Stuff – Guaranteed to make plans go awry, create angst

Cutting down on plastics and chemicals is hard. Damned hard.

Shopping on Saturday, needed mayonnaise. Guess what? All brands come in plastic. Except for the natural and organic brands, which cost $6 a pint. I can make my own for that. I stood there in front of the wall of mayo choices, dithering. I should make my own. I know I should. It doesn’t take that long really. It tastes better. Tom, knowing that realistically, I can’t make it often enough to keep up with our demand, grabbed a plastic jar. Curses, bought plastic again.

Testing green shampoos

Sunday night I had to admit defeat on the first of my shampoo tests. After three days of shampooing with the Dr Bronners/green tea concoction my hair was about as soft and sexy as a two by four. It would hardly bend. The individual strands were stuck together, it was impossible to brush. I tried. Afterward my brush resembled a candle, it was coated in wax. Worse yet, each time I touched my hair my hand came away feeling like I’d used my fingers to spread butter on toast. I think the suggestion was a hoax by some chemistry student having a laugh at the expense of those whose last chem class was a long time ago. Moving on to goat milk soap or JR Liggets, whichever I can get my hands on first.

Boats vs birds

Most of my plans for weekend bliss evaporated too. I spent a little time at the beach Saturday morning photographing all the weekend visitors,

Noteworthy: There were no sea and shore birds around. The land based birds were as busy as ever but no ducks, no loons, no herons. Not even one seagull. The only difference I could see was all these boats that had sailed in and anchored for a party.

Real world work

Then Tom found me and the lazy morning was over.

That’s the threshold for the door at the lower right corner of the picture above. He brought it down to the beach with him to show me what he had to do to make it work. This is a very specialized door we’re talking about.

Specialized or not, we really thought we could get that door installed and do some fun stuff too. But reality intervened. Tom’s run a bunch of projects through the shop lately and the remnants, scraps, leftover supplies and disordered tools made it impossible to take on the next one. So we ended up cleaning and sorting. Then we took a load of junk and recycling to the Solid Waste complex.

It was my idea. As usual it nearly killed me.

Getting rid of excess stuff

I always head to the dump feeling virtuous. I’ve done all this work, I’ve actually cleaned! The house (or shop) will be so much better now.

I always leave the dump feeling that we’re all doomed. I cannot believe the amount of perfectly good JUNK people throw away. In fact, I cannot believe the amount of JUNK that gets made in the first place, the totally useless crap we get convinced we should buy. Check out The Story of Stuff for all the data.

I’m an example

We moved into our house before it was finished. In order to do that we installed a temporary kitchen. Tom threw together an island cabinet out of plywood. It was ugly, but at least we had a sink and dishwasher and a counter. The sink was from a Kohler showroom, they couldn’t sell it as new, so Tom got it for a song. It was a great sink. One nice deep bay for washing the turkey roasting pan and bathing small children. One shallower bay for rinsing vegetables and … not much else really. For years that was our kitchen.

We finally installed a real kitchen last year and recycled many of the parts. The old island cabinet is now a dog washing station at a grooming shop. The sink – though a good one, cast iron, white not some dorky, faddy color, in good shape, no dings – we could not give away. We put it on Freecycle. No one wanted it. This weekend we loaded it up and took it to the dump with us, hoping to donate it to the little thrift store section. They wouldn’t take it. So we ended up adding it to the huge pile of metal. I hope they can recycle it and it doesn’t end up in the landfill.

No two ways about it, there is just too much stuff being made. So much that even high quality stuff instantly becomes garbage as soon as we get it home.

To top it all off, we paid fifty dollars to get rid of that sink and some plywood scrap. I’m not complaining about the cost of dumping trash – everything has a price tag. What I’m complaining about is the amazing way we thoughtlessly accumulate and at how little of the detritus can be reused. I keep hoping that with all we’ve learned about the need to reduce, the tide will start to flow the other way, but my trips to the dump continue to depress me.

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