Last week, I finally decided to call in service on my refrigerator. The panel with the water and ice dispenser in it has been loose for a while. So I went looking for the receipt and the service numbers which resulted in my sifting through the piles of papers and junk that has collected in my filing cabinet since we bought the house. After dealing with the fridge (which turned out to be that the panel was never installed properly, not that it was broken), I decided to clean up my files.
Dealing with old papers has always been a thing for me. I’m a pack rat by nature, and I keep everything. Not that I keep it organized so that it is useful or anything, I just keep it all. Since I have had my mail stolen a time or two, and I know there are people out there who go through the trash looking for items to perpetrate fraud with, I wanted to make sure I disposed of everything properly.
This isn’t the first time I’ve done this. About 8 months ago, I did a semi-cleaning of sorts and I threw out some stuff, but not a lot, so I just tore everything up into small pieces by hand. But for this new overhaul, I knew I’d have more to throw out, so I borrowed an electric paper shredder from my father. 🙂 Man, is that thing fun to use. You just drop paper in the slot and it powers up and shreds. It even has a nifty warning label on it specifically telling you not to put your tie in it, just in case you were tempted to try it.
Even I was unaware of just how much crap I had accumulated. Back in 1992 I got my first job doing night stock work at the local Kroger, and after a few paychecks I went and opened a bank account. I actually had in my filing cabinets, 16 years worth of bank statements and canceled checks. Well, almost. The canceled checks stopped back in 2000 and I went to eStatements in 2006. I also had every credit card statement from 1993 to 2006, and some even to 2008. I had warranty cards for items I haven’t owned in more than a decade.
Overall, if makes me proud of myself to know that most of that can’t happen again. I’ve gone to electronic everything as much as possible, and most companies offer to keep PDF versions of your statements and check images and whatnot for up to seven years if you turn off your paper mailings. So I get to keep the same records I had, only now I’ve got them all on a hard drive instead of in a filing cabinet. However, as proud as I am of that, I also now have more than three full thirty gallon Hefty trash bags of shredded documents. I checked, and my local recycle place won’t take shredded paper for recycling, only unshredded. Seems silly to me, but I guess they must have a reason.
Oh well, at least its just a one time thing, dumping this much paper into the regular garbage instead of the recycle bins.