Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Baby Come Back

You can’t watch a talk show or a news report lately without hearing about thrift and frugality. Thank goodness we, as a country, are taking a good, hard look into what contributed to this terrible problem we now face with the economy…waste, excess and greed.

Some people might observe that I picked the worst time in the world to leave a relatively good-paying job in 2008. I disagree completely. It was a job that sapped my joy, energy, self-worth and health, which is a sad commentary about a job in a church. Quitting helped me to look at many things from a new perspective, including how I view money and my lifestyle. We are happier, more peaceful and with the exception of a few ups and downs, having a better quality of life than we ever had before.

With that all in mind, I’ve been looking at TV, advertisements, what I see in grocery stores, and other ways we live with a more critical eye. You hear folks complaining about the cost of groceries, but my spying on grocery carts shows me that people are still buying totally unnecessary items. Our advertising media has created habits among us that need to be re-examined.

What follows are my top choices for ridiculous consumer expenditures:

Microwavable Raw Potatoes in the Produce Section:

Have you seen these potatoes in your local Wal-mart yet? These are plain, ole raw baking potatoes washed, and wrapped in plastic wrap. They cost four times as much as a regular potato. I mean how complicated is it to wash a potato, prick a fork into it and wrap it with Saran wrap? However, if they’re selling them, that means someone is actually buying them.


Ah yes, more plastic to go into our landfills. Plastic never biodegrades. More sodium, artificial sugar, fat and additives to go into little people. How about making a nice sandwich on homemade whole-grain bread, slicing up an orange, and adding a drink from home, in a reusable container which you froze the night before? Put it all in a lunch pail and the drink will defrost by noon and keep the other food cool at the same time.


Those nauseating “Baby Come Back” commercials ought to be enough to make you stop buying them, but all that Swiffer stuff is really expensive. Not to mention bad for the environment. So baby, come back to a bucket, a mop, and some vinegar and water.

Pledge/Lysol Wipes:

Use vinegar and water on a rag. Just think of all those used wipes which are Not going into landfills for our grandchildren to deal with.

Microwave Popcorn:

Last night we checked and figured out that it takes an almost equal amount of time to microwave popcorn or cook it the traditional way. It tastes better cooked on the stove and costs four times less.

Salad Shooters:

I include in this category any other single-use appliance like a special hot dog cooking appliances, etc. These items are very expensive new and take up a lot of storage space. Use a knife to cut your vegetables and a pan or your grill to cook hotdogs.

Poop Scooper Bags:

Go into a PetSmart and you’ll actually see these items for sale. We save grocery, produce, and baked good bags to clean up while our dogs are walking. They’re free and at least we use them twice before discarding them. Again, the sad thing is that someone is actually buying these.

Individually-Wrapped Servings of Anything:

Chips, cookies, pretzels, etc…whatever you purchase like this costs twice as much as the same item in a big bag. Use some ziplock sandwich bags or little plastic, lidded containers and divide them up yourself OR switch to fruit or a home-made more healthy snack.

Most Cleaning Products:

Bubbles to scrub the bathroom, something else to scrub the floor, stove-top cleaners, toilet cleaners, grill cleaners, shower stall cleaners, dishwasher gel packs and, my personal favorite, vegetable cleaners.

You can clean nearly everything in your house with white vinegar and water. Dusting can be done with a slightly damp cloth with only water in it. Bathtubs can be cleaned with a rag wrung out with vinegar and baking soda for a slight abrasive.

Vegetables can be cleaned with water and a brush or soaked in a mild vinegar and water solution if you're concerned about pesticides.

The only other products I’d include are the occasional use of bleach for toilets, lemon oil for furniture from time to time and a Windex-type solution of ammonia and water. Debra from As I See It Now uses windshield wiper fluid, which is much cheaper than Windex.
All of the items I mention are expensive and unnecessary. All have negative impact to our environment and health. Most of them are no more convenient than the traditional ways our grandmothers used.
We can continue to complain about the economy OR we can take positive steps to change those things that we can.

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