Random thoughts about disposable stuff [day 20 & 21]

I haven’t had much time to blog, but I have run into many crazy situations and learned a lot over the past few days.  Here are a few random things.

7I’m reading the book 7: Mutiny Against Excess.  (a) I should have written a book about all of my challenges and experiences.  Shane Claibourne is my hero too.  I also think the world will someday be like a scene from the Book of Eli.  (b)  This book very much parallels with this challenge.  It’s a really good read.  It will mess you up, in a good way.

space shipI wonder what the aliens think of us?  We’re a pretty wasteful society.  I guess their thoughts about planet earth may depend on where they land their spaceship.  America?  Africa?  Mexico?  Finland?

the-colony-tv-showA post-apocalyptic world.  My kids have started watching a new show called The Colony.  Yes, I know, 2009 is not new, but it’s new to us. We only have Netflix.  The program follows some people who must survive in a simulated post-apocalyptic environment.  No, I didn’t make them watch it.  They started watching it and insisted I watch it with them.  It’s a good follow-up to MacGyver, Pawn Stars and Mythbusters.  They have to live off waste and old junk.   Continue reading

Back in the day… [day 18 & 19]

On my recent road trip, I found so many interesting things to photograph.  Most of the interesting things were vintage or antique.  What’s the difference?  My boss asked that question on Facebook a few months ago.  Vintage is 7+ years old and antique is 50+ years old.  Just for the record, I’m still vintage.

Life has changed radically over the past few decades.  Here’s a few photos I found interesting.

vw bug slugbugSlug bug!  I just had to stop and take a photo of this VW Bug, sitting in front of an auto salvage yard.  It’s probably out front because people still love these little beauties.  Some turn them into art projects, some restore them and some use them for parts.

This car, brand new, back in 1969 cost about $1,800.  The same car now (44 years later, for those of you who hate math), brand new, costs $19,995 for the basic model.  A restored 1969 model in decent shape is in the $4,000 range.   Continue reading

Observations of a mad woman [day 9]

Observations of a mad woman trying to be environmentally responsible:

I’m mad.  Crazy mad and mad that simple alternatives are not even on the radar.

Almond milk is good, but I’ll likely go back to my regular skim milk.  I will make this on occasion though.  Plastic milk containers can be recycled, wax-coated cartons cannot.

It’s not easy to be a container label-reader.  Unless you have memorized the cryptic plastic symbols or the company has chosen to be helpful, telling you if the packaging is recyclable, forget it.  Most of the time I’m guessing.

Here’s how the system works. If the packaging can be reused or recycled, or is made from recycled products, it will be listed as such.  If not, it won’t say anything.  Promote the good, ignore the bad.  If nothing else comes out of this, I should use my design skills and simplify the recycling types labels and present my simple system to the EPA.  Even is I was trying to shop for recyclable containers, many would be difficult to identify.  Next time you shop, try reading the labels.  What did you find?

gab-the-box-terracycle

I found this label intriguing.  Terracycle?  Never heard of it.  Bag the Box?  That makes sense, but I need more info.  Continue reading

Craptastic [day 8]

turtle-in-a-hamster-wheelCraptastic.  I stole this word from my boss.  It’s the word you use when nothing is going as planned and you have absolutely no control over it.  I spent a good part of the day with slow internet, partial CMS and way too much to get done.  The only visual way I could think of to depict this?  A turtle on a hamster wheel.

shredded paperWith that being said, I’m going to keep this post short.  Two of my friends brought me shredded paper to make homemade kitty litter.  I’ve had no time to do that, of course, but at least I have supplies.  That’s all for today folks!  I’m sure today will bring many adventures in the land of disposableville.

I am not a throw away girl [day 7]

rethink-good-trash-can-metal-no-symbol-tiaraI wrote this a few days ago.  It goes to the tune of Madonna’s song Material Girl.  I think I might need to do a music video with it.  :)

Not a Throw-Away Girl

Some stores discount, some stores ship stuff
I think they’re okay
If they don’t give me reusable options
I just walk away

They can bag and they can stock  
But they can’t see the light, that’s right ‘
Cause the stores without the plastic
Are always in the right, ’cause we are

Living in a disposable world
And I am not a throw away girl
You know that we are living in a disposable world
And I am not a throw away girl

Some use paper, some have bulk
And that’s all right with me
If they can’t use my glass containers
I have to let them be

Some stores try and some stores lie but
Much to my dismay, they sway!
Only stores who save their planet
Make my every day, ’cause they are

Living in a disposable world
And I am not a throw away girl
You know that we are living in a disposable world
And I am not a throw away girl

Stores may come and stores may go
And that’s all right you see
The economy will crash someday
And everyone will see, that we are

Victims of a disposable world
And I am not a throw away girl
You know that we are living in a disposable world
And I am not a throw away girl  Continue reading

Change me! Change me! [day 1]

singing-air-filter-hvac-music-notesI woke up to the whistling sound of my return air duct singing, “Change me!  Change me!  I’ve sucked in as much dust and dirt as my little fibers can handle.”  Yes, of course it’s a disposable filter.  I know they make non-disposable filters, but they’re very expensive and I’ve been told they don’t work as well.  I guess I’ll be researching that today, as I have no plans to just turn it off and freeze to death.  (What?  It’s possible to freeze to death in 50° weather.)  Continue reading

I’ve come to a plastic fork in the road [a new challenge]

plastic fork in the road

This little plastic fork was photographed in its natural habitat… a parking lot.

This has been on my mind for a while.  I try my best every day not to use anything disposable, especially if there are other options or if I can do without.  You might be asking, “What does that mean?  Plastic forks?  Napkins?  Plastic bags?  Toilet paper?”  Here’s what I mean.  Any time I have a choice, I go with something non-disposable.  If I’m eating at work, I’m the oddball that grabs a metal fork, while others clutch their plastic forks.  I’m not saying that to be judgmental, I’m saying it to make a point that it’s the acceptable norm.  We are so surrounded by disposable containers, disposable utensils and disposable gadgets, that finding alternatives is difficult, if not impossible.

Here’s the plan.  For one month, I will not buy anything in disposable containers.  Continue reading

is it really any different because you buy it somewhere else?

I said, “No fast food through the end of the year.”  Why?  Mostly because of the wastefulness of it.  The amount of disposable plastics, paper and styrofoam bothers me.  We do fast food places out of convenience.  I just wanted to see how badly I needed fast food in my life.  My kids have missed it a little bit, but not much.  I also miss it on occasion, but not too much either.

I had to work today, and right after work, I had to bring a main dish to a potluck lunch.  I went to Cane’s Chicken.  It’s clearly a fast food place, complete with a drive-thru and lots of paper waste.  I bought in bulk, only buying the tailgate 25 piece pack.  Now I could have stopped at Kroger and picked up some chicken that was already prepared.  It would also be in disposable containers, although I could have placed it in a reusable bag.  So my big questions is…

Is it any different buying prepackaged (prepared) food at the grocery store versus a fast food place?

I have to answer, “No.”   I will still continue my no fast food places, but I need to add on these simple shopping changes.

  • Compare.  If the paper waste is the thing that’s bothering me, whether I shop at the grocery store or anywhere else, I need to consider the waste involved.  Just because I buy it at the grocery store doesn’t mean that I’m not being wasteful.
  • Call it what it is.  The grocery store has fast food.  It’s in the form of deli sandwiches, sushi, fountain drinks and many other forms.  If I buy a ham sandwich already made at Tom Thumb, that’s the same as buying a burger from a fast food place.  Same container, same pre-made food, same waste amount.
  • Plan.  I should have done a better job planning ahead for my potluck meal.  I could have made something the night before and picked it up on the way over there.  My bad.

There’s a new container-less grocery store opening this fall in Austin, TX called in.gredients… if they meet their fundraising goals.  I love this idea!!  Listen to the radio talk about it.  This is such a cool concept!  See how it works.

This is greatness.  Maybe I should help them get rolling in Austin, then I’ll open one here.  Check out the in.gredients website.

you can learn a lot from a dummy [day 358]

I get teased pretty often about my use of paper towels, or should I say lack of use?  Over the last year I might have used almost 4 or 5 rolls and 3 of them were in the first part of the year.  I don’t have any now.  When people come over to eat and I did have paper towels, I would tear them into smaller pieces.  Now I use cloth napkins.  I clean my house with dish towels, not paper towels.  If I’m out somewhere and I get extra napkins that I know will be throw away, I take them home.  I might go a little toward the extreme side of things, but there are ways to cut down on disposable paper products, ways that aren’t difficult or time consuming.

When I cleaned out my garage a couple of months ago, I found an individually wrapped paper towel.  I keep this in my (minimalist) junk drawer.  It freaks people out that I would even have something like this.  I don’t know where it came from, but I make jokes about it being my emergency paper towel.  Continue reading

the 100 thing challenge [day 335]

I met Dave Bruno several weeks ago at SXSW.  He’s the author of The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life and Regained My Soul.  The basis of the book is simplicity, minimalism and living with less stuff.  I finished reading his book several weeks ago, a great book with many good lessons in it.

Many of the lessons he learned through his downsizing process, I have also learned through my no retail shopping challenge.  My one big take-away from this book was in chapter 6, “Purging Things and Things Past,” where he got rid of his train set.  Dave had planned to build this model train set with his dad’s vision of it, which never came to fruition in his childhood.  The reason this stood out to me is his realization of the stress associated with ownership.  We place expectations on our stuff, creating a distention of our dreams, inclusive of our material possessions.  Once he got rid of the trains, the expectations he placed on himself to create something with them were gone, releasing him from the pressure having another thing to do.   Continue reading