Among many things around my house that have been broken, I was asked, “Why don’t you just get a new one. It would only cost $X!” To begin with, I want to be clear, in this case, $X does not mean just any amount. In this case, $X means, to the speaker, a value that is minuscule. So, why is it that I cannot just replace things that are broken or in the essential part, not working the way they were manufactured originally to do so.
Before getting into the topic, I would like to express a few times when I was driving with my daughter and we picked up a hitch-hiker. Once, we were walking into Hot Harry’s to have some Mexican food. As I pulled into a tight spot with one try at the parallel parking. A man who was on the sidewalk took note. When we got out, he said, “Nice job, you’re a good driver.” Then we went into the restaurant, ordered our food, and began eating. I overheard a voice ask, “Could you call the cab again, I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes, but it hasn’t come yet.” “I’m sorry sir, we are busy right now, but I’m happy to call when I have a chance.” “Okay, thank you,” and the man went and stood in the corner so he wasn’t in the way to wait patiently.” Another time, my daughter and I were driving down the road on a cold day and there was a hitch-hiker. I began to slow down. My daughter let out an exasperated sigh, “Daddy, why do you have to give people rides all the time?” “Because they are in need and it is not out of my ability to share the help I can.” Upon the 10 minute drive, even before he admitted it, we figured he was an alcoholic. He informed us that at 40 years old he was living with his mother and that he had some sort of argument with her because she was unwilling to bring alcohol bottles upstairs for him. I used this as a teachable moment to my daughter, after I left him off at his destination, to explain the basics of beginning drinking; but that’s not the point of this post.
I hold value in the time it would take me to drive to a store, wander up and down the aisles to find either the exact item to replace or even a different concoction that may be nicer/better than what I had at the start. I’m not fond of shopping. It is usually busy where I go shopping. My theory is that everyone uses me like a divining rod to find places to shop. I can prove this by seeing the same people in the same three stores on the same day as I am shopping. I’m sure I just didn’t see the other people in more than one store either because I am too focused on my task at hand, or they are just unremarkable; probably a mixture of both. Now I am sure that I am not perfect and I apologize that I am being so judgmental, but I have to admit that most people when they get into a group, are absolutely self-indulgent, inconsiderate, and obnoxious (there’s a sliding scale of those three items that most people reside within). With my focus on picking out the one and only one item that I need not mixing well with the general public, I begin to understand why people drink. For me, I begin to see red. Is the value of spending $X worth this aggravation?
Secondly, one of the many things that I learned from growing up is problem-solving. A saying that I try to live by is, “there are no problems, only solutions.” Growing up, I saw many examples of enduring, surviving, and achieving in the face of obstacles. With that, if a manufactured item in my house, in my car, in my possession is broken or not running properly my instinct is to make it work. If there are tools in my house and I possess the abilities to make the item work properly I am pleased to take the time to figure out how to make it work. This may require me to adjust the way that I work with the functionalities of the item, and I may have to adapt myself to the adjustments I’ve made to the item, but the item still serves the purpose it was originally intended.
Thirdly, the saying, “Waste not, want not,” comes to mind. For instance, “Why don’t you just buy “Brand ABC chicken soup? It only costs $X.” Well, because for a little more effort, and A lot less money, I can make my own chicken soup, as well as have a few meals, and lunches. Follow along:
- Whole chicken (organically feed, no GMO’s or growth hormones) $10
- 1 pound of chicken $3
- 1 pound of celery $3
- 2 large onions $5
- Spices $1
- Total about $22
Season and cook the whole chicken. Then, cut off the breast meat for a fresh meal. Cut up the carrots, celery, and onions. Trim meat off the bones to chop up for chicken salad sandwiches (mix in celery/onions/mayo/spices as desired). Put the bones of the whole chicken and any additional chicken remaining, into a large saucepan, to boil for about an hour with carrots, celery, onions and spices (the chicken bones will provide immune support and great protein in the form of “bone broth”). Once the hour is up, let it cool down for about 5 minutes, extricate the chicken bones from the soup, and take off any remaining meat from the bones. This will provide you with more than a gallon of amazing chicken soup. EVERYTHING that has any value, has been drained of its value and is now in your chicken soup. Why in the world should this not apply to other things than chicken soup? Why should I not drain the value of other commercially bought items?
Lastly, what impact is there upon the environment of the disposal of so many items. I get that there are plenty of jobs that rely on this re-purchasing of these items, although many of these jobs are in faraway countries; supporting the economy is less important to me than doing what I can to not damage the environment. Will I learn my lesson from buying something that was poorly made? Yes, I will, but not until I have used it for as long and as much as I possibly can. I will use that knowledge gained to purchase a better quality item and then chart that items use for all that it is worth.
Disposing of things, just because things are not convenient or more difficult to work with does not stand to the legend from what America originally formed. Quitting and giving up on something because there is an easier but wasteful way is not productive long term and is selfish. To throw out “stuff” (food, items, people) because it’s easier to be wasteful than to be resourceful in how you relate to what you are privileged to have in your life is flat out selfish and lazy.
Revisiting the guy who was looking to get a taxi in Hot Harry’s. When we finished eating I said to the man, “Excuses me, where are you looking to take a taxi?” “Lenox.” “Great, that’s where we are going too! We can give you a ride?” “No, no I couldn’t let you do that.” “Nonsense, it’s on the way.” “Okay, but let me give you money, I won’t accept a ride if you don’t let me give you money.” “Okay, fine.” When I approached my car, he said, “Oh good, you’re a good driver, I remember you pulling in.” On our way to drop him off, we picked up an air mattress he found discarded. He informed us that he lived alone, and tinkered with things he found, repaired them, and then gave them to the church he attended for them to sell in their thrift store. He helped some neighbors with yard work and took care of their pets when they were away. After he got out at his house my daughter said, “I’m glad that you gave him a ride, I felt so bad for him, he was just such a sweet old man.” “Well, we didn’t know that before we picked him up, it was the right thing to do, but you need to be careful, just because someone looks trustworthy and nice doesn’t mean they are.”
All-in-all, no one is disposable, they all have value, and if you have value to give to someone, it is your duty to share your value.