Sunday, November 4, 2007

Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Need

Bath towels. Much less bath sheets. An average hand towel will dry an above average size (that's how I like to think of it) woman, with medium-length hair, easily. It's a more easily manipulated size cloth, takes fewer resources to make, purchase, and launder----and you can slip into your cushy bathrobe afterwards.

  • Tea kettles. There are so many handy hints for descaling, deliming, descumming teakettles that it makes one to wonder: why do we drink out of these impossible-to-clean one trick ponies? Because of the whistle? Boil water in a small saucepan. Measure the amount you want first, instead of constantly boiling too much. A wide-bottomed saucepan, with a lid, will allow water to be exposed to more of the heat source. If you miss the whistle, just put your lips together and blow.

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    Introducing the concept of focussed spending:
    Nobody is insisting you give up your bath towels, if you really love your bath towels. But do you really love them?

    Amy Dacyzyn, founder of the Tightwad Gazette, was constantly dogged by accusations of extremism. Her experimentation in pennypinching sometimes pushed the envelope of practicality or even comfort, but she did not insist that everyone adopt her way of life wholesale, you should pardon the expression. She opened up possibilities for people, some of whom couldn't imagine how to make ends meet. What do you really love? What do you really want? What you have, do you use it? Do you enjoy it?

    I had a friend who rose very quickly in his company, and suffered from sudden onset overcompensation-induced delerium. In other words, he was paid too much. He could buy almost anything! His restless eye swept every establishment he entered for spending possibilities. In the window of the corner liquor store was a dusty bottle of vintage port, with a seven-hundred dollar price tag. "You know, I could buy that," said my friend, "I have the money. I'm thinking about it." He was all of twenty-seven at the time. He'd had port twice before in his life, but he was a fan of nineteenth-century novels in which country squires were always saying to their dinner guests, "A glass of port with you sir!"
    I was able to coax him away from the port, only because I persuaded him that the corner store's window wasn't temperature-controlled. But if he had bought the port, he would have had to pretend to enjoy the faded, raisiny syrup.

    For the health of the planet, for the health of your wallet, it would be good not to buy more than you need, than you really, really need. But if that sounds too difficult and spartan, how about starting with not having more than you can enjoy? Is that too radical?

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