A Glass of Frustration

Waste bins in Toronto for municipal pick-up - ...

Waste bins in Toronto for municipal pick-up – the green bin is for organic waste (compost) (picked up weekly), the grey bin is for garbage (picked up bi-weekly) and the blue bin is for recycling (all recyclables) (picked up bi-weekly). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

0049-got_coffee_3-3-1Hello everybody,

Dusty’s feeling a little frustrated now. I just found out that in the metropolis I live in they’re changing who’s taking care of waste management. They’re the same people who also take care of the recycling program. They’re thinking of making a major change next year. They want to stop taking glass in with the other recycling materials. We have a three bin recycling program. One bin is for general garbage; another is for general recyclables; and the third is for organic wastes including kitchen and garden waste. The general recyclables include — at least for the moment — glass, metal, paper, cardboard, and plastic. They are most of the traditional recyclable materials in western cities.

The new company however says that broken glass contaminates all the other recyclables. That is why they want to stop collecting glass in the bin. They want to just collect glass in centralized bins at grocery stores and recycling centres. They’re saying that in other cities people have no problem with taking the glass products to the centralized collection centres. On the news in fact they did interviews with people in the cities. Everyone seemed to be happy with the system — taking the jars and bottles to the depots. Of course these were all people who were able to get the depot with no problem. They didn’t interview people who had problems with getting to a depot.

Recycle for Greater Manchester

Recycle for Greater Manchester (Photo credit: The Laird of Oldham)

What of people who had no cars? How are they to get bottles and jars to the depots? There are many people who don’t have cars in this world today. Some by choice; some for economic reasons; some for health reasons; and some for legal reasons. We encourage people to get out of their cars and take public transit. This means people are giving up their cars because they don’t need them. For others cars are not an option. How are they to get their recycling to a depot? Do we expect them to take their recycling on the bus? Essentially are they expected to wash their garbage put it in a bag and take it on public transit to the depot whether it is at a recycling station by a grocery store or in some industrial park?

This is why Dusty is frustrated.

It is a step backward. Many people who are currently recycling their jars and bottles will simply say “No!”. They will begin simply placing their jars and bottles in with the general trash, or mix it with the other recyclables. This will be a problem for the recycling company when they try to separate it.

Recycle-get this...

Recycle-get this… (Photo credit: practicalowl)

The secret to making recycling commonplace for the average householder is to make it simple and easy to do. It is already a lot to ask people to divide their garbage into three categories. Things are simplified by having three large bins to throw it into — but the more things that are exceptions and have to be taken to a transfer station in some industrial park, the less people are apt to comply.

Like I said, this is why Dusty is frustrated.

Bye for now!

D. Cluttermouse.

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Boxes Little Boxes


I my quest to go through all my stored clutter “One box at a time” I have a new approach to try. I want to get away from the stacks of cardboard boxes. I would like to start using plastic bins and crates.

This idea is many-fold. One, cardboard deteriorates and gives off paper dust into the air which does not help for a healthy environment. This deterioration also means that the boxes collapse and do a poorer and poorer job at protecting their contents. The cardboard boxes also add to a more cluttered appearance. The plastic bins will also with luck protect what I value, but need still to store.

The very action of switching over a box at a time from cardboard to plastic gives me a chance to go through all of my possessions and hard as it is, perhaps get rid of some — whether by donation, selling, recycling, reusing… using or trashing. With luck I can reduce the space taken and number of containers. Optimistically perhaps by 2:1 cutting 2 cardboard boxes down to 1 plastic bin of comparable size — and perhaps the plastic bins will take less room. Pessimistically perhaps it will only be 1:1 meaning 1 cardboard box goes into 1 plastic bin. But I will have checked on what I own and things will be in better order.

I do believe it will be closer to 2:1 —  maybe 4:3? I hope that at least I’ll be able to control where things are and know where they are.

But it will have to be one box at a time… or two, hoping to cut them down to one.

Ahhh, but where can I get very inexpensive bins? They need to be sturdy, protective, and I need to be able to count on getting more of them as I progress because I want to be able to stack them. I rather like the sort with the interlocking lids which are hinged so that you open them without removing the lids. But I suspect they cost a lot. I am using a lot of bankers’ boxes… you know the folding file boxes that offices use as well as a certain number of moving boxes.

I want to make a start by collecting all of my tools into one bin. I want to put hobby supplies into another one or two. Then I want to keep those bins in an easily accessed location. Another bin or two will be used for storing out of season clothing, linens, and fabric.

So, do you have any ideas?

Two Types of Clutter Kickers?

Reading reviews of “kick the clutter — Clear Out Excess Stuff Without Losing What You Love” by Ellen Phillips has made me wonder if there is a fundamental difference in viewpoint between two sorts of people who are actually out to reorganize the clutter of their life. There are those who believe in making fairly drastic cuts in what is owned and those who are looking to keep much of it.

What got me thinking that way was in how a few reviewers looked at her book. They seemed to only see where the author was looking at ways to organize what a person was keeping and setting that up so that it was in the least cluttered and most useful way possible. The reviewers seemed to downplay to the point of glossing over the parts of the book which gave suggestions on downsizing and making the difficult decision for many to let go of some things.

The author, Ellen Phillips, does have compassion for those who see value in things that many would find valueless and would simply say “chuck it”. She says if it has great meaning to you or value to you, even if it doesn’t to anyone else, it is not trash. She does however speak of finding ways to store it to treat with the value you ascribe to it.

Ellen Phillips also does give some advice on figuring out just how much value a person might have for something and sets out worksheets so that a person might give personal priorities. Phillips also does this in light of the person reading the book actually living with other people. That means that one family member’s trash is another’s treasure. This has to be taken into account of when coping with clutter.

It also does not work if not everyone in the household is involved in kicking the clutter in the household.

Phillips is also big on giving hints and tips in order to keep clutter from taking over after you have worked so very hard to clear out the excess and reclaim your environment.

I personally think it is healthy to take a good hard look at what you own and to think on how much value you place on various possessions and for that matter whether they possess you.

I know for some of us, we become emotionally attached to possessions and thus it becomes an issue of anxiety to even consider getting rid of them. For some of us, some counselling is probably necessary to cope with downsizing or decluttering. I think that is beyond the scope of the book, but it is something that could be done after, before or during working through that book.

I do think that the worksheets that are provided throughout the book and the 5 minute fixes are very valuable for people who become overwhelmed at the thought of clearing out the clutter. For those of us with emotional issues attached with the clutter, this is very important and allows for progress to be made even before possible progress might be made with the emotional issues.

I figure that there are many things I “can” do which will help before I hit the things that I will have problems doing and that those things that I can do will make my environment healthier and perhaps give me greater strength and resilience for the jobs ahead.

Perhaps for some it is a matter simply of setting your mind to it and “trashing” the surplus. But I think that if it were that simple for others, it would have already been done. It is like losing weight or quiting smoking. If it were simply done, would there be so many people who were having problems doing it?

~ Dusty
D Cluttermouse.