By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — Clutter experts say getting rid of accumulated junk will improve your emotional health, and Desiree Whitlow proved that theory true on Thursday.
Whitlow threw her hands in the air in joy after she dropped off a shopping cart's worth of old papers at P.S. 166's communal shredding event on Thursday.
P.S. 166's green committee had a Code Shred truck park for an hour outside the school. Old documents, checks, bank statements, and other paper trash were among the materials the truck accepted for shredding.
Whitlow carted college papers dating back to 1983 to the paper-destroying marathon, timed in honor of Earth Day.
"It was like a weight was lifted," a beaming Whitlow said. "I'm free from entangled garbage. It's overwhelming."
The communal shredding, which cost participants $15, was organized by P.S. 166 parent Emily Fano, chair of the school's green committee.
The event was sponsored by EcoPlum, a company whose mission is to make "going green easy and fun," said EcoPlum founder and P.S. 166 parent Gia Machlin.
Machlin was among the shredders, getting rid of 23 banker's boxes of materials dating back to 1994. "I'm a pack rat," Machlin said. "My husband has been telling me to get of them forever."
Paper and other materials collected at Thursday's shredding was separated by weight and recycled, Machlin said.
The shredding event was part of P.S. 166's larger effort to run a green-minded school, Fano said. The school recently switched its cafeteria trays from Styrofoam to sugar cane, recycles e-waste and bottle caps, and is starting a gardening program in the spring.
P.S. 166 recently saw its efforts rewarded when it won fourth place — and a $10,000 prize — in the 2011 NYC Green Cup, sponsored by the Green Schools Alliance. The contest rewards schools that cut their energy consumption.
But Fano said the paper shredding event was good for the soul as well as the planet.
"Aside from the environmental benefit, there's a space-saving benefit, and energetically, when you clear away junk from your space, it allows new things to flow into your life," Fano said.