This weekend, my husband and I spent two days cleaning out the dreaded "storage area" of our basement.
This was no small task, let me assure you... We have been in this house for eleven years, as of this week. Before we settled down and had our children, my husband and I moved house approximately every two years. I am married to a "Save-o-Potamus" (as I affectionately call the obsessive, junk-hoarding man I love), and the constant moving gave us the opportunity, and, might I add, the tremendous incentive, to get rid of our unnecessary belongings on a regular basis.
Eleven years and three children later... Well, let's just say that it has been getting "Crowded" down in the basement.
The storage area quickly became the place where we "dumped stuff" without much thought... Outgrown toys and clothes, miscellaneous pieces of luggage, malfunctioning kitchen appliances ('cause I'd SURELY find time to fix them later, don't you know), and boxes and boxes of UNKNOWNS.
You know the "unknown" boxes in your basement. That's the stuff that hasn't been looked in on for SO long, you've forgotten what's in there. What's more, you've forgotten to care. In our case, we have been too SCARED OF WHAT MIGHT BE IN THERE to care. My neighbour, Andrea, once decided to have a "Reformation" in her storage area, and figured that she would just toss out all her "unknown" boxes, because, she reasoned, if she hadn't looked at the stuff in THAT LONG, she surely wouldn't actually NEED it. And, it turned out, she DIDN'T need it, until her mother arrived for Christmas later that year and asked where all of Great Grandma's antique tree ornaments had disappeared to...
Lesson learned, I was determined that today, my husband and I would venture into even the scariest and most foreign of our "unknown" boxes.
And oh, the things that we found! There was a weight set and two bags of golf clubs that were older than ME, clothes I hadn't seen since my "bad old days" in university, a cast iron frying pan that STILL reeked of a fish that I once tried to fry in it, a huge, decrepit box-full of Girl Guide Leader supplies, scrapbooks containing ancient newspaper clippings featuring The Toronto Maple Leafs that my husband collected as a child, and a frightening number of the most gargantuan and gaudy sailing trophies, from said husband's "glory days"...
It was an overwhelming task which demanded ruthless tossing-out, and both emotional and physical strength... It might well have been just too much for our marriage to bear... were it not for the wonderful internet organization, "FREECYCLE".
Freecycle is a website that I discovered several years ago, when I was browsing through Yahoo Groups. There are chapters in many, many North American cities, and once you have signed up for the one (or ones!) in your area, you are free to both "post" and "receive". For instance, if you have (as I did) an old toaster oven that you would like to give away, you "post" an offer to the group at large. Everyone in the group will receive your email, and then interested people will email you back, asking for the toaster oven. You, the "post-er" are allowed to choose the recipient, to whom you then email your address, so that he or she can come and pick up the toaster oven. Most often, articles are left just outside of the front door, for "porch pick-up", and that way the "post-er" does not need to be at home, or interrupted.
There is, of course, a list of guidelines, stating what you can and cannot post. This, incidentally, is why I cannot get rid of my girlies this way, no matter WHAT evil crime they have just committed. The threat of freecycl-ing them is a good one, though, and it would CERTAINLY be less expensive to have them picked up from the porch, rather than having to pay the postage if I were to place them on e-bay... The only other rule is that NO MONEY can change hands. FREEcycle means that the articles MUST be free.
You can, if you like, also post for "NEEDED" items, in the hope that some generous soul might respond. Non-profit organizations benefit from this service tremendously. There is a freecycle member in my area to whom I give all of my old computer parts, to help him assemble used computers, which he donates to schools and children's groups.
Freecycle Rocked My World today. I got rid of so many pounds of still-good, but unnecessary stuff, I swear to you, my house has risen up out of its previously-sunken foundation by several inches. My storage space is now so tidy and organized, I can reach the breaker-switch board without climbing over anything! I can have trades-persons visit the premises without having to go through my usual "Sorry 'bout the MESS!!" schpiel!! I know where my craft supplies are!!
But best of all, I met some really nice people, and I'm thrilled that they're so happy to receive the things that my family and I no longer need.
Now, that's NOT to say that the garbage-and-recycling sanitation workers aren't going to earn every cent they make when they stop by my driveway tomorrow morning... Because BELIEVE ME, there was plenty of NOT-so-good stuff down there, as well...
But thanks to Freecycle, there will be plenty of space left in the landfill for some of YOUR stuff, too.