Sunday, January 27, 2008

Our Life in Shreds

After my December clutter-purge, I realized I hadn’t yet dealt with a huge stash of confidential documents – mostly old tax returns. We have a huge, two-story garage that provides a wealth of storage in its upper regions but it also hides a wealth of trash. They say it’s safe to destroy tax records after seven years. Why don’t I trust the IRS? I saved `em for eight just to be sure. Most of the account numbers were probably defunct but without combing through the bags, I couldn’t be sure. A few years back, when burn barrels were still allowed in the City, we would periodically rip open a bag of outdated tax returns and toss them in the barrel with other paper trash. Of course, we wouldn’t remember to do it every time, then burning was outlawed and we were left with dirty boxes of musty wads of previously important papers.

Several years back, in a pre-garage sale mode, I had pulled a bunch of the tax bundles off of the shelf piled them at the top of the stairs, intending to do something with them. Apparently I never did and Mark finally asked what was in the pile…..Whoops! Shredding was an option but I don’t have the time or patience for the grinding noise to sit and run one page at a time though the marginal shredder that we have.
In the Bay Area, you’ll see trucks parked in the business district collecting documents for confidential shredding from businesses. We don’t have commercial services like that up here but we do have
HCAR -- a local non-profit that serves the developmentally disabled. Teams of HCAR clients are employed in the community and after making some phone calls, I found out that one of the services they offer is confidential shredding. They came and PICKED UP our papers and stored them securely until they could be shredded. When it was time to shred, their team went through the bags and boxes, removing clips and other miscellaneous at which time it was weighed and I was billed. The cost? A mere 37 cents a pound. I got the bill the other day. It was a little over two weeks between the day they collected our stuff and the day it was shredded. Mark said they took five or six boxes of paperwork which apparently weighed 83.2 pounds. My bill was for $30.78. That’s a cool deal in my book.
So I got rid of a BUNCH of stuff for which there is no easy disposal method.
HCAR clients were employed. The paper was recycled. Life is good. Now there is space to store more stuff in the garage.


Kym said...

That is a great service. Here in the country we just use the fireplace but I'll tell my town friends about it.

The Boy Most Likely to ... said...

You just made my heart flutter with that story. There are many cool things that Non-Profit company does for the disabled in this community besides employing them as shredders. Very cool of you to seek them out!


Anonymous said...

Boy....I couldn't agree more.
Redwoods United has many services for business to use.

Beachcomber, good idea for using HCAR.

Anonymous said...

Oh, by the way, Out in Willow Creek, we used to burn everything. We did this for probably 50 years. One day, my dad, an experienced firefighter, was given a notice of cease and desist by the Air Quality Management folks. For burning trash.

Never knew they had law enforcement officers. That's bureaucracy in action!

The Boy Most Likely to ... said...

Hey Eko, if they can find a way to fine people, bureaucrats will police the public like you will not believe.

Sadly, Redwoods United has gone out of business.


Beachcomber said...

I miss ye olde burn barrel as well. I collect paper waste in a milk carton and toss it in the fireplace but I'm haunted by the ghost of a chimney sweep in my past who left me a "this is NOT an incinerator" note after he spotted cereal boxes in my fire basket.
Boy, I hope that wasn't a scold. I knew that HCAR offers a lot of services but this was not one I was aware of. Truthfully, I called all over before someone pointed me in that direction. Perhaps this is a service that should be advertised. Of course, I've eliminated so much of the paper from daily life with on-line bill paying, etc that it won't accumulate as it has.

The Boy Most Likely to ... said...

Me scold? Never. I am just happy to read about your positive experience with HCAR!


Kristabel said...

Yes...fantastic to support people with disabilities, and I, too, am glad that you had such a good experience.

Unfortunately, clients of HCAR get paid sub-minimum wage to do that kind of work. It's completely discriminatory. This is not a criticism of HCAR, but a criticism of a system that thinks it's okay to pay people with disabilities below the minimum wage.