Organizing my nice pile of garbage


There really is no other way to say this: I like to save waste. Receipts from favorite shops or meals, pamphlets and maps from travel, tickets and clothing labels – if some scrap comes from a cherished memory or even just plain well-designed, I tuck it away in random corners of my house and usually forget about it until I get something. otherwise search.

The impulse to hoard documentation is probably annoying to anyone who lives with me. Unfortunately for them, it is also very good for my work. At least one Wayback Machine tab always stays open, and I have a terrifying number of screenshots, recordings, transcripts, and notes that freeze on every device I own. But unlike the physical ephemera stashed away in drawers and boxes, the files on my computer are just that: shapeless, searchable, not littered on the tops of dressers or forgotten in pockets and piles. My stash of trinkets hasn’t become a problem yet, but I’ve finally started thinking about what I could actually do do with them – when we talk about collecting receipts for something, I don’t think it was meant literally.

I have plenty of digital outlets at my disposal to archive what I do with my time, but none seemed quite right for my precious mountain of waste. I considered Instagram Stories – buttoned up and casual enough that a soft arrangement of scraps of paper and cute shopping bags wouldn’t go amiss. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share my fixes with others to put them away. And once I’ve taken a photo, what to do with the physical evidence? I was back to square one.

I’m getting better at collecting leftovers in one place.
Photo by Mia Sato/The Verge

In the end, my solution was as low-tech as it gets. Instead of coming up with a clever new way to store these little trinkets, I grabbed a glue stick, scissors and a blank notebook and went to town.

Scrapbooking is an activity that people have been doing for centuries, and once you start it’s clear why it has taken so long. One of my favorite Instagram accounts, @paperofthepast, collects and documents vintage and antique scrapbooks dating back to the 1800s. Scrolling through the photos is as surreal and compelling as it is beautiful, but I try not to dwell too much on what the original owner wrote for fear of making me an intruder to feel. Before I came across the Instagram account, I hadn’t really considered that these documents of the mundane could survive at all.

Generations ago someone was saving cigarettes, food packaging labelsAnd friends fingerprints in bound books. Now 100 years later, the content has been immortalized on social media. It feels a little weird to be able to peer into a stranger’s private musings, but seeing what people thought they could save is surprisingly moving, and the layouts and aesthetics feel incredibly contemporary and modern.

Also scrapbooking is completely filled, even if the material inside does not represent real life. For fake scrapbook videos, it’s the editing process that draws people in. Viral journaling TikTok accounts like @senajournal create Scrapbook videos at the ASMR level by peeling stickers, tearing paper and arranging pieces on the page – but the snippets in question usually come from a piece of decorative paper or images that look like they’ve been ripped from mood boards (some collages even contain ripped pieces of fake paper). italic letters). The pages look perfect and there’s something eerie about the whole exercise. Imagine someone 100 years from now finding a scrapbook and starting a pasted letter,”Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…”

There are few things in modern life that companies haven’t tried to digitize, whether it makes sense or not. From shopping list software to apps that track and share a user’s run route, technical “solutions” are constantly popping up. It happened with collages, too: Last year, Pinterest’s invite-only mood board app, Shuffles, caused a brief frenzy among young people who are desperate to take advantage of it.

Maybe I’m old, but until now nothing beats the physical experience of putting together and revisiting a book of my favorite things that I can hold in my hands. Each piece put in place feels like a new memory stored; it’s hard to imagine getting that satisfaction from clicking “post.” And when it’s time to move on – from one chapter in life or all of this plane of existence – I can do whatever I want with my mess. My random odds and ends hopefully won’t be on some prospective stranger’s Instagram account and certainly not stored in digital form on some companies’ data servers. I prefer the leftovers in their truest form – irregular, imperfect and disposable if necessary.

I really should invest in double sided tape.
Photo by Mia Sato/The Verge