Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring cleaning

Brian and I spent most of yesterday cleaning out our storage room (also known as the shop and the laundry room, but it does those jobs only occasionally and stores stuff 24/7). This time I remembered to take a "before" picture:


As you can see, the most obvious pile of clutter in the room is that mass of stuff on the worktable in the middle, most of which is seed-starting supplies that never got put away after we finished potting up all our seedlings for the year. So we started by going through that lot, emptying soil out of tubes, washing the tubes, discarding the more battered cartons, and neatly stacking the clean cartons in a big box marked "seed starting." The seeds themselves stayed out, since there are still several crops that have to go into the garden, but everything else was neatly contained in that box or thrown out. That made a pretty visible improvement right away.

After that, we moved on to tackling some clutter that was less visible, but just as unnecessary. For instance, I had two big bins full of scrap fabric, mostly old pairs of pants, and I had to go through all of that and admit that, realistically, it was pretty unlikely I'd ever use most of it. I still ended up keeping probably more than we needed (I doubt I'm actually going to need six pairs of old jeans just to make patches for newer jeans, for instance), but I still filled up two garbage bags with stuff to take to the  nearest textile recycling bin. I also made a smaller pile of still-usable clothing that can be donated to our local thrift shop. My scrap bin doesn't actually look all that different without the extra junk piled in and on it, but it's a lot easier to open and close.

Meanwhile, Brian was going through piles of other junk. We puzzled for a while over an assortment of electronic debris, trying to figure out what was e-waste we should recycle and what was just regular trash. We eventually decided we could safely trash all the cables, leaving just one small webcam and one old RF modulator to be taken to down to our local Department of Public Works for e-cycling. 

We also had a large box on one shelf marked "give away," full of random stuff that we can't use but still think might be useful to someone else. However, after my recent Freecycle blast, a lot of the larger items were gone, so we were able to consolidate the remainder into a much smaller box. I also pulled a couple of the items out to list them on Freecycle, as well as a few smaller things that we decided it would be amusing to stuff into Christmas stockings. (This also prompted me to get started on this year's holiday gift list, which we generally work on throughout the year as we pick up yard-sale finds and other bargains that come to hand.)

A lot of the remaining work was just tidying up: putting away tools, grouping items to be repaired on a designated "project" shelf, dumping out the accumulated sawdust and wood shavings from earlier woodworking projects, and vacuuming up all the dirt from our seed-starting ventures. Miscellaneous junk got dumped into trash bins (dried-up paint, packing foam) and bundled up for recycling (lots of corrugated cardboard). And after lots of trips upstairs and downstairs and out to the shed, here's what we had at the end of the day:


Doesn't actually look all that different from the "before" picture, does it? Hard to believe that we filled two big garbage cans with trash, two big trash bags with recyclable textiles, and two smaller bags with other items to be recycled, and yet somehow there seems to be just as much stuff in the room as there was before. But trust me, everything is much neater on the inside. At least, I now think that if I went down there looking for, say, a hammer, I could actually locate it within five minutes, which I didn't feel at all confident about before. 
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