Disposable Culture

Through a coordinated effort, several families on my street all participated in a giant tag sale. As we walked from sale to sale, I couldn’t stop thinking how hard it is to get rid of stuff. At one table, I purchased a giant tub of arts & crafts supplies for $3. It contained three pairs of scissors that cut in different patterns, bags of sequins, stickers, and packages filled with random shapes in a variety of colors. I’m sure all of this cost more than $3. But for now, the cost to get rid of it for something more than “free” was a few bucks.

Though I didn’t need these new art supplies, I can definitely use them. In fact, I’m looking forward to busting out the glue and poster board to start crafting. However, I did have a moment where I considered how I would offload these supplies, if, like many other “inspired” projects, I never actually used them.

In today’s disposable culture, it’s easy to acquire too much, all in pursuit of things we “need.” Much of the time, the stuff is poorly made and breaks easily. When things break I’m often in a dilemma. It’s almost always less expensive to buy something new than to repair the broken thing. Yet, it feels wasteful for me to throw things out in the garbage rather than try to fix them.

For example, I purchased a vegan leather purse a few years ago. I took it out of the closet for the first time a couple months ago and it looked horrible. The “leather” started to deteriorate and flake off.

I’ve had several people tell me to just throw it out. It does look awful, but other than the appearance, it’s a perfectly functional bag. The size is great, it’s got a nice flat bottom, sturdy zippers, and a nice interior. I did actually research how to fix vegan leather before deciding it was a lost cause. Too much effort. So, the bag will end up in the trash bin, unfortunately.

Part of what feels strange to me is we keep accumulating stuff, which nobody ends up wanting, including ourselves. Then it becomes a mission to get rid of it, if you don’t want to just throw it all in the garbage. Yet, with digital formats, we’re also encouraged to accumulate stuff, but then we end up keeping all of it.

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