How right I was.
I started with the papers I could see lurking around the house. Mail, quite a bit of it junk. I've signed up for something that's supposed to stop us from getting catalogs, so hopefully that will kick in soon. But we also get an astounding number of credit card offers. It's very petty, but they all come with a prepaid envelope so I tear up the offer and send it back to them. Of course, I also circle our names and tell them to take us off their list. Sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly cranky, I'll tell them to stop wasting paper and plastic. (It's not enough to send us the offer anymore, they have to send a stupid fake version of what the credit card would look like if we signed up for it!) I've mostly stopped getting offers, but Shane's still getting roughly three per week. Once I had them all stacked up and ready to be sent out, it was rather an impressive pile.
I tackled my desk next. The top has been covered in papers for so long. I cleared it off before the wedding, knowing that family would be coming to our apartment, but it filled right back up with wedding stuff, bills from my nose, etc. It's felt like a losing battle so what harm can I do to add one or two more pieces of paper? I even had all of the response cards from our wedding stacked up. I was going to do something with them so that we could always remember who came to our wedding. Then I realized, I'll never look at it and as an heirloom, it would kind of suck. What do future generations care? They won't know all of those people. That's what we have digital pictures for, anyway. So those got recycled, along with all of the bills from my broken nose and surgery. I've paid them, and don't really need to keep them around. (I have the receipts, though.)
The desk drawers were the places where I got rid of the most paper. Whew! The piles for both "shred" and "recycle" were larger than I thought they would be. In the end, I kept less than a quarter of what was in there: a letter from one of my little cousins, the leases for our current apartment and our cabin, tax forms, and a few other things. They don't even fill up one drawer! How wonderful to get rid of all that unnecessary stuff. And I found some Christmas wrapping paper while I was in there, totally unused. I can dress up some Christmas gifts with it now. Earlier this week, I found some wrapping paper from a few wedding gifts which is still in good condition. Since it's all white and gold with stars, I figure it's appropriately Christmas-y and we'll reuse it to wrap a few family gifts. The other item for re-use is a Christmas bag that's been passed around several times. I think when I reuse it this year it will be its fourth re-use. After all, bags don't get ripped like paper and they look lovely even after many uses.
We still have a long way to go when it comes to cleaning out and organizing our house. But I feel so much better knowing that I made a start today. If you need a little more motivation to start your organizational binge, you should watch this short video. What he says in the beginning, about carting that box around, is so true for so many of us. Why do we do it?