Moving house – dealing with the junk

It’s been couple of years since the last time we moved house, but I’m still amazed and ashamed at the stuff we’re going to need to get rid of. Not all of it is from the last two years – I still have “junk items” going back to my childhood; so some of it’s 30 years old – there’s still also a lot of crud left over from my computer business from 10 years ago that I fooled myself into thinking I may need one day :).

We’re faced with a substantial pile of junk and trash and rather than have it all end up in landfill, there’s a few things we’ll be doing more of this time around:

a) Donations. There’s so many organizations out there needing all sorts of things – old computer equipment, clothing, blankets – what they can’t use directly, they can resell in their stores to raise money.

b) Using a FreeCycle type service – one person’s junk is another’s treasure and I’m sure we’ll shift a bit that way.

c) Using a responsible rubbish removal service that will do a further sift for recyclable or reusable items.

d) Getting together all the old cans of paint and other chemicals and finally dropping them off at a hazardous wastes depot where they’ll reclaim what they can and responsibly dispose of what they can’t

For me to sift through everything to separate recyclables and take them to different locations would be terribly time consuming. We’ve opted to use a service that will do that before anything hits landfill. They’ll drop off a small dumpster, pick it up a few days later, sift it at their depot and the remaining unusable and unrecyclable materials will (unfortunately) go to the dump. The cost for this service is around US$120

If you’re about to move house soon and are thinking about getting a dumpster in; ask the company what they do with the junk – from what I could tell in our local area, the price between those that will sift through it and recycle and those that won’t was pretty close – the recycling oriented companies make some cash for their efforts from what they retrieve.

Also try to avoid throwing chemicals and items such as batteries into the dumpster. These items should be really disposed of at toxic waste depots. By the way, some recyclers take car batteries – we get 5 bucks a pop for them locally.

Whilst on the topic of “junk”; if there’s something I’ve increasingly become aware of in recent years, it’s “stuff” certainly doesn’t make you happy; so in future, I’ll be more careful about acquiring stuff.

Stuff costs money.
We have to work hard to buy stuff.
Stuff then needs to be stored; requiring more room.
Stuff needs to be cleaned and maintained.
Stuff breaks.
Stuff needs to be fixed; more money.
Stuff then usually needs to be disposed of.

Enough of stuff. The less stuff we want, the less we need to work, the less worry – leaving us with more time and energy to enjoy other things – the wonder of a rainbow, a sunset, a bird, the ants as they go about their business – all that warm and fuzzy environmentally friendly stuff :).

One of the most peaceful moments of my life was when I was out on the road in my late teens – homeless, no car, no money, no real idea where I was heading and one bag. There wasn’t anything remarkable happening, I was just walking along a lonely country road.

It’s really hard to explain the sensation of peace I experienced; it went beyond that, albeit it was very brief – but I think it had a lot to do with the fact I had nothing; just me, just the road and a mystery ahead. I felt totally connected to the surrounding countryside. I’ve only experienced it once again, and again it occurred in a natural environment.

I’m not about to shed all my worldly belongings and hit the road again; but often when I look around me and think about the task of shifting house and cringe at the pile of junk growing out back, nostalgia of that moment in time flares up. I again question the all too common practice of accumulating things we don’t *really* need or for that matter, *really* want when it comes down to it.

For a real eye opener about “stuff”; check out this article on Consumption statistics and my post about the video, The Story of stuff