Occasionally I’ll write something in my editor’s note for the Real Simple monthly issue that makes readers mad. Sometimes they think I’m frivolous and sometimes they think I’m a horrible person and sometimes it’s somewhere in between.
Well, I’ve done it again, and this time it’s more on the horrible person end of the spectrum. In the June issue I wrote about ordering a Dumpster and throwing out lots of the dusty rubble that seemed to make up most of my basement, particularly after our renovation last year. It was a liberating act, and I said so in my letter.
A number of readers who are either mildly disappointed or genuinely angry have taken me to task for not trying to donate the things I threw away.
Now, when I read the letters, do I feel a twinge of guilt? Definitely. Were there things I threw out that, with more effort, organization and thought, I could have either repurposed or somehow given away? I suppose—hence the guilt. (Although the thought of trying to give away mice-infested snow boots just seems tacky, unhealthy, and maybe insane.) I honestly did not regard cleaning out my basement as an environmental act, as perhaps I should have; I just wanted to get all of the crap out of my basement. I have also frequently donated to my local Salvation Army and have seen the mountains of stuff in the lobby and warehouse; the stuff I was throwing away did not pass donation muster, at least not in my book.
The most distressing part of the reaction (and we’re talking a handful of letters here, not hundreds) is that some readers are assuming that both I and Real Simple do not promote environmentally friendly living, which is not true, even if it may have looked that way in this editor’s letter. To those readers I apologize, and urge they not judge the magazine by what they read in one letter from me. (But honestly, I do wish I’d taken photos.)
When I started this blog, the staff of RealSimple.com warned me that the blogosphere is a mean, name-calling place, and not for sissies. I have to tell you that my experience in writing Adventures in Chaos has been refreshingly vitriol-free. While I do get a little laugh in being called a socialite, let’s just say I’m glad it doesn’t happen every day.