toddler’s picnic table and an old wooden bifold door – to the curb. It was a promising start to a seemingly straightforward business.

The thing is, I work from home. So I’m here when the big smelly truck comes collecting. And since my office window faces the street, that day I got a front-row view of my bulky trash getting loaded and compacted, destined for the dump.

That’s when I felt my first pangs of landfiller’s remorse.

And that’s why I resolved forthwith (hmm, I can safely say I never thought I’d use the word “forthwith” on this blog) to repurpose as much of our stuff as I could. Over the next few weeks, I posted giveaway ads on Craigslist and the Freecycle Network. I sent e-mails to neighbours, offering them freebies. I had old appliances taken away for scrap metal. I collected smaller items into boxes for donation to charity.

In the end, I saved 100 cubic feet of my junk from landfill. That’s about the equivalent of my entire home office, filled to the ceiling! The discards that found new homes included an old suitcase, an outdated computer, a couple of slab doors. I even got a taker for a battered, broken-down old desk – the thrilled new owner was taking a course on restoring furniture.

If you’re thinking of doing a household cleansing this spring, consider sparing the curb on garbage day. Giveaways definitely count as good deeds. So, I think, does keeping the fill out of landfill.

2 responses to “Garbage Day

  1. In my neighbourhood, unwanted items put out at the curb often disappear – taken home, I imagine, by people who spot them and decide they’re still of some use. When I moved here two and a half years ago, I resolved not to let my basement fill up again, and I’ve mostly done that. My upstairs neighbours are moving this summer, though, and I’m sure I’ll find some stuff to put out in their garage sale.

    Tuesday mornings around here, we put out both the garbage and the recycling. Tuesday evening, I put out the compost to be picked up by a private company that charges $5 a week. (The city is investigating setting up a free service.) As long as discards keep moving out of the house, preferably for some sort of re-use, I’m happy.

  2. I bow to you, Kathe… as I admit that my basement storage room doesn’t look quite so pristine as it did immediately after the big purge. But it’s better organized now for sure, and I’m pretty sure there’s only a minimal number of truly unwanted items!

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