What to do with photos?

In last Thursday’s blog post, I wrote that I’d made measurable progress sorting through the notes and paraphernalia I brought home when I was downsized after 22 years at the same newspaper.

I’m determined to work my way through all the boxes and bags, and to dispose of the items I need to dispose of in a responsible way.

This week, I started going through my pre-digital photo collection – a daunting task.

It sparked some discussion among the friends I walk with, after I expressed doubts about whether it was okay to put photographs – especially those with a shiny finish – in the recycling bin.

I checked the City of Toronto’s recycling guidelines, which mention nothing about photographs per se. The website specifies, however, that paper “not contaminated with food or chemicals” can be recycled.

I decided to call 311, the city’s non-emergency phone number, for a definitive answer. I was advised that photos could go into the regular garbage, but that I might want to contact a photo shop for more information about recycling.

A couple of days ago, I called three stores, and got three different answers.

1. All photo paper – shiny, matte, colour, and black and white – has chemicals, which are used to develop the pictures, according to the first person I spoke to. He suggested calling a hazardous waste disposal company. Groan!

2. The second person advised ripping up the photos, and throwing them in the garbage.

3. Apparently some photographs may be okay to recycle, even though the city says no. Groan, again!

I also found this website, which offers further information and ideas about recycling.

Meanwhile, I’m still sorting. I think it’s decision-making that takes the most time.