“C’mon Bonnie, let’s go out,” I say, as I clip on my earrings and get ready to leave the house. But Bonnie isn’t a person or a pet—she’s my late mother in law, who passed away over 25 years ago. Bonnie made those earrings by gluing clip-backs to two pewter-colored buttons. When I wear them, I feel that I am bringing the spirit of that practical, frugal and creative woman with me.
About ten years into my career as a college professor, I attended a remarkable session at an Association for Consumer Research conference. The presenters had embarked on a “Consumer Behavior Odyssey,” traveling the country and interviewing people about their possessions. We were treated to video excerpts of the interviews—from a Mickey Mouse memorabilia collector to a woman describing cherished furniture made from trees that had grown near the family home. Continue Reading →
By day, I build and run waste processing infrastructure in Perth, Australia. I’m the CEO of the Western Metropolitan Regional Council (WMRC). I spend a lot of my time doing engineering, politics, lobbying – all of the things you’d expect with anything that is concerned with Big Serious Stuff. And in doing this, it is easy to overlook that waste is a deeply personal affair.
Waste is, at its core, a set of personal habits that aggregate to create a social problem. What we discard is, as Gay Hawkins put it in The Ethics of Waste, how we constitute ourselves.
If you’re like most Americans, Super Bowl Sunday means lots of snacks, beers, laughs, (or depending on your team, tears). It may also be one of the easiest days of the year to slip back into bad habits of buying over-packaged and single-use items. This need not be the case! I can show you how to have a great Super Bowl party that’s even healthy, too, without the super waste and super mess.
As a native New Yorker, I wear my city’s quirks like a demented badge of honor. While others bemoan the size of an average New York City home (1,300 square feet, or half the national average), I revel in all 220 square feet of my studio, having hammered, stitched and glued my way into a space that, galley kitchen and all, and I can cozily entertain a half dozen guests.
I’m one waste-hater who can’t bear to throw away those annoying little packets of duck sauce, soy sauce, sugar, ketchup and the like that come with take-out food. But just tossing them into a bag in the pantry thinking I’ll use them one day never really does the trick.
This past weekend, I organized all the packets I’ve been collecting since time and memorial. So I’d reach for them first, I put the sugar packets next to the sugar bowl, and the salt and pepper packets together next to my S&P shakers. Then I put all the duck sauce and soy sauce packets together in a canister on my counter, since I typically combine them in recipes. Continue Reading →
The average person uses 2,400 – 3,000 paper towels at work, in a given year.
On my first visit to Japan in 1998, I was given a gift of a reusable water bottle, a cloth bag, and a set of hand towels. My host informed me that these were all necessities for my stay. I really didn’t understand the whole “towel” thing until my first visit to a public restroom. There were no paper towels or hand dryers anywhere to be found. Continue Reading →
We need to de-stigmatize doggie bags.
The term itself implies that it would be embarrassing to say, “I would like to eat the rest of this food later, rather than see it end up in a dumpster or compost heap.” Others may fear looking a tad desperate in front of folks they’re trying to impress.
Mock up by WeHatetoWaste.com based on original image by Emily Mock
Making your list? Checking it twice? But not feeling so enthused about the prospect of buying more stuff for friends and family that might just wind up as waste? Here’s a solution: this year, instead of gift, give a “re-gift”.
Admit it. We all have a “re-gift bag” in the back of the closet.
You know what I’m talking about. It’s that beat up shopping bag sitting in a corner or closet filled with a bunch of gifts you can’t use, don’t like, or are just downright weird. It might even contain some pretty decent things you bought with airline miles or on sale with the intention of giving them away when the right occasion presented itself. But alas, they’re still sitting there, waiting for that perfect match of owner and artifact. Continue Reading →
When I lived in my Cornell dorm, I used a drying rack for my jeans and delicate fabrics. Seemed like a no-brainer to me. I didn’t have to worry about my clothes shrinking or unraveling in the dryer. My clothes look new longer. I used less electricity, and saved around $70 each semester.
I quickly discovered I wasn’t alone. I noticed other like-minded women in my dorm had drying racks of their own. When the guys made fun of us – and said our crazy metal drying racks looked like they came from a Transformers film, we joined together informally and dubbed ourselves “The Sisterhood of the Air-dried Pants.” Looks like we were on to something…
Food waste has been a pet peeve of mine for many years, and it appears that I am not alone! According to a recent survey, Americans feel guiltier about wasting food than any other environment-related (mis)behavior (e.g., wasting water, leaving on the lights, forgetting to bring reusable bags to the store).