Monday, March 19, 2012

Consumerism Capitalizes on Children's Desire for Productive Play

Boondoggle (project), term for a scheme that wastes time and money
And for sharing.  I just learned about the word Boondoggle!  A good word to describe unnecessary, wasteful, or fraudulant projects.  Boy sounds like a word that could often be applied tot the work that my children bring home.  The Scouts make what they call Boon Doggles  out of gimp, plastic cord, and this is an exceptional example of such work.  It is a braided piece, without much use, except decoration if you are 'into' 'that look'.  The take many, many hours to braid, and somehow it holds their attention.  My daughter has finished hers after about six months of hours of work off and on.  Now, what to do with it!  That is just it... there is NOTHING to do with it!  More Waste, to landfill.

I would really like to work with the children on making better use of their time.  I see great value in their play.  But consumerism has capitalized on children's natural inclination to be 'productiv'/  Children want to produce things and have meaningful work.  It is a conundrum.  There are oodles of 'kits' for children at the stores.  Often thse can be easily given as a gift, and the child will enjy the independence of doing this prepackaged wore.  However, should we be teaching our children that these projects are meaningful work?

Now I am sure that there are instances where these kits are spot on for certain situations.  We have not found that to be so for us.  For instance, my daughter recieved a kit for making a hanging decoration, and it was not cheap inexpensive.  When complete, after an hour or two of time,  it was some shiny silver paper with her name on it, linked together with some plastic clips...perhaps we could hang it over her the end she voted it to the landfill...

Now, she did have fun making it.  But then it was wasteful, and I could tell it bothered her to dispose of it.  She did not want it, but it was her work, a gift from a friend, and she has an awareness that trash does not just disappear.  We have always pointed that out to the children. Every time we pass the landfill, we remind them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Recycling Crayola Markers

I am working on getting a LOT of stuff gone through in hopes of making a serious dent in the quantity of stuff in our house.  While working on an ongoing project, during which I found several boxes of unopened Crayola Markers.  We have a great marker holder from Lake and Shore and we love it,  I think we are outgrowing it.

Will joyfully refilling it I began to muse at how wasteful markers are  :(  They always go in the trash, so we will be using up our stash, and buying no more.  After all I biked 6 miles with a backpack full of glass jars so that i would not need to use packaging to buy bulk foods at our local Whole Foods...

The used up markers sat on the counter while I procrastinated on throwing them in the trash, feeling guilty.  I decided to just check Crayola's website.  Guess what!?  They are #5 recycles!!!  This is not that recyclable, but it is recyclable in most communities.  There is a disclaimer here though, the nibs and ink reservoirs are not recyclable, so they would have to be removed first.  Crayola suggests recycling the caps, but has a disclaimer as to removing the nib and reservoir--please use this link to view the full disclosure and discussion.  Reader assumes all liabilities for their choices and actions.

I used the needle nose pliers to remove the nib, took about 2 seconds and then those did not open enough to get around that nub at the other end.  I grabbed the wire cutters and just used those to grab that nub and pull it out.  I was then able to take a pencil and poke the reservoir out of the tube. Please do this at your own discretion, reader must use his own judgement  before trying, and note that as Crayola warns,  you should probably just put it in the land fill.  I am only saying this is what I did and will do with the  rest of the markers we have left.  Oh, and don't let the kids find the reservoirs  ;)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Here Have Some STUFF

I can see stuff everywhere in yet don't know which direction to go.  On those days I tried to just pick just 1 thing. 1 thing to do. 1 thing to organize. Or 1 thing to get rid of. yesterday was one on those days. I picked 1 thing to get rid of for starters. I sometimes write things down at night but it's too late for me actually do them, but I wanna make sure that I don't forget. On a day when I'm stuck, I can consult my little notebook and choose 1 simple thing to do.

 I also like to list crazy big projects that probably won't get done, but well, I guess it's another form of purging, I'm purging my mind .

 So, a quick check of the book, and I see a good idea to get rid of an extra waffle iron. "No", you're thinking, "how do you have an extra waffle iron?"  Well, I had 1 for the house and 1 for our camper. For a long time the 1 the camper got so much use it was amazing,  as well as the 1 in the house .  Then we bought a griddle. The griddle was so handy, we used it all the time, so instead of making waffles we found ourself making pancakes and the little waffle iron never came out.  Somewhere along the way, we completely forgot about the waffle iron. That is until I was considering this whole minimalist thing, in racking my brain for easy things to get rid of I remembered this now unused item.

 I have a friend who to taught me how to make almond flour waffles, as I am trying to reduce the amount of wheat I am eating. Today she came to visit, and I happen to mention "do you need a waffle iron?".  She replied that indeed she did, she felt that hers was on its way out. And so that was 1 item released from my stuff, and a gift to a worthy friend!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reducing my Stash

I have a LOT of material for sewing.  Too much. So I slated some to leave and then decided not to because it was too much to decide.  Then very suddenly decided to just pull a 'good amount' off of the shelves.  About 17 bolts of fabric left.

Funny the shelves are still full looking.  Obviously there has to be more space there than before...
I don't think I will miss it.  Wonder how many pounds that was? A Lot, my husband was a dear and carried it all for (for the second time, the first being into the house).  I hope it all finds a use.  I often wonder how much of the stuff i give to others who want it just ends up in a landfill eventually.  Well, I have done my best, I was a good steward, kept it in good usable condition and passed it on.

Here is a major plus, I had about 25 requests for my 2 gallons of ceiling paint after posting it on Freecycle!  But coordinating a pick up was amazingly difficult, with people asking me to drive 45 minutes to drop it off?!  Well when the woman came for the cloth I offered it up as an extra freebie and she snapped it up for her brother.  Once something is slated to go, I just hate having it hang around.

Things they purged from the drawer to 
make it easier to access 
While making lunch the children were asked to review their tableware drawer.  The necessity of this drawer is waning.  It was the one where we kept non-breakable dishes for the kids to open and play with when they were toddlers.  We do still have the occasional toddler in the house, but I don't think that merits a whole drawer in the prime real estate area.  The kids however, are sort of possessive of the space.  It is easier for them and their friend to get to this than it is to get to the cabinets, which they have to drag a stool over for.  .

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Composting Slippers : Shoe Clean Out

Shoe Cubbies after Reducing
We had too many shoes by the door!  An understatement, considering my dh built me a shoe cubby with 5 slots for each of us.  Once again I forgot to take a before picture.

We found 4 pairs of summer shoes, that we put in a bin in the closet.  Then we found 1 pair of boots with a busted zipper, they were pretty used looking, so while they were probably repairable, but I do not have the funds to repair, and they were on the cusp of being outgrown.  If I had donated them they would throw them away.  So with some angst I did dispose of them.  I thought of offering on freecycle, however, it is unlikely that someone would be willing to put the $ into having them repaired.  I have tried selling new, unworn children's Ecco shoes for $15 and had no luck!  I would snap them up if I had a child that size, but people around here must feel that it is too much, and people willing to pay for quality just buy them new for $80 I guess. Also, I am in the process of trying to give away 2 gallons of good ceiling paint.  I have had at least 10 inquiries, but the pick up coordination is truly discouraging.

These are the shoes that left, except the Mary Janes, they were repaired
I repaired two of the pairs of shoes my older daughter outgrew so my younger can wear them.  The Wool slippers are from the wool of local sheep.  I had spun it into yarn and used Kool-Aid to dye it.  My son had worn a hole in the toe.  My daughter asked me to repair for her, but she has 3 pairs of usable slippers.  So I chose to compost these!!!

The little Ecco hiking boots will hopefully find some happy feet to take hiking.  My husband asked how I made it look so tidy!  My take-away from this is that I intend to buy no more slippers with plastic soles, I intend to make them compostable, wool slippers each year for Christmas.

Now if only I could find a place to recycle the incandescent bulbs that were here when we bought the house and are suddenly burning out all together.  It seems that locally I can only recycle the CFLs.  We are changing over to CFLs as the old ones burn out, and these can be recycled at Lowe's, Target, Home Depot, or Whole Foods, etc.

If you are trying to locate a place to recycle locally Earth911 is a great place to start.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Purging Kitchen Utensil Drawer

Utensils before
So I was browsing my posts this morning, and had a thought about my Making Space! post.  I realized that the project was started due to the utensil drawer being jam packed, yet I only removed the one slider press from the drawer.  I have admit, that did the trick.  I have been able to use the drawer without an real issues, it now shuts.

It occurs to me in reflection, a definite bonus of keeping this blog, that the drawer could stand a good going-through.  As I sit thinking of it though, I am telling myself that everything else belongs there.  And that I do use it all...sort of.  Even the cork screw, there is a story there.

We have disposed of at least 3 cork screws in our married life.  We would be doing a clean-out and be on a roll, then we come across the corkscrew and say "oh, that can be donated!"  Then a month down the road, someone would bring a bottle of wine to dinner, or we would come up with some other utilitarian use for a corkscrew.  Now, life has always provided a means, and we have been able to procure a new corkscrew. There was no need to feel regret over the decision to let go of it.  Yet, I feel like buying the new corkscrew is wasteful, and inconvenient.

It is this sort of situation that leaves one feeling like we should just hold onto anything that is useful, as we may need it one day.  Balancing seems to be the answer.  We need to balance the amount of things that we keep with the amount of space we have.  Karen Kingston states in one of her books that we need to believe that life will provide what we need...yet there are many starving people in our maybe these are just really words said, not believed--for valid reason!  Of course this is all the more reason to know that we do not need all the 'stuff', and to consider our real needs.

In balancing it is necessary to consider the priority of the space we have and the items we choose to keep.  If you won so many things that you cannot find them when you need them...Then you are wasting the space, and your time looking,  perhaps keeping them from going to a home where they will be used rather than that other person creating demand for another item from 'overseas', and in the end how many times have you replaced the item, just to then add it to the storage where the duplicate is already lost?

Coming back to the question at hand, the corkscrew.

  1. PRIORITY OF SPACE  the corkscrew is in the utensil drawer, prime real estate, for items that should be used everday--or at least weakly, at worst once a month.  The corkscrew fits none of those.  I think we have used it 2 times in the 6 years we have lived here.  And there are other things that we do use that belong here.  Having more space in the drawer would make access to used items much easier.
  2. PRIORITY OF ITEM:  it is used, but very infrequently.  If I were moving overseas I would not bring it, or even think of it.
  3. IS THERE AN ALTERNATIVE?:  While i have needed it, is there something else I could use, or even a duplicate?  Actually, while writing I have come up with the perfect solution.  We have a jackknife somewhere that has a corkscrew.  The plan is to write the task of finding the knife down, and not worry about it.  When I come across the knife, we will find it an appropriate home and donate our LAST corkscrew!  
 And now that I have worked this through I believe that I will be able to apply it to other items that cross my path, at least I hope so :)  And maybe that jackknife (when i find it) will stand in for at least a few other things too!

I have now made a difference in the drawer although the picture does it no justice.  Look how you can actually see the bottom of the drawer!  Some utensils I had duplicates for.   Isn't the mouse grater fun,  I kept hem, but the smaller hand held grater and the turn-handle grater both left.  I kept the large hole grater, as we use it most often.  I love the idea of the hand-crank beaters, but they are so hard to use the kids really cannot do it, and neither can I.  Since i have the electric mixer, there is no need to keep an unused utensil for idealism!  This reminds me, i have an electric hand-mixer under the counter that i never use...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blogging Progress

So this blog is still not showing up on the google search :(  But it is still keeping me motivated, and slightly accountable.  I am having fun logging my progress.  Also, my husband (aka my only reader at this point) is actually reading the posts and staying interested!  This is seriously impressive.  After I had finished the first 8 posts he asked what i was reading, and I simply handed over the PC.  He read them all, commenting, 'good point" and "well-written"  and such here and there.  Of course, I thought he might just be doing it for my sake.  Obviously he knew it was my writing, right?!  Nope.
He got to the post about the quilt book project and was amazed someone else had done it.  Then he saw the picture of the quilt and told me after he thought I must have submitted the photo.  At this point I explained that it was my blog he was reading.

So he has been surprisingly supportive.  I thought he might think that I was wasting time that I should be using to get the house under control.  However, that does not mean he remembered to put bacon grease in the jar at first.  Nope, he wasted napkins...oh, well.  When we run out, I will not replace them.  Then as he is searching for napkins, I can hope that he will remember the jar and determine that to be the easier route.

Now, anyone for the scent of eucalyptus?  I was given the most beautiful jar of hand cream a while back.  I want the jar, but every time I or someone else uses it I get the worst headache.  I hate to waste it, and yet I really want to reuse the jar for a cream that I can use.  If I don't come up with a solution in a week, I am donating it jar and all.

Update: my husband has shared the blog with a coworker!

Weight Out

I thought that i had pulblished this a few days ago,  it went to draft, so this was done a few days ago :)
I sold a table!  My husband thinks I should keep track of all of the pounds of things leaving.  That was after he carried this mammoth table up from the kids play area so that i could sell it.  He made a good point, but I wouldn't even know how to weigh something that large!!

This table just attracted clutter.  The idea was for the kids to use it for their lego projects, thus keeping the Legos off of the floor.  Well they still preferred to play on the floor and the table just filled with clutter.  So out it goes, and we are happier with the space.

We also passed on stewardship of some Legos and a vintage Capsela-which was built once and then left in the closet.

Fast-forward to several days later.  We have an unexpected home day.  I am thrilled to have everyone together to make some changes.  Unfortunately we squander time doing many routine chores that very much need doing.  Suddenly, I remember a 'doable' project that I need them for, we will clean off the kids bookcases in their room.

First know that we do not play in the bedrooms, the primary function of this room is sleeping and secondary is dressing.  However we do have 2 bookcases in there, as reading is done before bed or at rest times.  The top of the bookcases are used to showcase 'special' items that cannot be left in the public areas of our home.  Of course I forgot the before photo, my apologies.  However, we have the photo of the bin of stuff and an after photo of the shelves!  The bin weighed 31 pounds!!!!!  That was 31 pounds of stuff that everyone was happy to have out :) 

Funny thing is, that while we thought we would remove a few things, we had no idea there was THAT much!  It didn't look too bad.  None of it has been missed.  The kids played for hours in there after, and I noticed a VERY different feel to the space, much more inviting.