Saturday, December 10, 2011

I have never liked cheap disposable stuff.  Fritz and I recycle everything we possibly can from both the house and the Center.  We're big paper recyclers because of the amount of junk mail we receive, increased enormously by the glut of holiday shopping catalogs.  One example is the West Elm catalogs that have come every year before Christmas, one a week, sometimes two a week, beginning in late October.  Every year it's the same catalog every week and the fact that I don't buy from them doesn't seem to register.  The amount of paper wasted in sending a dozen duplicate catalogs to a non-customer is staggering and I can only presume there are thousands and thousands of us out here in Consumerland who get this continuous stream of West Elm catalogs.   I also get Bits 'n Pieces, L.L. Bean, Duluth Trading, Hammacher Schlemmer, Brookstone, Tiffany, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chicago Institute of Art, Picture -- and a leather catalog that's sadly nowhere near as interesting as it sounds.

Fritz's Center is an informal, warm place sheathed inside with classic weathered New England weathered barn board.  It does not have a maintenance staff these days.  When a group comes in for a weekend, Monday morning finds the two of us down there first thing to do the clean up.  The first things I hit are the trash and the recycling.

It used to be all trash but when I moved up here full time and started helping him, I began to notice the amount of paper towel, cardboard and other paper products that were going into the dumpster.  So although it's not always the most pleasant job in the world, I go through all the bathroom trash (99.8% of which is just used paper towels) to eliminate non-recyclable material and, by the end of a weekend with 25 to 30 people in residence, I usually end up with two well-filled garbage bags of prime paper recycling.

At the house we process everything possible to avoid producing  garbage.  Despite very high property taxes in New Hampshire (everybody thinks it's dirt cheap to live here because there's no sales tax and no state income tax but you have to pay for services somehow) it turns out that garbage pick up is on a pay as you go basis.  We have to purchase town insignia garbage bags, packaged in three sizes, at the local super market.  There are something like a half dozen of the small bags, the size we use in our kitchen waste basket, sold for $7.50.  Pick-up is on Tuesday mornings.  We recycle all our paper, cans, bottles, metals and plastics, including used aluminum foil, cling wrap and approved styrofoam, and we compost all our vegetable kitchen waste.  We put out a bag no more often than once a month or sometimes five weeks.

I wish it were possible to take a broken appliance to a repair center and have the one part that's failed replaced without hearing that the repair would cost more than a new appliance.  I wish people would consider handkerchiefs that can be laundered and used for years rather than boxes and boxes of tissues that are gone in days.  I wish garbage-fired power plants could be developed with a clean enough effluent to not increase pollution and global warming, that could produce enough electricity to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.


And you've done a beautiful job at pointing out why I love you -- the ingenuity, the recycling, the thinking ahead about others, the minimalistic attitude. You boys are awesome!
I hate cheap plastic stuff as well.
If I can I try to eliminate as much plastic as I can, going for metal, china, wood, paper -but not plastic.
We are about even with the two of you. We compost everything safe for our compost pile. We recycle everything we can and don't use disposable plastic, unless imposed on us by some unholy force. We generate about one bag per five weeks, most of it bags or plastic that things were mummified in or encased in somehow.
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