Small Fixes for Big Problems

Do you ever find yourself watching the news, listening to someone yammer on about some seemingly unsolvable problem and find yourself thinking, “Why don’t they just do XYZ?” I do. Like, a lot. This is especially true when it comes to some environmental issues. Short of going back to school for environmental engineering and working my way up to a big federal level job, I figure the only way to get my ideas out there is to simply blog about it. So here it goes.



In case you haven’t heard, much of America is in the middle of a drought. I understand that the actual conditions that cause the drought are varied. We have too many people living in places that never really had enough water to support them, and climate change is exacerbating that problem. It seems to me that there are a few fixes that could be put in place to help mitigate the effects of drought if not solve it altogether. Continue reading

An Economy Built on Crap

Honestly, does this add $300 worth of value to your life? I’m gonna say it does exactly the opposite!

A few years ago, when I was living in a tiny apartment, I declared a stuff boycott. Since moving into my house I’ve relaxed the rules a bit, though I still don’t like buying things that seem unnecessary. But every Christmas season I start scouring  websites for gift ideas to buy those tricky relatives who don’t want or need anything useful that you could possibly buy them. Sure, they might actually need a new dishwasher but it’s not like you’re really going to buy that for your aunt or uncle…

With my friends I can get away with making donations in their names ( is my favorite), but my family is a little Christmas Crazy. For years I’ve been trying to get them to agree to Secret Santa or a grab bag, but so far I haven’t been successful. So…I continue to troll the internet looking for not completely horrible gift ideas for people who don’t need anything. I often make them something and then just go get gift certificates for manicures or what have  you.

But as I sort through the incredible amount of crap that’s out there to buy — and I wonder why anyone would buy it — I realize that our entire economy is basically built on people’s willingness to buy stuff they don’t need. Just the other day I was window shopping for a new laptop. Mine is probably at least 4 years old, some of the keys are starting to stick, and I’ve heard some not great noises coming from it but to say I “need” one would be a stretch. Part of me knows I should make the switch before this one actually dies, but a much bigger part of me says, “You don’t need it now!” But as I’ve chatted with friends about this new shopping conundrum of mine it’s clear that they think I should just go ahead and do it already, whether I  really need it or not. (There have been some good deals on refurbished MacBooks, so it’s been a real struggle to keep myself from the impulse-buy.) And if it weren’t for people like those friends of mine, buying gadgets they don’t really need, where the heck would our economy be? And more importantly, can we really sustain growth on that kind of mentality?

I think the answer is, obviously, NOOOOOOOO!  Continue reading

Paper Products, Germaphobia, and You

These are an abomination.

Last night I was watching television and I saw a commercial that made me downright angry. It was for the Reynolds wrap non-stick pan lining paper, which is right up there with disposable hand towels for your home bathroom on the scale of horrifyingly wasteful products.

If you stepped into my kitchen right now you’d find some tinfoil that I’ve kept to reuse, and perhaps a paper towel that I’m keeping to get one more use out of. I use these things sparingly — and in the case of tinfoil, I try to recycle it. I once had to lecture a roommate about the different uses for paper towels and regular towels. Paper towels are for cleaning up messes, I told him, and regular towels are for drying your hands and dishes. He honestly seemed as if this had never occurred to him before.

Don’t even get me started on paper plates. Continue reading