Thursday, September 20, 2007

Want to start not-buying things? Start by not-buying this!

I am generally a very environmentally conscious guy. I walk rather than drive wherever practical, ride an 80 MPG motorscooter at risk of life and limb (and Divorce), and I am pretty religous about the "3 R's" of Environmental Responsibility: Reduce , Reuse and Recycle.

The Second and Third of those "R's" conflict with the having a clean house that's free of Junk. It's not just me; this gets a lot of people in trouble. "I better not throw this out, I could reuse it someday," they say. "I will save this, and give it to my neighbor/favorite charity/heir" As a result, They end up with an accumulation of:
  1. Fabric scraps
  2. Wires and cables
  3. Mismatched Tupperware containers/lids
  4. Promotional t-shirts/caps/buttons/magnets/tote bags/whistles/lanyards/etc.
  5. Scraps of wood/tile/chicken-wire
  6. Computers and/or computer parts
  7. Pre-digital cameras/film/equipment
  8. Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and Ghost Dad on VHS tape
  9. "Queen's Greatest Hits" Cassette Tapes
  10. 1.44 MB Floppy Disks
  11. 1/4 Full buckets of paint
  12. And so on, and so on, and so on....
The cure for this, of course, is the first "R", REDUCE. This is where the often-competing "Be Earth-Friendly" and "Keep an Uncluttered Home" motivations line up perfectly. Avoid getting a bunch of stuff in the first place, and you won't be faced with the conundrum of responsibly disposing of it once it inevitably becomes unwanted junk. And, to state the obvious, you save lots of money by not buying stuff, too. This appeals to the "Be A Real Tightwad" motivation. The number of furniture pieces in my home that I bought from a store can be counted on one hand. And I don't even need most of the hand. My wife and I have had the vast majority of our furniture given to us - by family, friends, church members, and co-workers. Same goes for our electronics; our TV/VCR, Microwave, and both of our DVD players were given to us, and my desktop computer is made from mostly discarded parts.

There are, as you might expect, problems with this approach to life. The TV/VCR combo has several features that cannot be used without the original remote control, which Becca's dog used as a chew toy about eight years ago, and the Display screen on our microwave hasn't worked for a couple of years. All that second-hand furniture, while comfy, doesn't even remotely match, and some of it still has the marks from a toddler's artistic experimentation with an ink pen. (That toddler probably has his learner's permit by now.)

Anyway, If you are ready to start saving the world and your wallet by not buying things, I have the perfect thing to not-buy first. The Cork Pops Wine Bottle Opener! Why use a simple Corkscrew, when you can use a High-Tech, State-of-the-Art, Pneumatic Cork-removal Device? Never mind that you have to buy disposable replacement CO2 canisters for it to continue working into the future!

Honestly, Who dreamed this up? I saw one of these gizmos at the Sharp Shopper (though not the brand-name version, of course), and was immediately taken by how redundant and un-useful it was. I mean, doesn't a corkscrew get the job done pretty well? Why would you want one that required "re-loading"? Turns out, it isn't quite as bad as I thought - One CO2 canister is good for 60-80 bottles (according to the website), but still... Not to mention the safety implications. When I imagine forcing pressurized gas into a glass container, the results might not be pretty.

If you would like to pare down the level of junk in your life, you can get a lot of ideas about how to cut the clutter in your home at


Anonymous said...

Release (Sometimes it really is garbage)


Anonymous said...

I believe the correct most concise term for #4 is swag

Elizabeth said...

as far as #9 goes, well, we all know that this is what happens when you leave tapes in your car for more than a fortnight ; )

Incidentally, I'm currently listening to Tchaikovskii's "Another One Bites the Dust"

Frank Gibson said...

Yes, I could have just said swag, but it certainly sounds more clutter-y the way I said it.

Liz, glad you noticed the joke included 'specially fer you!