Clean Up the Right Way
Three things to consider when you’re moving or cleaning
We have talked before in this blog about why it happens. People illegally dispose of their junk and waste out of ignorance, out of what they believe is necessity, and out of contempt. It’s a shame, but we all make mistakes.
One time, when I moved homes, I had three old window unit ACs. It seems like total common sense now, but I wasn’t thinking it through at the time, and I tossed one away into the general junk pile at the town dump. I only considered my error on the next trip to the dump, hours later, when I was unloading another AC and my dump-neighbor came over.
“I think you have to let them know about ACs. Those can’t be tossed,” he said politely.
“Oh. Of course. Yes. Thanks.” I fished the unit back out of the small pile I’d already created. I went back through the line after I finished with the rest of the junk and paid to have the two remaining AC units properly disposed of.
To this day, it eats me up. Obviously. I’m writing about it still. I know the cooling agents in that first AC are somewhere out there, leaking slowly from the busted casing of the window unit. I also know that it’s at the dump, not out in the woods or along a pristine river. But it eats me up nonetheless. Our groundwater and our streams are degraded enough. I cannot believe I didn’t think through what I had done.
If I had been considering three key factors I would probably have been more thoughtful and more present. Under those circumstances, I would have immediately thought of the repercussions of tossing a window unit in a junk pile. Now that I live in Go Trashy ‘s junk hauling service area, all I would have had to do was photograph my stuff, and then they would have sent someone to separate, haul, recycle, and properly dispose of my junk. Alas, I didn’t have that option back then.
Think of these things as you clean or move homes, and you’ll avoid my error. Life gets crazy when we’re moving homes or when it’s time to clean up a large mess. Stay present in the moment and keep focused on the task at hand. What decisions are you making, and are you thinking through each one?
The fines on these things are serious business. I am lucky I was making a well intentioned error with a helpful person watching. Improper disposal in your apartment dumpster or your local dump is just as finable as improper disposal into your neighbor’s back yard. When in doubt, just Google the rules in your town or city. You are not the first one to ask for help. I have found that the folks at the dump or at Go Trashy can be really helpful in making disposal decisions.
It’s not a political issue. Whatever your feelings are on the action that governments and nations should take toward the environment, you have to know it’s wrong to dump old paint or motor oil into the storm drains. It’s common sense. Yet for decades we had to teach folks that they could not use the storm drain as an oil pan. Well, we know better now. Natural resources are utilized in abundance to create the products we end up tossing into dumps. Cardboard, tin, aluminum, plastic. Whenever possible, recycle or upcycle, and most importantly, don’t dump toxic stuff. It might cost just a few bucks and a trip to the dump to save generations of natural resources.
Peace of Mind
I wish I had known how to properly dispose of that first AC unit. Now, it has eaten away at me, bit by bit. If I’d been more considerate, I would have the peace of mind that comes with doing the right thing. I lost sleep that first night after my mistake. I know that sounds dramatic to some of you, but I hate making mistakes of any kind, let alone ones that hurt the planet or other people. Keep your own mental happiness and peace of mind in your thoughts as you are cleaning or moving so that you make decisions you will be happy to live with.
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