A Disposable Life

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Shawna, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. Shawna

    Shawna 1000 Music Tag Bonus Points Awarded!

    It was the winter of 2007 and a drive that neither of us would ever forget. On this drive, we solidified our relationship, we met the in-laws, we attended a funeral, and we connected. Our return home was uneventful, we stocked up on a few snacks, and made sure we had all of our belongings and set off towards Florida by way of Arkansas. It was late and we had a long drive ahead of us. After the funeral of my nephew, I was feeling a little reflective and Jeff accommodated me. Our relationship was young, an infant really, and out of the blue, at 9pm at night, I declared, “I don’t want to live a disposable life anymore”. And there it began …

    Disposable by definition is designed to be used once and then thrown away. It’s kind of a sad existence if you ask me. But these days, so much of what is ingrained in us is just that, designed to be used and thrown away. Tissues versus handkerchiefs, coffee filters versus a percolator, paper towels versus a hand-towel, designed for convenience and disposal. We no longer rely on a rooster to wake us up, we have an alarm clock, and if you are me, it’s your Smartphone. We stumble out of bed, make our way to the bathroom and several things happen. We can flush our toilets, we can turn a knob and we have hot water, I flick a switch and there is light. Convenience. We can’t/won’t live without them. Cotton swabs, tissues, etc., all a convenience and disposable.

    Flash forward four years and the “disposable” life is still a hot topic here in the Stryker house. In my opinion sometimes, in some things, we give in just a bit too fast. Take that pair of shoes that just doesn’t seem to fit quite right; where did all the cobblers go? Instead of finding out why the shoe doesn’t fit, we just go get a new pair. No worries, there are plenty to be had. And that pair of pants, who needs them? They might not fit quite right, but who needs to find a tailor? Let’s just head to the mall and get more.

    This was my mentality for years; it was the way I was raised. It was convenience, new technology, and new frames of reference. Just throw it in the trash, it will be picked up on Tuesday and taken away. I was at that point in my life, during this drive from Oklahoma to Florida, where I was sick of it. Throwing things away, that is. Where did the substance go? Where were the items we can’t live without? Jeff and I had a long talk on that drive home. Mostly the talk was subjective and we had a few good laughs at our memories of what was acceptable to “throw away”. But an unsaid commitment was made, that by choosing to join lives, we would try to have a life that wasn’t SO disposable. So, where did we start?

    Furniture – when did it become the norm to walk away from furniture? When it was sold at the 5 and Dime? We visited an estate sale not long after we returned to Florida. The sale was in Polk City, at a retirement trailer home that seemed to have 10 rooms from all the additions; we found a bed and a dresser and our legendary Trivial Pursuit game. It was a start and we have continued to add to it to this day.

    Plants – Jeff brought home several plants one day from work. A co-worker said they were outgrowing their pot and she didn’t want to do anything with them so she threw them in the garbage. Jeff brought them home and we replanted them. The ivy from the group is the most surprising. It not only survived but has found a foothold in the stucco and is growing up the wall, the rest are thriving on our lanai along with our third generation pineapple.

    In my case; socks. Of all things, socks. The seams hurt my feet, rub me the wrong way, or don’t fit my small feet correctly. I have been to enough antique shops to have bought a sock darner by now, but I haven’t. It’s easier to head to Wal-Mart or Target and get more socks. I’m working on this one.

    The one area Jeff and I can both say we have committed to no longer leading a “disposable” life is shaving. There is little waste and we are able to reuse items. Whether it is the razor, the blade, the brush, or the mug; they are all reusable.

    Of course, the blade will go by the wayside after a handful or two of uses, but that is not always the case. There are varieties of razor that have a perpetual self-stropping, self-sharpening blade such as a Rolls or a straight razor. I haven’t mastered either one of them, but there’s always my bucket list.

    I can’t say that we entered this lifestyle to save money, it was more of a philosophical discussion that struck a chord in each of us, but I do think we are both zeroing in on the items that we prefer, shave-wise anyway. I have lamented this of late, the Lord L6 is a razor I can see me using for many moons to come. I can't say that I wouldn't add to the brushes or creams/soaps that I have but for sure, there is only one mug I will ever use.

    Have I personally mastered the non-disposable life? Nope. Do I think I will ever have a completely non-disposable life? Nope. It is not reasonable in today's mainstream society to think that we will NEVER throw anything away. I can, however, take a stand in the Stryker Den and say, "no Disposable shall pass".
    tomnat, Sodapopjones, Mechguy and 8 others like this.
  2. sparky5693

    sparky5693 Administrator Staff Member

    Nice read Shawna, thanks!
    BabyGirl likes this.
  3. Johnny

    Johnny Little Boy Blue

    WOW! Excellent article. Lord, I do miss the good old days. The 50's.
  4. ChemErik

    ChemErik Mr. Personality

    I definitely relate. Some non-shaving examples that I've taken on:
    -Loose tea in a strainer instead of tea bags. The tea is even significantly better.
    -A manual coffee grinder instead of the motorized ones that fail after a year.
    -Buying antique furniture instead of lower quality new furniture (relative quality at the same price).
    -Buying Stainless and cast iron cookware instead of non-stick that wears out after a couple years.
    -Using reusable grocery bags. Yeah, it's trendy now but a good idea anyway.

    I also plan to add one by installing hardwood flooring to replace worn carpet. The hardwood can be refinished and last a lifetime where carpet would be lucky to last 10 years.

    I'd love to hear what other people are doing to get away from disposable life.
    BabyGirl likes this.
  5. fishcrow

    fishcrow Birdman of TSD

    Shawna, fantastic article.:happy036:
    We have become a throw away society. This is do in part to the poor quality of stuff being made. We have traded quality for quanity, cheapness.
    The one thing that is peeves me is over packaging of products in layers of plastic.
    supe and stingraysrock like this.
  6. Johnny

    Johnny Little Boy Blue

    -I do hand grind coffee beans on occasion, especially during the winter.
    -My furniture is antique.
    -Except for one pan, everything is cast iron in our kitchen, and most of it is antique.
    -The wife has been using reusable grocery bags for years. Our local grocery gives $.20 per bag off if you bring your own.
    -My winter boots are on their 5th soul. We do have a cobbler.
    -I bottle my own water in recycled milk jugs.
    -I've never (NEVER) used a disposable razor or a can of foam. :)
    -I use mulch as fertilizer.

    Sorry, I do by toilet paper and paper towels and dispose of both.
  7. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    For the life of me I don't know how this got past me.

    Great article, Shawna.
  8. Williams Warrior

    Williams Warrior Well-Known Member

    Nice article, and good food for thought! I've been thinking about a percolator or a french press but haven't done much research. Switched to straights so now the only thing to go in the garbage is soap stick rings and the packaging as well as empty bottles. And my favorite of all Birkenstocks!! I have loved those shoes for about 12 years now and still have my first pair of sandals. They're the only footwear that I know of that can be totally refurbished and all parts of the shoes or sandals can be recycled.
  9. Johnny

    Johnny Little Boy Blue

    I should introduce you to my wife. She has 68 pair of Birkenstocks.
  10. battle.munky

    battle.munky Has the menthol.munky on his back!

    and :signs011:

    We too use cast iron and have switched over to loose leaf teas as well. We buy from Goodwill often even though we can buy the new stuff if we want. All of our dishes are glass, no plastic even. We try to buy loose foods without extraneous packaging.
  11. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    Percolator even! I remember back in my truck driving days, I had a percolator in the truck, powered off a 3500 watt power invertor that also powered up my little microwave and dorm sized fridge. I chose the percolator because it did away with filters and was one less thing that I had to tote around. It was made entirely out of plastic, but it plugged in to the invertor and made really good coffee. Once the coffee was brewed, a quick shake of the grounds and a swirl of water from the 7 gallon jug of water, refilled at the filtered water dispensers at Walmart and I was good to go for the next pot.

    Now that I think about it, does Walmart or any other grocer still have those filtered water dispensers??? They were like 35 cents per gallon...
    BabyGirl likes this.
  12. supe

    supe Active Member

    Great article Shawna!
    One of my jobs at work (lumberyard) is to repair customers power tools, been doin it for 25 years. I can remember when Milwaukee used to include an extra set of brushes inside their power tools. They expected their tools to last a long long time and they did. Now a days power tools are seldom worth repairing unless they are contractor grade, very shoddy stuff out there. I too miss those days.
    BabyGirl likes this.
  13. Shawna

    Shawna 1000 Music Tag Bonus Points Awarded!

    My Daddy was born in 1923, I remember going with him to the lumberyard in Tulsa and buying odds and ends to repair/build our house. He had the same set of tools from the time I was born (1973) until the day he passed (2000).

    I used to marvel at how two generations collided in the house I grew up in. My Daddy was 20 years older than my Mom and the differences were amazing to me. Even though he made sure we had central heat and air (I grew up in Oklahoma), we couldn't turn the air on in the summer or the heat on in the winter. We used fans if it was hot or would turn the cooking stove on for warmth when it was cold.

    I sure do miss those mornings, taking a hot shower (cause we had a water heater) getting ready for school and running to the kitchen to sit in front of the stove to keep warm while I got ready for school because my bedroom and bathroom was too cold!

    These days I take a HOT shower cause it feels good and turn down the air and turn on the fan so I don't sweat while I'm getting ready for work!
    IAmTheJody likes this.
  14. Williams Warrior

    Williams Warrior Well-Known Member

    Growing up in Florida without AC ( I know, how did I survive), we used an attic fan and during the winter we had a kerosene heater that we would stand in front of in the mornings to try and warm up.
  15. battle.munky

    battle.munky Has the menthol.munky on his back!

    We had the same issue growing up in Florida WW. No central heat or air. Mom and Dad had a window shaker for a few rooms but the upstairs was uncooled/unheated so if my brother and I wanted any relief we slept in the living room. 90+ nights drove us downstair frequently. We had the oven or the little gas heater in the kitchen that we used to do the same thing as BG did getting ready for school. It had a "safety" bar on the front and we'd hang our socks off of it while we got dressed and then we'd put them on all toasty warm.

    Williams Warrior likes this.
  16. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Great article. Our house reveals our mix of cheapskateness (mostly mine) and desire to be genuinely frugal, plus a little pack-ratness mixed in. Besides my el cheapo vintage shaving...

    *'50s "atomic" percolator, redeemed from a box of percs at an auction for $1. A new perc is around $50 at WM.
    *Much of our wardrobe is from Goodwill and similar sources. You have to be picky but it pays (socks, drawers and T-shirts are always new bought)
    *I own more LPs than CDs. Have never had an MP3 player, though my 4 year old cellphone has a few stored on it.'
    *'99 Honda Civic. Ain't pretty but it runs.
    *vintage/restored tobacco pipes. Buying tobacco these days is the problem.
    *MUCH of our furniture is old. A bedroom suite from the '40s, various chairs and this summer I managed to get a solid maple dining room set for $50 from a neighbor. Pays to look around.
  17. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    And it's nice to find workmen who are also frugal and honest. A plumber was in last week to replace the feed line to the toilet that I couldn't get to, and the brass flapper valve. When he re-gutted the toilet tank, I said I assumed he'd suggest the whole unit be replaced outright. "No, don't do that," he said, showing me the date stamp inside the lid. It read 1956, meaning the commode is original to the house (built in '56). "This is a good old three gallon flush; don't see them much anymore, can't but them anymore and you could make a fair bit of money on it if you resell it." Good to know.
  18. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    Quite right! The Pre-Clinton era water conservation edict devices are worth serious coin to those who have them to sell and those who are looking to buy them. Yes, they are inefficient, yes, they cost more to operate, but danggit; one flush with the old stuff was enough! Anymore these days, with the "compliant" devices, you either have to flush twice, or thrice, or pull up rather than push down.

    Having said that, if I had the coin, I would totally install the commodes that BG has at her place of employment. Those devices are pressurized and blow the pipes clean rather than mere flushing.
    BabyGirl likes this.
  19. Shaver X

    Shaver X Well-Known Member

    That is a very well written article, Shawna.

    I have a strong dislike of el cheapo throwaway items, and detest the waste associated with needlessly disposable goods. It is the result of being raised by parents who grew up during the Great Depression. People could not afford throwaway items back then, and manufactured goods from the old days were built to last forever. It is a marked contrast to the present, when people spend a pile of money buying lots of poor quality junk. It is better to spend less in the long run and get fewer, high-quality, long lasting things.

    Quality products that will last a long time are still available. If you can't find them in a local store, then look online. For socks, www.wigwam.com would be a good place to start. Eventually the socks will get holes in them, as even high-quality things can wear out. Then just darn them and they can be used awhile longer.
    battle.munky likes this.
  20. Sodapopjones

    Sodapopjones Well-Known Member

    Very good read; as a culture it seems now nothing but ego and smart phones matter, everything else can be tossed.

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