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

If it’s the thought that counts, think about it.

I wasn’t going to do much blogging on holiday shopping, but people keep asking me what kind of stuff I’m buying for Christmas gifts or what are good gifts to give that give back to people in need?  So here it is… my brain dump on Christmas shopping.  Yes, I call it Christmas shopping, not holiday shopping.  I suppose we could also call it Black Friday shopping.  It seems as though that’s become a bigger holiday than the actual Christmas holiday we’re shopping for.

Now that I think about it, these principals could apply all year long and to any holiday where it is customary to give a gift.  Birthdays and Christmas are the two big ones.

So what gift shopping is considered good?  Shopping in and of itself is not bad, it’s some of the things associated with it that are bad.  Debt is bad.  Buying gifts for people you don’t want to buy gifts for because you’ve succumbed to the cultural purchasing pressure is bad.  Buying people stuff they don’t want or need is bad.  Spoiling kids with a bunch of stuff they don’t need is bad.  If it’s the thought that counts, then let’s think about it.  There are many positive ways to shop, supporting good for humanity, the environment and for your pocketbook.

Service, not stuff.

You might believe our country is using up most of our planets’ resources and you might be trying to lower your carbon footprint as much as possible, or you might even think that’s all an bunch of hype.  No matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, buying services versus physical goods is, well, all around good.  Why?

  • You’re supporting a skill or a trade.
  • You’re helping the economy without physical stuff.
  • You don’t have to worry if the recipient likes your gift, and the best part? No looking around their house to make sure they’re using the item you gave them and no getting your feelings hurt when they tell you the dog broke it.
  • Maybe the gift recipients will get this concept too, then they won’t give you anymore giant golf ball candles, Chia pets or Santa figures that poop candy.
  • Most service places have gift cards or gift certificates.
  • It takes less time to shop because you can shop at places you do business while everyone else is in line at W*%#@!t.
  • There’s a better chance they’ll have a need for a service than a need for more stuff.  If you need something, or even want something, you go buy it, right?  Why would your giftees be any different?  Well, they could be unemployed.  If that’s the case, they have needs, not wants.

So what are good services to buy?  There are many choices here, some more practical than others.  Some of these services could be provided by you, which means no cost to you other than your time.   Continue reading

old stuff, new stuff, red stuff, blue stuff [minimalist challenge item #187]

[item] Random stuff, ridiculous that I have this much of it.

[purchase info] Some purchased, some given to me, old stuff, new stuff, red stuff, blue stuff

[time in my possession] Who knows?  A long dang time.

[last used] Good question, mostly years ago.

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[replacement item] None

[info] I only have 3 items pictured, carabiners, iPod sock and socks, but this was a few items out of a large bag of stuff like this.  Why do I have all this stuff?  Even if I did need it, I would never (a) remember I have it or (b) be able to find it.

 

used book and trinket gifts [day 208]

A couple of years ago, they started the “360 feedback” process at work.  I’m a fan of it if people use it correctly, but I don’t want to wait until the end of the year to get zapped for something I might have done so long ago, and can’t remember anything about it.  Good or bad, tell me now, let’s not wait and word-craft.

This year, they decided to scrap that plan and do “necessary notes”.  Write a note, good or constructively opportunistic, to the people you work with.  I like that plan.  It still takes a lot of time, but it accomplishes the same things, without the anonymous jabs.

I decided to do this, but do it differently by using repurposed books and objects.  The books contained the notes and each had a bookmark made from string, my recycled info cards and random objects found in my garage.

I thought about making a trashogram from the bookmarks, as most of these items are things I’ve found, gotten for free or found at the thrift store.  Continue reading

cool art made from junk mail [day 207]

I got an awesome little gift a few days ago, unexpected and very much related to trash society.  The gift?  An origami box with a photo album inside, all made with junk mail and paper stuff from the recycling bin.  Check it out…

Continue reading

can’t live with it, can’t live without it… reversed [day 203]

I ran across two interesting things this week, one posted on my Facebook page and the other in a Yahoo! Groups post on Compact.

These sites, xmaswithoutchina.com and the Marie Claire Yahoo! Shopping post, when combined together, portray a picture of our consumeristic “can’t live with it, can’t live without it”, but not necessarily in that order.  First, we must have it.  How many times have you looked at the “made in” tag on something you purchased?  I don’t do it very often, if at all.  Well, not now anyway, because of the challenge.  But before, when I was shopping, I rarely looked at these tags.  It’s a law that the place of origin, or manufacturing place be listed on the item, or on the packaging.

I decided to pick up 50 random items in my house to see where they were made.  My findings were not surprising.  60% were made in China, 38% in other countries besides the USA and 2% in the USA.  The 2%, accounting for one item, is an art bowl, purchased at a local art show.  Just in case you’re wondering, the items were such things as clothing, electronic games, toys, computer equipment, home decor items, alarm system, cookware, bedding, light fixtures and small appliances.

The Christmas without China is a challenge to take everything made in China out of your house and to shop for Christmas gifts, making sure none are made there.  This is the start of a documentary on this subject, by a man from China.

The 19 unusual gifts nobody wants is crazy stuff, available for purchase just in time for Christmas.  Let’s look at a couple of these items.   Continue reading

10 days until Christmas…

Yesterday I was pondering my favorite Bible verse, Romans 12:2.  It’s so applicable to the Christmas consumerism and might just be another clue in finding the Christmas spirit.  Here is the verse in two popular translations.

NIVDon’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The MessageDon’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

This one short verse floods my mind with vivid images, many of them exist as photo light paintings in a collection I’ve entitled “excessable”.  I was also inspired to paint this abstract rendition of Romans 12:2 earlier this year.

The details on this canvas were painted with cookie cutters and guitar strings.  I always start painting with brushes, but end up painting with my hands and three dimensional objects.  I guess I do that because I like the feel of the paint and the energy that goes into the painting by touching it.  I also like finding objects that produce intriguing impressions, creating a visual adventure on the canvas.  You can often find the ‘hidden’ eye candy in my art pieces if you look long enough.  Continue reading