Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things We Can Do Without

The list of things we could do without is probably endless, but I started thinking about this when my writing buddies (and blog fans) Cheryl and Marelu gave me a Staple Free Stapler as a birthday gift the other day. I think they were really just hoping to give me an idea to get me writing again... Blogging in the summer with children turns out to be much harder than I had anticipated! First, it was just the typical chaos of summer and kids, then it was a trip to Alaska (which I definitely will blog about soon), now it's a broken elbow (my son, not me).

OK, enough excuses... Back to the stapler - it's a neat little device that basically cuts a small hole in the paper (up to 4 sheets) and then tucks it in the back to keep all the sheets together. Remember when you were in school and used to fold, rip, and fold the top corner when there wasn't a stapler around? It's kind of like that.

No, I don't think that staple free staplers are going to change the world, or that everyone should rush out and buy one, but it does make you think about all the "things" we have and don't need. I remember reading an article once about a family of three who was moving permanently onto a houseboat and had to sell 95% of their possessions. It was the kitchen appliances that really got me. They decided they only needed one knife. As I look at my knife block, I'm clearly several knives past "need" - steak knives, meat cleaver, paring knife, bread knife, and a few others that I can't even name.

In Seattle this week, the debate focused yet again on the paper/plastic bags. Residents voted on whether they should pay 20 cents for each bag (paper or plastic), in an effort to encourage people to bring their own reusable bags. The measure failed, but unfortunately I think that is more a statement on how influential out-of-state groups can be in a local election. The plastics industry is reported to have spent $1.3 million in the past few weeks trying to ensure that the measure didn't get passed for fear that it would become a model for other cities. I don't necessarily think we need government measures to tell us to bring our own bags, but I do think it would have had a drastic impact on the consumption of the bags. I'm curious to know if the whole Bring Your Own Bag campaign has already started to have an impact. Clearly the plastics industry is getting worried about something.

What things do you have that you don't need? Would getting rid of it have an impact - or maybe just reduce the clutter in your life? For me, I'll keep trying to remember to always bring my own bag--and I'll use my stapler. In the next few weeks, I will also get piles of outgrown toys and clothes out of the house to pass on to friends or our local clothing exchange. In terms of having an impact, I'll keep thinking before I buy that next unnecessary object. That's probably a good thought to keep in mind as we head out for back-to-school shopping.

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