Screw Recycling.. Let’s start Reducing
Jun 19th, 2011 by JuannyCinco

Have you ever had to empty a house ?   Well, one day you will, and this post is here to prepare you for the sheer shock you will face when staring down at your accumulated wealth.

We are just two people but the accumulation of stuff was staggering. Stuff from years of seminars (please, no more mugs),  from many Christmases (please,  no more bowls or salsa servers), and from many free gifts from doctors and parties (please, no MORE MUGS!).  It’s not that gifts aren’t appreciated – it’s just that it really is the thought that counts.

If you are young enough to have not yet amassed tonnes of what starts as something you believed had value but ends up being worthless, let me give you some lessons that may save you lots of money, lots of time, and ultimately your sanity.   Here’s the reality: you can’t live your entire life in the same place you started it.  Even if you absolutely wanted to, today’s houses just aren’t going to last 50 years: between Chinese drywall, unlicensed construction, poor building codes and management, your house will just not last.  And to the boomerang children?  Your boomer parents will eventually want you to move out.  Coming back after college was temporary because if you don’t work then who on  earth pays their pension and senior health benefits?

Anyway – here are the theories and things you need to know.

  1. The Container Dark Matter Theory
    Containers are just that.  Containers.   But they also have a little dirty secret!  Yes.  Not only are they BIGGER than the BIGGEST thing that they will ever contain, they are also mostly empty.  They are like an expanding universe.   Before you know it, most of your space is absorbed by containers!  Cake containers, cookie containers, bag containers and worst of all, the dreaded container containers!
  2. Mugs Are Gremlins
    If you use a mug after midnight and  it gets wet you will wake up the next morning finding many more mugs.   You may even end up, like us, with a mug from an optometrist! Wouldn’t a set of glasses have made more sense?  (Now that’s a joke you can tell your friends.)
    But here’s the real question: how many mugs do two people own?  2? 4? 6? 8? 10?  Well if you answered 6 then that was a good guess….. if you were only counting ones with a Christmas motif… and are happy being  two short.
  3. Food Hides
    So.  You buy bulk.  You buy a nice balsamic vinegar because it’s worth it and will make so many great meals – good idea!  Guess what.  You used it three times and forgot that it was there hiding behind the Ponzu and Soy.  Guess what!  It goes bad! Yes, Vinegar goes… more vinegary.   You will also find a tin of tomatoes that expired 5 years ago behind a newer tin of tomatoes – even though you’ve been buying fresh tins each week.  Your best efforts to stack them back to front were stymied when you were putting shopping away at 10 pm because of a late night at the office and you had to cook, walk the dog, wash up, eat, get ready for the next day….. Food takes advantage of the poor planners. The best hiders also have a tendency to play games – that sticky stuff you could never identify the source of?  That was heavy syrup from out-of-date peaches.  Yes, the syrup ate a hole in the can, escaped down the inside of the paper lining and carefully meandered its way to the front of the pantry making sure everything got just an essence of goop.. and all the while standing innocently at the back of the cupboard looking totally fresh.
  4. Guest Ware
    What is guest ware?  Guest ware is that mysterious collection of showcase items.  It’s is porcelain with beautiful hand painted scenes, it’s those lead crystal glasses (that used to be hand cut in Ireland but now are factory made in China).  It’s the nice stuff that you don’t use because who wants to wash up after people with the risk of breakage?  Dixie makes paper and plastic plates to avoid this type of unnecessary risk !
  5. Every house has a cupboard where it is always a holiday!
    Open the cupboard in April and you find glass Easter bunnies (no candy because that was eaten) hidden behind the Christmas ornaments, the Thanksgiving ornaments and the Labor Day ornaments.  Of course they are in their in reverse chronological order meaning that the objects you do break out this year are usually the farthest back in the depths of the cupboard.
  6. Liberating
    Throwing out a few truck loads of goods is not liberating.  Giving away things to friends and charities is not liberating.  You know what IS liberating?  Getting rid of a Franco, removing Saddam Hussein AND leaving, and electrolysis.  I’m sure that there are many more liberating things but I can assure you that throwing stuff out (unless the stuff is a dictator or something with energy) is not.
  7. Chromatography Carpet
    It’s not worth keeping your carpet clean.  Even if your dogs didn’t poop, pee, and throw up right in the middle of it, the truth is that the slightest use adds a discoloration that you only notice AFTER you shift furniture around.   No matter how hard you have tried, the color UNDER the couch is not the same color as the carpet AROUND the couch.Using real wood destroys the environment.  Laminate looks like fake wood.   I’m thinking that the 1970s heavy shag carpet was invented by people that knew this – respect to interior decorators from the 70s for inventing the stain proof carpet.
  8. Time Savers are Anti-Space Savers
    That bread machine makes average bread.  That automated Pasta Express makes mediocre pasta.   That crock pot makes slow cooking a breeze.  A rice cooker.. never gets used.

    You know what else slow cooks well? An oven.
    You know what makes fantastic bread?  Hands and an oven.
    You know what makes fantastic pasta?   Hands and a regular pasta maker.
    You know what makes fantastic rice? A saucepan. 

    Convenience products that automate tasks are just things that get in the way!
    Except toasty machines.  A future post will espouse the virtues of these little cheap plastic machines that want to grow up to be panini machines.  Eating a kind-a-bolognese sauce with cheese in toasted bread?  Simply awesome.

Ultimately, when all is said and done I’m sure I will feel LIBERATED. I’m just not there yet.  The reality is that sometimes change is not something that you HAVE to do but it is something you OUGHT to do.  In the long run reducing will be a positive life change – I feel more nimble, more mobile, and ready for a change.  The biggest change is resisting the temptation to re-accumulate.  Reducing and throwing out is tantamount to take $100 bills and lighting them.  Reducing and throwing out is an investment in your future mobility.  It’s a compromise.  Whether it’s a good compromise is determined solely by the future and as I’m in control of that I will only have one person to blame.

Wish me luck in my more light-weight future.

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