Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Heal the World

We hear a lot about "going green" these days. I believe I've been doing my part for the last 6 years at least, just by virtue of my spartan lifestyle. I walk everywhere and never drive -- not just because I don't have a driver's license, but also because I don't want to carry a spare tire around...

I also try to stick to a vegan diet and never eat meat, meaning I don't contribute to the agricultural nightmare of factory farming at all. This choice has everything to do with my personal morals and nothing to do with the environment, but, hey, I kill two birds with one stone. Figuratively speaking.

Additionally, I live in this soviet-era throwback of a studio apartment, in which the electricity goes out every time I run the microwave and blow-dry my hair at the same time. Every time. Still, students who nagged me endlessly at my small, academically prestigious but socially limiting liberal arts college might have you believe that I'm not quite doing my share. Either that, or my sophisticated fashion sense and desire to secure a permanent job in the near future -- which prevent me from sporting giant buttons and badges proclaiming my lifestyle and political/moral views -- mark me as an unsavory yuppie in need of environmental sustainability training.

Well, as it turns out, I'm not so green when it comes to saving our Mother Earth. I have tons of ideas for arts and crafts that anyone can make simply by digging around in their garbage or under the bed. I've saved the best for last, and you can see them all under the cut.

1. Reuse Old Containers As Places To Put Stuff.

A penny saved is a lesson learned -- about environmental sustainability. As you can see, I have reused this empty applesauce jar as a holder for spare change. There isn't a lot of change in there, since I often need to use it. Also, I could have put this glass jar in the recycling bin and said "peace," feeling no guilt or sense of wastefulness. However, I used it as a place to store change instead. I used to drop change randomly on tables or wherever convenient, but I've since learned that some people have a little issue with this. So in case I ever have company, this change jar I invented will hopefully make my home marginally less gloomy.

Yes, any object with an open top, sides, and a bottom can be recycled into a place to put stuff. Try using an Altoids tin as a place to hold paperclips or less expensive mints. Use a nail and hammer to bang holes in the bottom of a can, fill it with soil, and plant a seed in it to make a little flower pot. Use an old bag-balm tin as a receptacle for loose-leaf almond black tea (above). How about serving up some ice-cold soy milk in an empty jam jar (below)? The possibilities are endless when you recycle containers as places to store things.

2. Reuse Bags as Bags, Places to Put Bags, etc.

Some days--like yesterday, when I went to the co-op to buy some inexpensive, cheaper-than-Price Slashers apples and tomatoes--I carry around a cute tote bag which can be reused for future grocery trips. But what about those days when, on the way home from work, I feel like picking up a few things from the Central Vitamin Station? I don't have a car, so unlike many others, I don't have 6 totes permanently stored there for any occasion. Also, though I am a juggler, multiple items can prove unwieldy for me to hold exposed in my bare hands/arms, or-- in the case of, for example, toilet paper--embarrassing.

So: should I carry around 6 empty tote bags wherever I go "just-in-case," and, in my busy, city CVS store, make a conspicuous dork of myself by telling the cashier, "Excuse me, I don't need a bag -- I brought my own."? I shouldn't and I don't. I accept the plastic bags that are given to me, and use them as -- trash bags!

It's true! Some things--used Kleenex, the paper towels I needed to use to absorb the orange-tinted water from my molding carpet after the washing machine next door overflowed and flooded into my apartment--need to be thrown in the trash. Guess who never wastes money on trash bags?

As for paper bags, take your pick of two uses:

Plastic bag cache, or...

Book cover. You're welcome for the elementary school memory. At university, the government doesn't issue your texts anymore (not in this country, at least), so what's the motivation for continuing to cover books like this? Well, in my case, the IST 605 text has a tacky, red-and-green design, and I don't feel so cool carrying it around. With the new book cover, I can be the toast of the town! And when my homemade, environmentally sustainable cover inevitably wears out, perhaps the original cover will be seasonally appropriate. It's a good thing.

3. What Can You Do With Old Shoes?

I have about ten million pairs of busted Converse Chuck Taylors in the above condition. They look so cool and simple and match everything, and because of this I never learn these shoes are the most raggedy, non-weather-resistant things you can buy. So, over the past ten years, I've simply purchased a new pair in the same style of said shoe every time the sides and/or soles inevitably gave out. So what could one possibly do with this broken-down footwear? Even the Salvation Army would throw this junk in the dumpster. I will wear a pair of shoes until they are completely dead, even on occasion using duct tape to patch up holes and broken seams. If there is a homeless man out there whose feet are as petite and dainty as my own, I doubt that even he would accept the used shoes I have to offer. Instead, I have a better plan.

Have a crime to commit? You'll be the bomb, or, rather, the Unibomber, if you perpetrate a crime wearing these "trick" shoes! Simply put on a pair of shoes that are in acceptable condition for walking, then tie your old shoes in the opposite direction on the bottom! This way, anyone following your tracks will think you're walking in the opposite direction. However, if I wore this device while committing a questionable act (which isn't my style; I'm completely clean cut), my trailers would still know my shoe size and the fact that I wear Chuck Taylors. Eek! And yet, if I would give this device to my favorite sociopath, who would then proceed to commit an unsavory action, detectives would identify the suspect as someone who wears size 5 (Womens) Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

Hmm, I guess you could just be a bum for Halloween. And if Halloween is still too objectionable, try being Charlie Chaplin in a school play or something.

See you later, perpetrator.


  1. It's not Peppy, just some illustrations of schnauzers. I tried to put Peppy in the totebag before, but it was a little awkward carrying him around. I didn't want to scare him.