Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thoughts/Questions Re: Organization, Finances, and Donations

Okay Internet types, I need your help!

Item the First: Organization

Littlest's due date seems to be approaching at a fast and furious rate since we turned the corner into 2008. As a result we are in the thick of rearranging and shifting to move Harper into the "guest" room and spiffy up the "nursery" for the next kiddo. Not surprisingly this has turned into cleaning out many of the spaces throughout the house. We have a bunch of rarely used sleeping bags on a shelf in the family room closet and they are being demoted to the basement. So do we store them in large trash bags (which has me thinking, "Ew! They will be so accessible to bugs and mice, and moisture.") or do we invest in a couple of humongous plastic bins and store them thusly? Past experience has me inclined to vote for bins, but Matt, the more frugal of us except in the part of his brain that desires a Wii, says trash bags. Thoughts? Opinions?

Item the Second: Finances

Okay, to call this a financial question is probably a little extreme, sorry. Here's the thing - I live in a pretty constant state of fear that Blogger will go kerfluey and all these stories of mine will be lost. Which may not be a tragedy to the world at large, but would make me sad because of all the hours lost, all the memories that won't be as vividly recalled, and I think that Harper might get a kick out of reading this stuff someday. I have recently learned about a service that allows you to download blog content into a template and have it printed as a book. I know we are in the digital age and all, but I would feel so relieved to have a copy of all of this that I could hold in my hands. So my question is: Do you think it's worth it to pay for something like that? Would you do it, you know, if you were me? Or do you have another way of preserving things? I know I could cut and paste most of it into Word and save the files on a DVD, but it just doesn't translate well that way.

Item the Third: Donations

Inevitably, with all the aforementioned cleaning out and shifting we are doing, we are coming across a multitude of things that don't feel so much worth saving. Now some of it is in good shape and donating it seems like a no-brainer. But then there is an entire category of items that I just don't know what to do with. For example a Consumer Reports book about baby stuff that has been handed down several times and has a copyright of about 1999. Is that worth anything to anybody? Or am I just passing my problem along to the Salvation Army (or whoever) by donating it?

We recently took a bag of videos to a local library branch after Matt had called and asked if they could use them. He was told they would either catalog and use them or put them in their used "book" sale. However, when I showed up with the bag to drop them off, they were not well received. Oops.

I find outdated books, like the Consumer Reports thing and old textbooks, and video tapes the most troublesome. Can I recycle paperback items? Can I tear the pages out of hardcovers and just throw the covers away? Is there someone somewhere that might actually want my math methods for elementary school textbook from 1997? How about VHS copies of 37 different Disney movies? I don't know!!!

I should probably clarify by saying that I'm not looking to sell the stuff, I just want to avoid adding unnecessary junk to the landfill if it isn't just to someone else.

Your turn. Please use your collective wisdom to guide me. Or at least let me know if you are interested in my old textbooks.


Pam said...

1. In my experience, any fabric you store will take on a damp smell, particulraly in the basement, even if it's dry. That rules out trash bags. I haven't stored stuff in cans but I bet they would take on moisture there too. I use "space bags" - no moisture, no smell, can store under your bed and even put a little pouch of lavendar or a "bounce" sheet in there to keep them smelling nice. Space bags are worth the investment - I use ours a lot.

2. Talk to Emily. Her and Brian came up with a way to PDF and print them but I can't remember how they did it.

3. Craig's list "Free" section for stuff you think might be helpful to poeple, then recycle as much as you can. Also, I have put the most obscure and unwanted stuff out on the sidewalk and people take it. I once went back out to check and caught my neighbor taking Tiki lights - very awkward moment!

Swistle said...

1) Go back in time, and save some of the zippered plastic bags that comforters and mattress pads come in. Store the sleeping bags in those. If your time machine is not working, I guess I'd vote for bins.

2) Each time I write a post, I also save it into a word processing document. I try not to be anxious that Blogger AND my computer will BOTH experience a problem, because I am WAYYYYY behind on computer back-ups. I would be interested in one of those book-making things, except I'd have to do So! Much! Editing! I'd have to go through and take out all the little things I WOULDN'T want hardbound: swears, asides, links, entire posts about air freshener, references to other people's blogs, etc. It would be too much work for me to want to do it.

3) When the weather gets warm, we do a Free Yard Sale. We put everything out on the lawn with a big FREE sign. Most of it gets taken.

Lil Mouse said...

1. get space bags they work
2. dunno
3. do either of you work for a big company? i have before and lots of grandmas will buy extra copies or firsties of videos for grandkids to watch at their house for like 50 cents or a dollar. list on your /hubby's bulletin board at work. for the books, try a halfprice books store? a library? ebay? the consumer reports i say recycle because its out of date compared to safety standards, etc. but recycle!

Heather said...

I'm only commenting on item 2 - I'd say it's TOTALLY worth it!!! In fact, if you'd share the information with me, I'll be doing it as well!

Uncle Jamie said...

My only advice comes concerning old text books. At the end of the semester when everyone goes to sell back their books to the school, they never buy everything back. Some books have gone to a new edition or they met their "quotas", etc... But they always have huge bins out accepting old books as donations for places like Africa. You could hold on to text books you don't want until the end of April and I can donate them if you would like...

Mommy Daisy said...

1. I'm cheap, I'd side with Matt and use the plastic bags. Unless they're expensive and you worry about replacing them, then maybe do something else.

2. Uhhh, I don't save or back up. I've thought about just printing each post/comments and putting it in a binder for my personal use.

3. I, too, have plenty of outdated college textbooks. We did sell many of them after we moved in this house, but I kept ones I thought I might look at again someday (like Math Methods, ha). And here I am. I know someday I'll probably just throw them out, because I'll need the space.

Emily said...

EXCELLENT questions, I feel like you and I are SO on the same page right now (must have to do with impending 2nd children)
1. I don't know what these space bags are that some have mentioned, but I just started using those "Big Bags" by Ziploc? They sell them in the aisle with regular ziploc bags, and the biggest ones would fit sleeping bags. They zip up and are thicker plastic than trash bags, but definitely cheaper than bins.

2. I would definitely at least come up with a way to save it as a pdf (Brian says we were able to do it because he has a "pdf writer" that you have to buy. Let me know if you want me to ask him for more details). We haven't printed it out as of yet, but we keep backing it up. Someday I might print it, but for now I feel safe having it saved.

3. I believe there is a Half Price Books where you live, and they will literally take every single book and VHS tape that you have, and give you cash. Of course, you'll probably get 30 cents for your old textbook, but they'll take them and they are doing something worthwhile with them. We have been purging SO much stuff lately it's crazy. We can compare notes on where to donate when we visit next week! (can't wait!)

Mommy Brain said...

1. bins.
2. I'm all for the book thing. Carrie from Barely Controlled Chaos did this and I've been thinking of doing it ever since. See pics at

3. Check out I've found that a lot of stuff that other places won't take is picked up through freecycle. Especially old VHS tapes. (Probably the baby stuff book is okay to recycle.)

Erin said...

Your County Solid Waste District should be able to answer your recycling vs. landfill questions. I believe you have a good one out there, who sponsered one A+ exhibit at a local Children's Museaum on landfill operations. Call them!

About the VHS tapes: time to toss them sister. We threw away nearly ALL our VHS when we moved last spring. It was stressful and felt DARING. But it SET US FREE! GOOD RIDDANCE 1992! You won't miss them. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

To add on to the Half Price Books comment, from experience: if you give them ANY book (textbook, outdated book, what have you) and they can't use it, they will recycle it (even the cover). They do not mind it-- I've asked.

Laura said...

#1) I second Swistle's suggestion of re-using old zippered comforter/ blanket bags. They really work great to hold so much stuff. Obviously, if you don't have any of these on hand, I vote for vaccuum sealed spacebags. The investment is worth the space you will save.

#2) I pretty much have the same concerns and am not nearly as savvy when it comes to brilliant document-saving-technology. Or whatever. I'd love to hear what you come up with.

#3) I'm all for recycling, but there's a limit to what you can hold onto. Looks like you have several great resources that have been suggested, just be ruthless and DO IT!

Good Luck to you!

Kate said...

Hey there-- About once a year my husband saves the blogger files on our computer so that we have them. Then you can always burn them on a CD to have, too.

We printed out my first year-- and WOW... that's a lot of paper. And as much as I wish each post were a gem worth saving... most days are just reporting.