I made the same face when I was cleaning out Opa's storage closet and came across a box on a shelf, way up high in the deep recesses that had not recently been visited. All capital letters written in black marker told me that it held, "WIRES". It was a large box, and it was full. The majority were VCR and television cords, and in his pre-dementia organizational style, they were neatly coiled and labeled. The red, yellow, and white ends even had little pieces of tape to remind him where they belonged. Having had a lifelong love for cameras and related technology, Opa was a big fan of the VCR when it first came out. During his retirement, he spent many hours editing and copying home videos, (and also taping episodes of The Young and The Restless, if he and Oma happened to have an appointment during that hour.) The year I turned 21, he gave me a video about "my life" and I have a tradition of watching it every year on my birthday. I like watching my brother and sister and self goofing around when we were little kids. I like seeing our family dog wagging her tail. I like listening to Opa's voice superimposed over the old Super-8 films. I will never downsize it.
The box of wires though, needed to go. I had no idea what to do with them, so I piled them all onto his desk and took this picture:
|Opa's collection of WIRES|
I posted it on Craigslist under "free stuff", not expecting much of a response. I was shocked. A dude named Travis replied immediately, followed by four more people within about twenty minutes. I didn't understand what the big demand was for a box of wires, but a more worldly friend explained that people strip them for copper. I arranged to meet the wire-stripping guy at a public place in broad daylight, but he stood me up. I recognize in retrospect that this might have been for the best. Ultimately, I was running out of time on the condo clean-out and had to donate them to Goodwill. I really hope they recycled them, or hooked them up with Travis, or that they made their way into the hands of some other industrious person.
Have you got e-waste accumulating in your closet, basement, or garage? How many T.V's are you storing? If you think your loved ones are going to be excited about these treasures after you are dead, guess again. My little collection of A.C. adapters is headed to the local transfer station this week, where they will be transported to a recycling center that breaks them down and recycles the metal. The larger stuff (TV's, VCR's, computer monitors) can also be taken there. There is a charge for disposal, and some people criticize this, but I'd prefer to pay somebody to handle it responsibly now than to store it in the barn for thirty more years.
What will you do with yours? This week's Downsize Challenge is to gather up your e-waste and make final disposition decisions. Your community may have a free e-waste collection day in the spring. Ask around. There are many places that have ongoing collection sites, including some major retail stores that sell electronics. If you are not sure where to go, check out Earth911 or the iRecycle app, search for "e-waste" and plug in your zip code. Don't wait for The New Yorker to feature your family in a cartoon!