When 2016 started, I got a bee in my bonnet: I decided to go through everything I owned, and get rid of whatever I didn’t want anymore. I mean, how am I supposed to save the world with a messy desk??
Yeah, it was the Marie Kondo book, about how “tidying” (i.e., getting rid of all the crap you don’t need or want anymore) changes your life. Which I’m all for. But when push came to shove, this is what made it hard:
It’s not that I’m a hoarder. It’s that I’m an environmentalist.
Technically, I don’t even know what the word “environmentalist” means. (Anyone? Bueller?) I just know that one of my symptoms is that it’s physically painful to send something to a landfill.
I donated a BUNCHA stuff to Housing Works. A BUNCH. Clothes, shoes, books, household hoo-ha, artwork I was sick of looking at. You can see two loads of it in my badly taken pics (I need to work on my “hero” angle.) I also recycled a TON of papers. Anything metal was recycled, too. Plastic went into the bin as well, even though most of that will probably still end up in the Great Pacific Gyre, that continent-sized whirlpool of laundry detergent caps, plastic forks and the microbeads from your facial scrub. And you guys know that I even take my food scraps to the compost girl at the farmers market on Saturdays.
But what the heck do you do with something like THIS:
It’s some sort of duck thing that somebody gave me years ago. It’s made of felt, stuffed with I-don’t-know-what (sand? rice? plastic?) with a magnet glued onto the back of it so you can presumably stick it to…your refrigerator door? I put it in with the cat toys years ago, when Romeo was still around, so it’s too dirty to be donated (as if someone would want it). But the little tag says “Hand Made from the Heart.” And to top it off, it’s anthropomorphic, and clearly on some level I’m still 7 years old, because I can’t put the dang thing into the garbage without its sad eyes giving me nightmares.
Oh, and speaking of plastic forks, I’d been shoving all the ones that came with my food deliveries (god, I’m a hypocrite, aren’t I?) into a shopping bag in a cabinet above the stove for years. A lot of said utensils are wrapped in a paper napkin and then shoved into a little plastic bag along with single-use salt & pepper packets (see Figure A for a visual deconstruction of one such utensil kit).
When I discovered how they were taking over the cabinet, rather than being used in some future/imaginary picnic for needy children, I didn’t know what to do. Now they’re just sitting on my kitchen counter. Waiting for me to find the strength to put them in the “recycling” bin under the sink. (They weren’t even used! They’re not single-use items, they’re “zero-use” items! Aagghghhh!! Help meeee…)
That said, Kondo’ing my apartment allowed me to completely rearrange my bedroom, using my bookshelves to divide it visually into two parts, and creating a bad-ass workspace where I’m writing this now. I love my little light-filled “office,” and my cozy sleeping space lined with books on the other side. It’s still a BIG work in progress, just as is my saving the planet (or at least getting people to use less plastic).
And behold! My secret weapon, which I carry around with me, in case there’s any doubt that I’m a HUGE nerd:
Maybe in my next post I’ll share how I’ve started hounding Chiquita Banana and CVS into giving a hoot. (Remember that campaign? Anybody?) Follow me if you want a heads-up. Meanwhile, feel free to tell me how to find a home for all these damn plastic forks!! Or whatever else you’d like to say in the comments below.
Thanks for reading, peeps!
(And f’it, I’m gonna clean the cat hair off the duck and take it to Housing Works — maybe some crazy hoarder’ll want it for Easter.)