I need a magic pill… bottle [day 25 & 26]

pill-bottle-reuse-recycleI decided to bring my son’s pill bottle back to the pharmacy for a refill.  I had the new prescription, but I certainly didn’t need a new container.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When I arrived, I stood in line, not only with the empty pill bottle, but also the little paper bag they put it in.  That’s biodegradable, so I didn’t have to do that.  When I got to the counter, I briefly explained what I was doing and awaited a reply.  The lady working the counter wasn’t sure.  She turned and asked the pharmacist.  He said, “Sure.  We can take the label off and refill it.”  Yes, success!!!  Continue reading

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

the excess depletion project [minimalist challenge item #313]

[item] Small table lamp

[purchase info] Given to me by some good friends

[time in my possession] Approximately a year?

[last used] A month ago in my kitchen

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Freecycle

[replacement item] None, I moved a lamp from another spot in my house.

[info] I got this from my friends Jason and Carrie.  That’s important because they are now doing their own version of a minimalist project.  You can read about the Excess Depletion Project on their blog at blessedorexcess.blogspot.com.

…customers will form a line outside the store…

I love reading and making fun of the Black Friday ads, but better than that, reading the fine print can be quite entertaining.  I started this last year on black friday.  I got to do it this year with my friends Jason and Carrie.  You can read last year’s post about this or just read this year’s insanity.  Get out your reading glasses…

Let’s start with the big stuff.

ACADEMY.COM OPEN THANKSGIVING DAY!  Wow!  What a great idea!!  Have your online story open on Thanksgiving day!!  Why didn’t anyone else think of that???  LOWES.COM says you can start on Thursday.  Sure glad they gave me permission!

Guitar Center:  They have happy returns and surprise protection.  And you can shop from your smartphone!  Again, why didn’t I think of that???

Kohl’s Early Bird Deal:  For $19.99 (regularly $49.99) you can get a motion-activated candy dispenser.  (a) It’s plastic crap nobody needs, (b) do you really want candy spilling out on the floor every time you walk by this thing?  (c) It probably takes batteries, and really big ones.  (d) Does your family need candy?  You probably still have leftovers from Halloween.  (e) Candy not included.

Now for some fine print.

Old Navy:  Customers will form a line outside the store.  I guess it’s good to be prepared.  It’s kind of presumptuous though.  And they’re giving out cameras.  If they’re a clothing store, why give out cameras?  I just don’t get it.

Burlington:  *Savings off other fine department stores.  Great!  they’re cheaper than Neiman Marcus!  I’m getting a deal!!

Dick’s Sporting Goods:  Something about a cash bonus.  Here’s a picture of it, because I cannot read it easily and it would take so long to figure out what this deal really is that it’s just not worth it.  The one thing we know is that your $99 purchase must be all the same brand, even though they have 3 brands pictured.  Don’t even think about mixing and matching!

 

tomorrow is the last day! [day 364]

No, I’m not predicting the end of the world.  It’s the last day of the challenge!  It’s been a really good year.  I thought I might look back at the post from day 1.  Wow!  A lot has changed since then!!  Here’s the first post.

Day one of any long time period challenge is more of a normal time than a reality check of the radical decision you just committed to.  I decided to do this challenge very early in the morning, which is the time my monkeys are the most active.  Yeah, I should probably explain that.  My friend Steve says my thoughts are like a bunch of monkeys next to a banana tree, so we frequently refer to the monkeys in my head.  Monkeys are fun and cute, so we’ll go with it.

So I had breakfast with my kids and decided to tell them the news!  We will not be shopping retail for a year.  No new toys, no new video games, no new clothes.  After the silence, then denial, they reluctantly agreed that it was a good plan, although they thought a year was a bit excessive.  Well, with all the excess in our society, why not add a little more excess?  LOL

The ironic thing here is that I still have to shop sometimes for work, and this being the first day of the challenge, I had to go to Ikea for stage set stuff.  I had an Ikea gift card for $50 in my wallet, just to complicate things.  So off I went to shop, placing the stage items in the cart, along with a few things that I could buy with the gift card.  Well, as we all justify the stuff we absolutely need, my justification here was that I should use up the gift card since it probably will get lost or decrease in value over a year.  As I was about to check out, I put the stuff back.  I don’t NEED it and I’m not even sure I WANT it.  I was there, I had ‘Ikea’ money and everyone needs more stuff, right?  I still have the gift card and plan to give it to someone I know that is getting his first apartment and actually has a few basic needs.

I told a few people about my plans, or my challenge.  A few people thought it was a good idea and were not surprised.  (They obviously know me well and there’s not many things I can do to surprise anyone)  Others said it was cool, but they could never do it.  Let me just say here that I like to shop, but not like most people.  I hate malls and I hate spending money.  I like material things though.  There.  I said it.  I have an internal struggle with wanting simple and less fighting with a desire for more.  I was raised in a very materialistic house.  I have to call it a house, not a home, because a much higher value was placed on the material things in the house, not the people living in it.

I suppose I’m doing this to prove to myself that I don’t need a lot of stuff.  I’m also doing this for my kids to teach them about another world, a crazy different world that exists outside this wealthy, affluent bubble we live in.  A world where poverty and hunger exist because 20% of the world has 80% of the stuff, including food and water.  As Gandhi said,“There’s enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed.”

This challenge is a very small step.  I know I have a long way to go here, but if everyone just made some really small sacrifice, our world would change in a radically wonderful way.  The monkeys are still processing all of this, along with my kids.  Off to day 2…

I had an art show several years ago called Excessable, all of the photographs depicting the excess in our society, how accessible it is and how it doesn’t fulfill us.  I’ve used some of these before in my blog posts, but today, they have more meaning to me.

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make money with excess! [day 351]

Just in case you ever wondered about the excess in our society, here’s a nice picture of it.  No, this was not a shopping trip for personal gain, this was a shopping trip for resale.  My friend supported herself and her son for well over a year through an eBay business.  She bought all of this at deep discounts and resold it.  Some of this is mine, as I did the same thing.  It’s a lucrative business and takes a lot of time, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.

I suppose this is a positive side of consumerism in some ways.  If you’re motivated and looking for ways to make extra money, or in this case, to survive, the opportunities are out there.  I shut down my eBay business 5 years ago.  It was great extra money, but I decided to focus elsewhere.  :)

fast waste [day 315]

I love pretty much any condiment, mustard, ketchup, sour cream, grape jelly, salsa… you name it.  I’ve been referred to as the condiment queen.  This is a problem to me in the world of fast food.  There’s so much plastic and paper waste associated with it.  I looked up condiment packaging and found a few eco-friendly alternatives.  For me, this brings up a bigger question.  The word “ECO” is used a lot these days.  I’m glad people are coming up with eco-friendly options that are much better for the environment, but here’s my question.

Should we just be content with using products that are a little bit better for the environment or should we be trying to scale back our use of disposable products?

I’m trying to do both.  I’m not always successful as you can see in the photo, but those were given with my meal, not upon request, but just assumed I would eat them all.  I’ve cut way back on the fast food consumption over the past year.  Meals are supposed to be a time of fellowship and relaxation.  If my lifestyle needs fast food, I need to make some changes.

My ideas were validated a few days ago by the cost of fast food.  My 2 boys and I went to Sonic.  I’m usually all over the price shopping part of eating, but this day, I decided to let them order whatever they wanted.  They both ordered modestly, as did I.  Almost $18.00 spent and the kids were still hungry.  A few days later, we went to a sit-down restaurant.  This time it was me and the kids, but we brought a friend along as well.  Including ‘good’ food for all of us, one beer and one dessert, the total was around $35, including the tip.  There’s a price for all that packaging, not to mention the nutritional value of fast food.

Also, I’m not sure why, but the magic number of napkins seems to be 6.  Why do I need 6 napkins with a sandwich?  Do I look that messy?  If they give out 5 extra napkins per person, with an average customer count of 450 a day, that’s 2,250 napkins that go in a landfill.  And that’s just napkins.

I’m not saying I will never eat fast food again (although I’m leaning in that direction), but I will be doing it even less now.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat fast food either.  We should all be aware of the effects of it though.  There are times where the fast food meal is not a bad idea, but doing it regularly will cost you a lot of money, aid in destroying our earth and eventually will break your heart.

mom!! the ice cream truck!! [day 312]

I have really come to hate the taunting music played from the ice cream truck, getting louder as it gets closer to my house.  As soon as I hear the fain sounds of it, I know what’s next.  Mom!!!!!  The ice cream truck!!!!!!  My kids know I’m not a fan of the van filled with overpriced, well advertised sugar products, stopping to fill the air with carbon monoxide and invading my territory.  While I was away and had a sitter, they went to the truck.  My youngest, knowing I would not be happy about this, decided to make something good out of it.  He decide to get something that was in a container we could reuse, and he also talked all his friends into doing the same.

We use these little containers in our lunch bags.  I did not end here.  The next time the ice cream truck came by, I said, “No.”  After much deliberation, I decided to have some fun with this.  I let him go out and get some ice cream from the truck.  I think I freaked out my neighbors, but here’s what happened…

 

 

I haven’t checked at Kroger yet to see if they carry Popsicle Shots, but I’ll be checking today.  I’m all about people making a living in creative ways, and the ice cream truck driver is a good way to make some money.  It’s like fast food that comes to your house with dessert.  I never buy this for my kids, I make them use their own money.  If they feel good about the purchase, then I’ll go with it.  I don’t always say yes to the ice cream truck, but I don’t always say no.  Balance.  It’s all about balance.

 

the affects of effects [day 306]

It starts when we’re born.  Accessories.  “My daddy is the best” and “My mom is better than your mom” on our shirts, iconic pacifiers, hair bows in more styles and colors than Baskin Robbins has flavors, complete ensembles of coordinated clothing, all in large quantities.  When did babies become fashion statements?  Aren’t they cute enough already?  I see a lot of people talking to parents with small babies and hearing more compliments about the clothing than the kid wearing them.

It continues through adolescence, expanding to toys and games.  I have boys (thank you God) that don’t care much about fashion and will probably need future therapy for their lack of stylish clothing options.  They do however have accessories.  They have Nintendo DS’s that have lots of games, a universal charger, a fancy light sabre stylus and headphones, all packed inside a custom case.  Society says, “You need more” and we respond by buying more.

Into adulthood now, and I’m not exempt from this.  I might not have a lot of fancy, trendy clothing but I do have some nice things in my house.  Most from eBay, craigslist and thrift stores, but nevertheless, lots of things.  Accessories.  I have decorative things that serve no purpose other than to sit there and look nice.  Now I’m an artist of sorts, so this is an important topic.  I love to create things, but with a purpose.  Much of my art is chaotic, but has meaning and purpose behind it.  The vase sitting on my shelf, not so much.  I’ve been sucked into the American vortex of more is better.  I created this photograph several years ago.  This has many meaning for many people, but I see it as how we become background fixtures in the sea of stuff we own.

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let’s move in together [day 220]

I went to the movies on Christmas day and saw the movie How Do You Know.  I don’t do chick-flicks and the way I ended up at this movie was a text message gone wrong.  It wasn’t horrible, but it’s really just not my type of movie.

While waiting for the movie to start, after the 15 minutes of commercials, there must have been no less than 10 previews for upcoming movies.  I guess they figure if you’re at a chick-flick / relationship type movie, that you want to know all the similar movies coming out soon.  Not so much, but hey, I’m not their target audience.  And that “don’t make your own soundtrack” commercial?  My soundtrack might have been better.

I guess sex sells, as this movie, the previews and even some of the commercials were all about it.  I think the question asked in title of the movie is asking, “how do you know if you’re in love?”  I have no answer for this, and not sure I ever will, but the way they’re showing relationships is not going to answer any such question.  Maybe they were asking something else.

I talk a lot on this blog about the excess in our society, and relationships seem to be no exception.  People are entertained by all kinds of sexual situations.  I was highly disturbed to see in Toy Story 3 that Ken, who just met Barbie 10 minutes earlier, asks her to move into his dreamhouse.  She said, “yes,” after getting the okay from Mrs. Potatohead.  Does anyone else see a problem with this?  This is not what I’m teaching my kids, but it is what they’re learning in our society.   Way to go Pixar. Continue reading