Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Anti-Shopping List

One of the reasons that we all create so much trash is that it's really, really easy to bring stuff into the house, but it's hard to get stuff out of the house, unless you use the trash can.

Stores are open pretty much all the time.  They have brightly lit shelves and big signs and wide aisles.  And there are so, so many of them.   On the other hand, places that take back the things you bought are few and far between, and many of them have limited hours.

Compare buying batteries with getting rid of batteries: we can buy batteries in drug stores, grocery stores, toy stores . . . but to get rid of them, at least near where I live, we have to get a special orange bag from the local Waste Authority -- only one place.

Or consider candles, the persistent presence at every "Bad Gift Exchange" I've ever had.  Clearly, it's easy to get these whether I want them or not -- but once I've lit that wick, what do I do with the candle if I no longer want it?  What do I do with the second half of a tube of glitter?  With the christmas lights that have burned out?  Even if someone else in the world could use that glitter, or someone else in the world could reclaim the copper from the burned-out lights, it's so danged hard to get my things into those other people's hands.  It's so much easier just to put it all in a can by the back door, and let that big old garbage truck just carry it all away for us.  Hence, giant landfills.

But as someone who hates giant landfills, I try to take a different route.  I have an "anti-shopping list".
I keep my out-going stuff in labeled boxes on a set of shelves in my garage.  I have mentioned elsewhere my love of printer boxes; here is one more way that they serve me and my family faithfully!  And the stuff here is bound for a variety of special places.

Speaking of "special places", I also keep a list in my planner of places to take this stuff, together with addresses, phone numbers, and hours they're open -- because anti-shopping hours are not anywhere near as accommodating as shopping hours are.
  • The Creative Reuse store (open Mondays 10-6, Thurs 10-2, Fri 10-2, Sat 10-5) -- for Arts and crafts.
  • The Library "ReSort" store (Mon. & Wed. 10am-2pm, first Sat. of each month 10am–1p.m) -- for books.
  • Habitat Restore (Tuesday-Friday from 9am-5pm, Saturday from 9am-4pm) -- for hardware and building supplies
  • Goodwill and Salvation Army-- for clothes and other household items
  • Med-drop box in our courthouse downtown -- for unused medications (They can also go to the sheriff's office, but only three or four days each year, and those days aren't widely publicized in advance.)
  • Household Hazardous Waste Facility (open Monday – Friday: 7am – 4pm and Saturdays 8 to noon) -- for light bulbs, batteries, etc  (but they don't take used paint -- that I give away via "Free piles" in my front yard.)
  • Scrap metal (hangars, electronics, rusty nails, and old washing machines) goes to a guy I know named Paul who recycles it for money. I call him and he comes to pick things up.
  • I'm still working on finding a place that takes rags.
The only way to do all my anti-shopping on one day, if I actually have something for every category, is to do it Saturday morning.

On Monday, I did a big anti-shopping day, donating about 7 boxes of arts/crafts/office supplies to our Creative Reuse store, and another 7 boxes of clothes and household items to Goodwill.  And then I found out the hard way that our local thrift stores won't accept our metal filing cabinets . . . sigh.   I'm still wavering on whether I ought to go with FreeCycle, Craigslist, or Yard Sale season.  And I'm still looking for a place that accepts rags (although I admit I'm not looking very hard).

At any rate, I'm happy I got to get a bunch of usable things off of my shelves and back into a place where maybe someone else can use them.


  1. Our local animal shelter is always looking for rags and seen-better-days bedding and even falling apart clothing to make animal cozy and clean up.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion! I called my local shelter the moment I read this, but they say they only want complete bedding, not clothes or torn cloth. Alas. I'll keep looking!

  2. H&M recycles clothes.