This Goes Over There

Reduce ReuseDo you ever feel like you spend too much time rearranging where things go in the world? I sure do.

A big part of it is this “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra that’s going around. On a recent trip to Oregon, we were faced with disposal options labeled “landfill,” “compostable,” and “plastic bottles.” But we had many conversations among ourselves as to what represented landfill and what was compostable, and where the heck were we supposed to put aluminum cans and newspapers?

In our own home, the 3 R’s have created an organizational challenge. Just the other day, my wife listed seven different categories of bags in which we’re collecting stuff. I’m sure there are more.

There’s one for electronics to be recycled. There’s another for metal to be recycled. There’s one for toilet paper and paper towels rolls, which my sister-in-law takes and fills with birdseed for a wildlife preserve. There’s one for damaged but usable fabric, which goes to my sister, who makes quilts. There’s one for usable clothes, which goes to the local shelter. There’s one for towels we no longer use, which go to the Humane Society to cradle small animals. There are bags for Goodwill. There are bags for recycling. There are bags for compost. There are bags for books that get donated to the library. That’s ten right there.

But it’s not just stuff that we want to get rid of. There’s also a rearranging regimen for stuff we want to keep so that we can find it the next time we need it (good luck with that concept). Given my recent weight loss, I have a drawer dedicated to clothing that needs to be altered. I keep finding promotional scratch pads from real estate agents in drawers, so I have to rearrange those so they’re all in one place.

I have magazines from earlier in my career that I keep moving from drawers to magazine boxes to shelves and back again. These only go up to the end of the last century or so because after that, everything I wrote was electronic. The day is going to come (soon) when I don’t need to keep evidence of what I’ve written, because I’m not going to be looking for any new work. When that day comes, that’s even more decisions about rearranging: scrapbooks? Portfolios? Who knows?

Then there’s the whole logistical aspect of rearranging that drives me crazy. We have a table in the kitchen on the way to the garage, which doubles as a staging area for what gets moved from one place to the other. The foyer doubles as a staging for what leaves the house. Otherwise, nothing would ever leave the house, because we would forget about it as we were walking out the door.

And now there’s a new problem to contend with, an inflationary trend bloating the 3 R’s into 6 or more R’s (see the graphic above if you really want to be horrified). These include:

  • refuse
  • respect
  • replenish
  • reinvent
  • rethink
  • repair
  • replace
  • rotate

I already sometimes refuse water in restaurants, because that’s the way we’ve been forced to live in California. Repair really isn’t my specialty, and fix-it shops have gone the way of VCRs (which no one has been able to fix for a long time anyway). Rotate is what my head is doing trying to figure all this out.

Frankly, I’m not sure what replace is doing on the list, because that’s the opposite of reuse. Ditto replenish, unless that’s referring to the idea of refilling recently reduced receptacles retaining remnants of regularly … oh, forget it.

The Jetson’s dog Astro said it best when he uttered, “Ruh-roh.”


About middleagecranky

The Middle-Age Cranky blog is written by baby boomer Howard Baldwin, who finds the world, while occasionally wondrous, increasingly aggravating.
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2 Responses to This Goes Over There

  1. Leslie Martin says:

    Love this! I know I’m turning into one of those strange old ladies…I wash out zip lock bags and I use the plastic wrap that comes on cut fruit until the fruit is gone–longer than is appealing, for sure. All this in a Singapore apartment which has two chutes in the “Refuse Room”, one labelled “Recyclables” the other labelled “General Waste”. I’m pretty sure both chutes go to the same place, but the labels make us feel better.

  2. As baby boomers, we have become well trained consumers. We have bought and bought and bought more stuff than we can imagine could even fit in our homes. And suddenly life becomes about “stuff management”. That is how I spend more weekends than I’d like to say. My advice to the younger generation. DON’T BUY SO MUCH STUFF! I feel like my stuff owns me.

    And about the three R’s, my Mom started washing plastic bags out when I was a kid. Had to bring home my brown lunch bag for re-use until it was worn out, then it would be used in the fireplace, back when the air was clean enough to have a real fire in the fireplace. The most embarrassing part of my bagged lunch was when I had carrot sticks wrapped in used wax paper, rubber banded together. Rubber bands saved from the daily newspaper.

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