Dishing It Out by Andrea Macko
Yahoo! One of the best days of every other year is next Saturday: the St. Marys Firefighters’ household waste pick-up day. Maybe I’m jumping the gun by writing about it a week early, but experience has taught me that it’s best to get a head start on rounding up your junk so you don’t forget anything when next Friday night rolls around.
What’s great about this day is that it allows us to be lazy and productive. We all have stuff we’ve been hanging on to simply because we don’t know what to do with it: thanks to our volunteer firefighters, all we have to do is lug it out to the curb, guilt-free. The benefits are twofold: we clear our homes of (potentially) flammable clutter, and the firefighters raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Canada by collecting scrap metal.
There’s never been so much interest in reusing and “upcycling” items, and you can witness this trend first-hand the night prior to the pick-up. People cruise around, perusing the piles, taking what they want. There is no shame: a few years ago, while I stood near our pile, Agnes doing her doggy business beside me, three unkempt men pulled up and sorted through our substantial heap, eventually selecting a bunch of pots that barely held water and our garage’s old oil furnace tank.
Were they stealing profitable scrap metal away from our firefighters or just looking to cook something over an open flame? I’ll never know – and didn’t have the nerve to ask. But this year, the firefighters will also be collecting scrap metal on Friday night to dissuade any would-be greedy types (so get your metal out early and keep an eye on it).
I find what we choose to discard fascinating: While we must throw out some daily detritus, what we finally choose to let go of is telling. In past years, when I’ve been out cruising – albeit doing casual research for this paper – vacuum cleaners and dusty or rusty (never both!) exercise equipment were in abundance. What does this say about us? A love of cardio and of hardwood flooring, or just unobtainable aspirations and rampant undercleaning? Regrets, we’ve had a few...
Despite a lack of available research online (my search for “what we choose to throw out” turned up a few Nickleback results… interesting), I think we’re hoarders by habit. Having stuff makes us feel safe and secure, not like our itinerant ancestors, who, granted, spread us out across this great Earth but also had an average life span of roughly 30 years. These days, however, our homes and garages are filled with poorly thought out purchases, un-regiftable gifts, things that may not suit you at the moment, but might a few years from now, and things that you just feel strange for shoving into your weekly garbage.
While items that have outlived their usefulness to anyone deserve to be recycled or properly disposed of, there is a multitude of ways to get rid of stuff that’s still useful -- but just not to you. Take an ad out in this paper, post it on Kijiji or a Facebook buy-and-sell page (St. Marys has its own). Donate it, when permissible, to Pass It On or the Salvation Army, or host a swap party to refresh your wardrobes with like-sized friends.
It’s no surprise that the pick-up day coincides with Earth Week. While being green has lost some of its marketing luster as of lack – or maybe we’re learning to do better with simpler or less stuff and we don’t need to be green-marketed to anymore – it’s still as important as ever to reduce, reuse and recycle. Thanks to our firefighters for making it easier for us all!
Smoothies are the ultimate food recyclers: just toss whatever fruits, vegetables, dairy and even legumes you have into your blender and make something delicious. I recently discovered Thug Kitchen: it’s written in the tone of a gangsta rapper and the language is so foul that it’s funny (fair warning for those with sensitive ears). It’s a refreshing change from the typical holier-than-thou tone of health blogs. Here’s a Thug-recommended smoothie that tastes of spring cleaning.
2 handfuls of spinach (about two cups)
2 frozen bananas
1 cup skinned and chopped cucumber
4 medium pineapple chunks
1 cup coconut water or tap water
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tbsp. flax oil (optional)
Mint leaves to taste (optional)
Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.