Monday, December 29, 2008

Junk For Christmas Callenge 2008, Dec. 30th

I'm back from a wonderful time spent with my family. As usual there was plenty of delicious food to over fill on. We played games, visited, and had loads of fun.

Earlier this year my family decided we would exchange names and give only one gift rather than finding gifts for everyone in the family. This is a great way to reduce the amount of stuff given out at Christmas while keeping tradition alive. My family also has a Christmas stocking tradition in which we usually do not partake however this year since we're gifting junk we thought, "Why not?" I drew my brothers name and my spouse drew my mother's.

My mother received a beautifully framed photo mosaic of our family tree. We left the photos out so she could choose the pictures that mean the most to her.

The frame was found where one might expect to find discarded frames, behind a frame shop. It was within a box that had two frames, one frame was broken and the other was gifted to my mom. My partner cleaned it up and repaired a few minor scratches, reset the glass which had slipped back a bit and wrapped it to gift. In the same bin on a separate trip I located my mother's stocking stuffer.

This wall sconce was in terrific shape but it's mate was not so lucky. Stores figure you can't split up a pair so they toss both when one gets damaged. My mom has already picked out a wall for the frame.

My father was not one of the names drawn from the hat but we did manage a stocking gift for him.

My father smokes a pipe so some Christmas colored pipe cleaners seemed fitting. I also gifted to him a wooden puzzle I found on a trip to the dump. He spent hours trying to figure it out, he may not have it yet. Keep the faith dad.
My brother's gifts presented themselves in a strange way. My brother had me over to his house one evening to watch a pay per view fight with some of his close friends. I left early as I had made arrangements to meat up with the Trash Can Superman at the dump the next morning. That next morning while I was scavenging I discovered a brand new fire alarm bell still in it's box. I thought that it was a strange thing to find but couldn't think of any reason why I would need such a thing so I tossed it to the side. Later that same day I opened a bag which appeared to be full of scraped up underlay from someones renovations. The black foam was uninteresting but I could see a little red peaking out from under the debris. The first set of gloves were discovered. Alone these gloves would not make a good gift so I set them aside and continued rummaging when I discovered another bag filled with underlay foam and alas the second set of gloves.
When the gloves were reunited I remembered the bell and the gift completed itself. As TC Superman would say, "The dump provides!"

As a stocking stuffer I threw in a jock strap for ladies, after all I am his brother and I can't pass up a chance to make him blush.
I was going to stop here but I discovered this beauty amongst the scrap and couldn't leave it behind.

All it needed was a cleaning, some air in the tires, and a little tune up and this machine was ready for the trails.
My family has one last tradition which is only a few years old, it's called the Pickle Gift. For those of you who have never heard of this it goes like this. First obtain an ornament shaped like a pickle, apparently they are available. One person hides the pickle on the Christmas tree while the others are out of the room. The person hiding supplies a gift suitable for any of the searchers. Everyone except the pickle gifter searches the tree until the pickle is found. The person to find the pickle gets the gift and becomes next years pickle gifter.

This year I was the gifter after receiving a set of boccie balls last year. My father found the pickle after a thorough search.
What he received from me was a Philips photo frame. I had discovered one in the trash and took it home only to learn the obvious, it was broken. For kicks I phoned the warranty line and discovered the warranty was still good. It took some work on the phone but after five separate phone calls I was finally directed to a service shop to make my claim. The new frame arrived on the 23rd, just in time to become this years pickle gift.
We all had a great time this holiday and a lot was learned.
1. Christmas is not about the stuff. It's a great time of year as you get to congregate with the ones you love sharing good times, plenty of laughs, and lots of fun.
2. We are a shamefully wasteful society. You don't have to look far to see we are squandering our valuable resources in the pursuit of a "better life".
3. Think twice before making a return. All returned items in opened packaging or slightly imperfect end up discarded by that store. They can't sell it out of its wrapper and if you returned it due to the damage someone else will too. If you can fix it or live with the flaw do so to keep perfectly good materials out of the landfill.
4. Make a reduction plan with your family. Drawing names, group gifts, handmade gifts, cards, and of course abstinence are all good ways to reduce the giving of stuff, reduce the stress of the season, and reduce the mindless consumption.
5. Enjoy yourselves. This season only comes once a year. Enjoy the time you have together, don't make it about the gifts.
There are plenty of other lessons to glean which we may discuss in a later post. If you have any great ideas on reducing consumption please feel free to post in the comments section of this or any other post on the squanderism site.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas With The In-laws

Well we are back from the In-laws and a wonderful Christmas visit. We arrived Christmas eve, which happens to be the big day for my spouse’s family. We all anxiously await this day as we by tradition feast on a Scandinavian dish called palt. Palt is essentially boiled balls of potato and flour eaten with melted butter and lots of salt and pepper. To an outsider this tradition may seem very strange but once you have immersed yourself in the family you too become eager for the feast.

Christmas Eve is also when we exchange our gifts, usually around midnight as Gram arrives home from Christmas mass. This year my spouse and I decided to keep the gifts low key and opted to hand out framed photos of the kids (frames from the trash), home made jelly and handmade tree ornaments (made of sewing scraps). Gifts don't need to be elaborate or expensive to be meaningful.

We had a wonderful time and as usual, we were spoiled by all. I received some great multi tools and a flashlight, a walking stick and winter gloves, a craft kit and a pair of slippers to keep my piggies warm. While I was cleaning up the debris from unwrapping the kid’s gifts, I thought up a great use for those plastic coated wires that make it impossible to remove toys from the box.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. We are off to see my family tomorrow morning so there will be more to come in a few days including the JUNK FOR CHRISTMAS wrap up and conclusion as well as some great ideas for redefining Christmas with your family and returning to the things that matter most.

Don't forget to take a look in the bin when you discard all you’re wrapping. You'd be surprised what others through away.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Junk For Christmas/Solstice 2008

Well the Winter Solstice has passed us by but not without leaving all of us with a memorable night with good food, great friends, and plenty of fun. After my family and I completed our breakfast we gathered in the front room and exchanged gifts with each other. All the gifts we exchanged were either found objects or had been hand made from reconstituted materials by the person gifting.

Let's start with the little ones.

My daughter made me a wonderful Solstice tree ornament she made using pipe cleaners found in a box of discarded craft supplies, and previously discarded xmas bulbs.

She gifted to her mother a necklace and bracelet made from polymer beads she fashioned herself, with a little help from dad.

What a great kid.

My partner used her crafty talents to make our daughter a super cool needle book, as the girl is learning to sew. And it happens to be her favorite colors too.

The boy received a handmade stuffy constructed from corduroy scraps from past projects. Got to love the texture of cord.

To my son I gifted a series of story books, some toy cars, and a box of blocks all found during a trip to the dump. The bucket and shovel were found in the bin behind a local craft store.

For my daughter I created a treasure chest from materials scavenged from the local dump. The pine boards were off a discarded IKEA bed frame. The roll top was a door from an old appliance garage. The handles were of an old chest of drawers and the hinge from a entertainment unit.

I filled the chest with about 30Lbs of Lego and a good sized bag of Connects which I had procured from a bin at the dump. Time for a Lego creation I think.

To my partner I gifted a quilt rack which I built out of the base from a stand up mirror and some wood from the trash.

I also gave her a CD alarm clock found behind a local business with the cord end still in the bag. It must have been a display model. I made a morning mix CD for her with a collection of some of her favorite songs.

It was a great exchange and we all felt very fortunate for all we had received. More importantly we all felt very proud of ourselves for creating these well thought out gifts. I hope all had a great Solstice and have a great Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Coming Soon...

Tomorrow is the Solstice which is when Vegbee, Smootch, Birdie, and I welcome back the sun and exchange our holiday gifts. So check back soon for the first JUNK FOR CHRISTMAS expose. Have a happy Solstice!

To learn more about the cake click here.

It Never Rains But Poors

Do I really need to shower every day? Well, probably if I want to maintain any relationships or continue being employed. However on a physical sense frequent bathing is actually detrimental to your skin and hair’s condition as soaps strip away natural oils your body was designed to make use of. Many years ago it was common practice and widely excepted to only wash your hair once a week or even longer. Ritualistic brushing took place before bed to remove any debris, which also served to condition the hair. The cat and many other mammals like it clean themselves by licking their own fur, and these creatures are very soft. Now I don't recommend anyone take up the practice of licking themselves clean but I do encourage everyone to examine WHY they do the things they do. Perhaps some of us may decide to shower every other day saving half of the water we would typically use.

PS. Be sure to wash your hands after divin'. It's worth the water.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Carve It Up And Start Diggin' In!

Recently I have been challenging myself to rethink all my social teachings. My latest challenge has been to rethink the food I eat and the food I throw away. for years I have believed that bruises and blemishes on produce made them inferior and not fit to be consumed. Granted I still find it difficult to dish out $5 for a head of black spotted cauliflower or $3/Lbs. for bruised and blackened pears, but when the good food you purchase with your hard earned dollar starts heading south it's time to rethink the norm. Let's take a look at some of the foods I've shamefully wasted in the past and what could have been done to maintain their consumption destiny, preventing them from feeding the worms in my compost trench.

These pears had been allowed to blacken, forgotten in the back of the fridge where numerous containers were pushed and bumped against them. After a quick clean and some creative carving they were delicious to eat. The pears could have been consumed raw however with this many in my possession I decided to make some jam for the morning toast. Simply de-stem, juice and follow the recipe of your choice.

Avocados are notorious for becoming over-ripe before you get a chance to use them. Just peel and mash into a nice guacamole, use some of that dried up lemon in the back of the crisper to bring the dip to life.

Oranges and other citrus fruit will often appear dried up or bruised from the outside but inside awaits a wonderful addition to any breakfast.

Bruised apples make wonderful pie or apple sauce to feed the kids. You don't need to carve away the bruise just remove the worst of the damage, perhaps the entire peel, core, slice and bake.

Scabby potatoes and rough looking carrots only require a peel to reveal their true beauty.

Aren't they gorgeous?

Over ripe tomatoes make wonderful pasta sauce, salsa, or soup. Peel dice and cook.

More often than not the food we discard merely requires a paradigm shift in the way we think. So carve it up and start diggin' in.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Found The World In A Dumpster

The other day I was scavenging one of my favorite sites when I noticed the world beneath my feet. "How could anyone throw such a thing away?" Such a precious thing had been squandered. Resources of all kinds were involved in its creation, resources on an endless journey only to end up discarded like so much rubbish. How ignorant of us to allow ourselves to discard what we should hold so dear.

I for one have decided to save this world and proudly call it my own.

This map and others like it were found amongst the trash when they could have been donated to the local school or gifted to a child eager to learn from them. I've decided to keep it and call it my own.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Junk for Christmas Challange 2008 Update 16/12/2008

Well we're within a week to that crazy day and I'm seeing a drastic increase in the amount of useful items in the trash. At first, I thought this was going to be difficult but I'm finding it ridiculously easy to locate great items. I've become picky there is so much to choose from. I know some of you are eager to see what great things I've been acquiring but you will have to wait until Santa’s done his thing.

To keep you looking back I've written and now performed this original piece. The sound quality is poor as I'm using my webcam with built in mic but lets face it, it would be poor quality anyway.

Junk for Christmas by Fig Fighter

So you too can sing along here are the lyrics, happy divin'.
Junk for Christmas
Once I met a wise man and
he had lots to say
He asked me to stop buying junk
In which I’d through away

He told me all about the waste
that comes from Christmas night
and all the other wasteful days
this really just ain’t right

He said, I’ll be gifting junk for Christmas
Unlike you, I won’t have to pay
Oh, I’ll be gifting junk for Christmas
You may get, what you thought you threw away

If Santa knew about this greed
You can bet he would be pist
He’d surely have to write our names
Upon his naughty list

He’d plan to give us a lump of coal
And then he would think twice
All we’d do is toss it out
And the world would pay the price

He said, I’ll be gifting junk for Christmas
Unlike you, I won’t make the planet pay
Oh, I’ll be gifting junk for Christmas
You’d be surprised what others throw away.

The wise man he came up to me
He shared with me his plan
But said it only started there
We should change the thoughts of man

We can’t continue down this road
It surely will not last
So put your wasteful ways behind
And leave them in the past.

I’ll be gifting junk for Christmas
Unlike you, I won’t have to pay
Oh, I’ll be gifting junk for Christmas
You may get, what you thought you threw away

I’ll be gifting junk for Christmas
Unlike you, I won’t make the planet pay
Oh, I’ll be gifting junk for Christmas
You’d be surprised what others throw away.
You'd be surprised what you've thrown away.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What am I?

I live in a bag, within a bag, which is in a box wrapped in a bag, when I'm found I'm placed into a bag, and I used to live free in a tree. What am I?

Tea! There are alternatives, however if it is too inconvenient we'll all understand...

Even worse is that people throw them away before they are even used

These were discovered along with many others during one of my last outings. Think about the packaging when you buy, better yet grow your own.

Junk For Christmas Challenge 2008

Year after year, before I begin my x-mas shopping, I tell myself, "this year I am not going to spend over my budget," and year after year I do just that. I enjoy gifting and set out to find the perfect item for each member of the family, the problem is I never think it is enough and usually will add a little of this and a little of that. Before I know it, the budget is history and the trunk of the car is brimming with stuff.

This year I have decided to do things a little different. You see one thing that has become painfully clear over the last couple months of diving is that we all have too much stuff. So much so that we are all guilty of tossing away perfectly operational items simply because we don't want it or we already possess three of them and don't need the fourth. Or we are throwing away items that need a little glue, some polish, or simply a little elbow grease. It is much more convenient to replace said item than to waste our valuable time repairing, isn't it?

This year as a statement to the squanderous nature of our consumer culture, I will only be gifting items I have scavenged or reclaimed from the refuse pile.

These items can be handmade as long as the materials used in there construction are of the scavenged nature. I know, many of you are thinking I'm a cheapskate and are busy wishing my family luck while wondering where to send your condolences. Fear not, these gifts will not only be of superior quality but they will also be well thought out and carefully chosen for each persons individual tastes.

Check back for updates on my progress leading up to x-mas and be sure to visit in the New Year to see what items I unearth in pursuit of the perfect x-mas gift.

This snowman, which my daughter named Joe, was found in a dumpster within a box with a smushed corner. I'm happy to report there was nothing wrong with Joe.

Please feel free to take part in the Junk For Christmas Challenge 2008. You can tell us all about your plans in the comments below, and remember there are no lineups at the dump.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Land of Misfit Toys

With Xmas soon upon us all, the stores have the carols cranked, the cart castors greased, and enough Santa shrines to make any child question the old man's existence. After all, how could someone so important be booked to appear in every mall nation wide simultaneously? With all this cheer in the air only one question still remains. "What about the misfit toys?" I've been noticing a trend growing as the rush ensues where more and more items are being thrown away simply because they are not appealing, and perhaps because they may be difficult to wrap.

Just this evening I discovered these three Pottery Wheel Craft Kits. Upon inspection, all is in order with the exception of the packaging. These three luckily were saved from the...
Land of the Misfit Toys.
I'm sure little Bobby or little Suzy wouldn't have even noticed the small crinkle in the box with all the excitement of anticipated artistic discovery.