I've been working (on & off) on this year's big downsizing purge. The first thing I addressed was a glut of old documents, documents that have accumulated since I moved into this house at end of 2002. That's over 14 years. Long enough.
Back in 2007 (I think - can't find the old photos) I girded myself and finally shredded all documents pertaining to my OLD house. Yep. I always worried I'd have to prove to a bank, a vendor, a tax collector, etc., that things were OK. Shredding that up took me for.ev.er using my little home shredder and I ended up with bags and bags of paper to recycle.
I decided not to go that route this time around. Instead, I took time to go through a lot of business and personal history, set aside sentimental/important items and put the rest in file boxes after I removed all clips, bands, clamps, covers, spines and folders. What went in the boxes were straight paper.
Ended up with 5 heavy boxes I could not lift (shoulder) so a friend took them downstairs and loaded them into the car. Yesterday I drove the lot to a professional, secure documentation destruction facility about 10 miles south.
I got lost and had to phone them for help. They were so friendly (U-Shredd-It - kind of a misnomer as THEY shred it). They were waiting for me outside by the door (waving and smiling) with a security bin when I did arrive. They unloaded the boxes, dumped them into the bin, and we all walked it into the building where the bin went into the shredding room and I went into the observation office. I watched in silence. Everything older than 3 years: bank statements, cancelled checks, utility bills, investment documents, business transactions. Medical & Rx info. Defunct insurances. I got emotional thinking of the years of pay stubs, printouts of some of my best computer programs, technical/training manuals I'd written. I even let go (after a final reading) of wonderful job evaluations from bosses and colleagues. Old bank/savings accounts, long closed, when I was saving for the new house. There it all went. Over 135# of it.
I apologized for the sniffle to the associate who was watching with me while she prepared my invoice. But to me it was a ceremony, I had needed to find a facility that had a viewing station. I didn't want to just leave my stuff at a free shredding place, locked or not. This paper had meaning. History. It's destruction had to be witnessed. Because now I'm at a place in my life where I COULD let go of paper that said I was good at my jobs, that I was financially acute, that I pay my bills, that I had managed to pay off 2 houses in my life. I was ready to let go the dusty evidence, free up the space (mentally and physically) and live more in the now.
The associate said business witnesses come for security reasons when they watch. But most regular folks (like me) are there for emotional reasons: loss of a family member, someone going into assisted living, downsizing, etc. Like me, they find comfort knowing this stuff is not just going to trash, but being efficiently destroyed, compressed, baled and recycled into useful things like cardboard, etc. Circle of life.
Anyway, Terry (the owner) wouldn't allow me to bring home even a small handful of my shedded material due to strict HIPPA security laws. He did, however, shred up some unimportant paper I brought along so I could show you how well the process works. (see bottom center pic)
I will use this facility again in the future when I start divesting myself of a backlog of old computer equipment, because they have machines that destroy computer data storage items like harddrives, CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, VHS backup, etc. These items are shredded into bits, then melted down for recycling.
Bottom line, watching the shred was a good experience. Safe, secure and, comforting. I, personally, needed closure.
Okay, off to sorting books. At least I know after going through a dozen boxes (never opened since I moved here) anything that doesn't make the cut can go right to the local Friends of the Library group for their annual book sale. Much less emotional to be sure. I'll let THEM decide what is saleable and what should be recycled.
How about you? How do you deal with these situations? Do you just pitch stuff? Worry about security? Any emotional involvement?
Hey, found the old 2007 Jan photos of that shred. Impressive, no? And it took me days and days. The trip to the shredding company VERY worthwhile!