When I was still teaching high school English, one of my kids came in one day drinking some apple juice from a reusable water bottle emblazoned with the school's mascot. I was horrified to see the kid throw the entire container (including a good 6 ounces of juice) into the trash can. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he didn't want any more of the juice.
Then I pointed out to him that the water bottle wasn't made to be disposable. I believe what followed was something of a lecture about the importance of taking care of both our things and our planet.
The kid was unimpressed.
Guess who fished the water bottle out of the trash can?
And, guess who still has it cluttering up one of her kitchen cabinets?
Therein lies one of the problems with being frugal, environmentally minded, and disorganized. I hate the thought of perfectly useful things ending up in a landfill. But just because something is useful does not mean that I personally can put it to good use.
This problem was somewhat less acute in Columbus, where the FreeCycle community was enormous and diverse. (I once actually found a taker for nearly 100 empty CD jewel cases. He needed them for computer discs and would otherwise have had to buy them. I no longered stored my CDs in their cases. It was a match made in heaven.)
But living in a small town means that I have fewer outlets for my useful yet cluttery items. In the past couple of years, in the hopes of actually having a clean house sometime in my lifetime, I've found myself throwing out items. (Part of this had to do with reading this Cracked article which led me to this article on the fact that our landfill problem is much less dire than we might have thought. Boy did that alleviate some guilt).
I still have issues sending some items into the great landfill abyss, however. In particular, I never know what to do with used shoes. No one wants the running shoes I took on my 500 mile challenge of 2012, but I can't bring myself to throw them out. So they sit uselessly in my closet, having fulfilled their function and waiting patiently for the next run that will never come. I feel guilty seeing them in my closet and I feel guilty thinking about throwing them out.
There really ought to be some clear instructions for those such as myself as to the most responsible way of disposing of such items. If I could just know that it makes the most sense to trash the shoes, that would be that. But instead, I flounder in indecision, and I have a collection of dead running shoes cluttering up my closet. (Seriously, I think there are three former pairs currently in residence.)
(Of course, I did just spend 30 minutes writing this hand-wringing post when I could probably have Googled some answers about shoe disposal methods, but we're ignoring that for the moment.)
Does anyone else get overwhelmed by the thought of trashing usable items? Or am I the only neurotic who took An Inconvenient Truth a mite too seriously?