Monday, August 11, 2014

Buy The Size That Fits

Photo courtesy Flickr

It’s been a while since I read the kind of magazine that advises about housekeeping. The rhetoric of the Earth Shoe generation consistently recommended buying Large Economy everything. I used earnestly to exhort old ladies to shop at The Great Big Discount Warehouse and then listen incomprehendingly to their preference for picking things up in the neighborhood.

Business writer Timothy Ferris discusses earning dollars and spending a cheaper currency. The big picture wisdom of the practice is not something I can evaluate, but the idea makes sense of the avalanche of cheap imported housekeeping amenities. Dollars or whatever, it makes sense for me to buy small containers of many staples that I routinely used to repackage at home. 

Toothpaste is a simple (though not repackaged) example. I had a small crisis of conscience the first time I realized that a traveler’s tube is easier and faster to store and handle. The cost per unit is higher, and, alas, the packaging does not recycle. I save so much time and attention using the small size that I can be greener than green in other areas. The same is true for the white vinegar I use in the kitchen. The pint container recycles, and I don’t have to waste time and stress fine motor skills transferring stock from a gallon jug or mixing dangerously concentrated glacial acetic acid.

Much of the burden of green living has shifted onto the shoulders of the housekeeper just as the demands on time have grown greater. Employment outside the home, after school child enrichment activities, and ballooning commutes leave little to spare for such luxuries as uninterrupted periods of thought. I work at home in an empty nest and still resent the time it takes to wash solid waste (come on) and pick produce stickers off fruit. Couldn’t those things be designed to compost and look cool enough to collect, like the old crate labels?


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