An Hour of UnShopping

I just got back from what I like to call “unshopping” — a painful and ludicrous part of consumer culture.

This is when we de-stuff-ify ourselves. In this particular hour, I made four stops:

  1. To the church recycling dumpster, which takes cardboard and #5s, so I don’t have to throw them away.
  2. To return cans and plastic bottles, which has the cursed (ker-SEHD) bottle deposit on them. This 5 cent bottle and can deposit went out of fashion like everything else in Connecticut in 1874. However, if I want to get the money back I paid on the containers, I must stand at the automated machine that sucks them in and regularly spits them BACK out to get my loose change back.
  3. To the Burlington Coat Factory parking lot, where the Goodwill pickup truck is always parked. To drop off the outgoing clothes, toys, shoes, etc.
  4. To the liquor store, to return the beer bottles, because they don’t take them at the automated machines where they take the cans and bottles.

Net result of UnShopping: $6.80 and a temporarily slightly more tidy garage. (It was a big week, as we have recently had a party.)

I know some of you will tell me that I can take the cans and bottles ALL back to the big drop off center. I have done this before. However, this place is a horrific spot, filled lod clanging noises, and with people who collect cans for a living. There is ALWAYS a queue, and inevitably I wait there, squeezed in tighter and tighter between hundreds of bulging garbage bags filled with Diet Coke cans.

As I kick my blue bin of cans forward, other collectors eyeball my bags and sneer.

whywhyhwhywhywhywhywhywhy

I don’t much care for UnShopping, but I do it, because it is apart of putting things away properly, the things that I am responsible for. Also, I want my two dollars!

But ask Colin sometime what he thinks of it and he’ll say something like:

I AM NOT STANDING THERE FEEDING THOSE STUPID CANS INTO THAT MACHINE. I HAVE LOOKED INTO THE THIRD LEVEL OF HELL AND IT IS A STICKY MACHINE THAT LAUGHS AT YOU, COUGHS, THEN SAYS (as Eric Idle), “PARDON ME, BUT I CAHN’T QUITE READ YOUR BARCODE, MY DEAR FANTA CAN! GOODBYE!”

Colin says “Leave em out on the curb… someone will take them!” But I’ve seen the trash guys throw REAMS of cardboard into the garbage compactor and I quake with fear.

It takes a lot of effort to undo our consumer habits. Driving around, following our state’s rules of returns (in order to get the full 5 cents back on beer bottles, they must be returned IN the cases. In order to get money from the automated machine, the machine must be able to scan your retinas and be given a cheeseburger.)

Being a conscious consumer is the perfect recipe for madness brought on by inanity.

I want out!!

  5 comments for “An Hour of UnShopping

  1. Karin
    July 29, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Just a technical question. I believe a ‘ream’ is a sheaf of paper. Can ‘ream’ be applied appropriately to cardboard? I digress.

  2. July 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    ream 1 (rm)
    n.
    1. A quantity of paper, formerly 480 sheets, now 500 sheets or, in a printer’s ream, 516 sheets.
    2. A very large amount. Often used in the plural: reams of work to do.
    [Middle English reme, from Old French reime, from Old Spanish resma, from Arabic rizma, bundle, from razama, to bundle; see rzm in Semitic roots.] (From the Free Online Dictionary)

  3. July 30, 2010 at 9:03 am

    One thing I miss about California (or at least Arcadia where we lived) was that curbside recycling rocked. They accepted all recycled materials in one bin… if you could find the recycling logo with ANY number in it, it could go in the bin. Mixed in the same bin… magazines, newspapers, cardboard… everything. Even when I would open a box of toothpaste or new makeup, I would peel the cardboard portion out and recycle it. Here in Iowa, 1s and 2s. Bah. And I even bagged a bunch of newspapers when we overflowed the recycling bin and yes, they threw them in with the garbage. Made me sad!

    Good for you on unshopping… it’s a dirty (literally) job but it’s necessary!

  4. August 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Like Nicole, I feel very lucky that our garbage company accepts “co-mingled” materials for recycling – cans, paper, phonebooks, cardboard, and plastics 1-6, all in the same curbside bin.

    But I live in mortal fear that they just toss it all in the same big landfill as our regular trash (though they are picked up by separate trucks & at separate times).

    My other problem is that I am judgmental of our friends who don’t pay the extra $2 a month or so that you have to pay to do recycling.

  5. Heather
    August 30, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    hilarious! awesome.

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