Tuesday, November 27, 2012

They Make Banana Slicers.

I'm not kidding. I almost feel like I don't need to say anymore.

But you know me. I shall say more.

A simple Google search on banana slicers, which I did not know existed until a good friend pointed them out to me, yielded not just one but many different types and styles to choose from. Because, you know, your hand and a BUTTER KNIFE just won't do. I have cut a banana into cereal WITH A SPOON so I didn't have to dirty another utensil, for frick's sake. WHO BUYS THESE THINGS??? I can't even imagine.

If you are spending otherwise perfectly good money on a plastic product like this, you need to be removed from the gene pool. Now. You need to stop using air. You need to not use otherwise perfectly good water that the rest of us need, for you to wash this thing. I suppose you wash out something that you only used to measure out water, too. You have your kids use paper or plastic or Styrofoam plates for dinner some days because you don't want them messing up other real plates. I'm just guessing, here. By all means, let me know if I'm wrong. You use lots and lots of single-use plastic bottled water - at home - which is the last place anyone needs it. You leave the water running while you do dishes and brush your teeth. You use a Kleenex to wipe your nose just once then throw it away even though there is plenty more Kleenex to use. You flush bugs. You think those disposable hand towels might be pretty nifty, because life is germy.

Actually, I'm not really sure what you are really like, if you are the kind of person who buys this sort of useless plastic crap thing. I think I'm pretty sure I don't really need to know you.

Please, just don't have kids.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Magic Tap: Plastic AND Batteries For What?

Here's another one of those wonderful solutions to a problem I did not know we had.

Is it convenient? Sure! Is it useful? Yes. Do people with small children or older adults who have problems lifting need it? Need? No. Helpful? Sure. I lean more toward the older adults, because people with small children don't need yet one more thing to duck out of when being around their kids. (Yeah, I said it. bring it. I'm a witch, not a fluffy bunny-land airy fairy.) It's the Magic Tap Automatic Drink Dispenser. Battery operated.

One of their selling points is that kids can help themselves now.When you have kids, you accept certain responsibilities. One of those is pouring the heavy stuff or cleaning up a spill when you let them pour the heavy stuff. Kids don't really need to be helping themselves to things all the time and you don't have to give them a sense of independence by letting them get their own damn drinks. They need supervision at certain ages. And if they are too small to handle a gallon container of something, then they are still at the age of supervision! Why do I care? Because this is more plastic crap that breaks and gets tossed when it doesn't work right and uses batteries which also just get tossed when they are spent... and really it's for nothing. This is not a problem. If it is, maybe you have to think about some things long and hard. This is simply a company trying to make money. They don't care about your home life. They just are trying to make a buck. Yay, America. Of course they are entitled, but it doesn't mean we have to fall for it.

Yes, I can see where it would be handy for people who cannot lift, or have arthritis, but look at this thing. It IS plastic crap. It can break anywhere so easily, or it'll be a pain to clean out when necessary so into the drawer it goes, then into garbage... and of course they are SO nice and cheap that if it breaks, just buy another, no problem! It's just part of a bigger picture. Solutions to problems we don't really have, and things we have dealt with more or less in an OK manner for years.

If the bottles are too big for little kids, handle it for them. If you don't have time, don't have kids. (Again... "witch." Sorry. It's long been my philosophy that if one doesn't have the time needed for kids or finds life too inconvenient with kids... don't have kids.) If the bottles are too heavy for some people, buy smaller amounts, or have someone (if you can) split them into smaller containers that are easier to manage. (Yes, I have more sympathy there, arthritis runs in my family and I realize certain things become difficult.) But please let's stop with the As Seen on TV crap that addresses made-up issues. We aren't helpless. Our predecessors got along without these stupid things, and just because we think of them doesn't make it "Progress." One of their claims: "If you're tired of lifting large containers, do yourself a favor and buy these." Notice a marked increase in obesity out there in the world? How about we DO lift heavy stuff for a change?


And actually, if your kid is standing there with the fridge door hanging open in the hot Summer while waiting to fill up a glass of plastic-encased high-fructose corn syrupy crap, you got more than just the one problem. Just sayin'.

Symptom of a bigger thing. Yeah, I picked on the Magic Tap, but really it's all these damn things out there. These stupid products sell millions and then end up where? You guessed it. Ever Ever Land. Part of which is right smack in the middle of all of our oceans.

Help with This One...

I love candles. Love love love them. I have some burning a really soft glow at my desk right now. Eco-friendly? Depends upon what they are made from, I guess. Some say soy candles are great. I say no, soy is very GMO. Beeswax works for me, but the vegans will say no to that one. I just buy candles. Good-smelling, inexpensive candles. I love the gentle smell and the soft glow.

The latest trend lately has been flameless candles. I'm a fire sign, so burning candles with actual fire is fine by me. I don't have kids to eff with them, and I place them out of range of my cats.

I'm not sure about flameless candles. They are pretty. I guess they have plastic parts, which is not great. When they are done being useful or stop working, they got to Ever Ever Land. Regular candles at least mostly get consumed. These... just stick around. And here's the part that gets me more: they can take 2 AA batteries or 4 AAA batteries. And while they are usually LED and take very little energy and do not actually burn through batteries quickly (pun intended), they are still using batteries. Which also stay in Ever Ever Land. And I don't know a whole lot of people using rechargeable. Oh, and some come with remotes. Gimme a break on that one. Remotes for candles.

In researching these, they seem very nice. They do last a long time, they take very little energy, and many are made of actual wax and emit a soft aroma. Actually, I had to laugh at a complaint I saw... apparently sometimes they flicker, then they'll go really bright for a few seconds, then resume flickering. THIS is your gripe?? Sigh. But anyway, I thought with the battery use they were a big bad idea, but now I am not so sure. Might they be better than candles? Candles have soot... candles can be made from bad stuff... I really just don't know on this one.

Those little fake plastic votives they use in restaurants now? Ick. Always hate those. Those really are just chunks of useless plastic and I cannot condone.

Thoughts? What say you? Fan of the flameless, just for certain areas, feel safer with them around? Maybe that's it. Maybe for just certain spots, and keep the other ones around too. Maybe it's a world where we have both. Let me know what you think...

Still can't quite take the FOUR AAA batteries per candle....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Or you can, you know, MAKE your own drinks.

My favorite holiday tradition... thumbing through the Bed Bath & Beyond mailer. After my head flew off at the old-timey Atari Flashback Game Console, with my inner child screaming how we HAD to HAVE that, I was able to look at the rest of the stuff. (But yeah. Oh yeah. Might have to get that. I'm only human. And a product of the late-70's-early-80's. I'm weak.)

But get to the section of "What more can I possibly spend money on that I really don't need?" That's where it gets good. Around the super-special wine openers and battery-operated wine preservers (Who are these people that leave opened wine around that long??? Just drink it!!) was the creme-de-la-creme of the perfect home wet-bar: the Margaritaville Mixed Drink Maker. If Jimmy Buffett is involved in this thing, I am truly embarrassed for him.

For a mere $299.99, you too can own this giant plastic monstrosity that you will use maybe twice a year and that takes up what looks like a go-awful amount of counter space, and of course don't forget to clean it out after use because if you put it away with the liquids in it they will go bad and get really gross... Oh yeah I am running out to get mine! Hope they don't sell out!

Oh, and then when you go to their site to check it out, on the FAQs they recommend using 16oz plastic party cups. Oh, and of course it uses power, so there ya go.

To summarize: giant plastic parts that when they break or you are sick of this just go into Ever-Ever Land (since, you know, plastic NEVER goes away, so it stays around for Ever), energy consumption required, and the potential for great amounts of wasted beverage. This, versus a coupla bottles of alcohol and mix, and then actually pouring drinks by hand. So pedestrian. So last century.
pouring drinks. Snort. The thought of it.

That's it. Just a tiny bit of holiday "extravagance" which is really just plain old stupidity. Surely there are more worthy things to blow this much money on, right? No? Surely.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

And Another Thing...

...that we can easily do without, that is, replace with something reusable that we all used to use.... Another great gift, that'll make them think of you every time they use it! I wasn't planning on a gift guide this year. It just so happens that a lot of these thing I am mentioning right now happen to make awesome presents!

PENS! How many pens do you go through in a year? How many do you lose in a year? Can't even think of the number? I save pens forever, but then when I go to use them after some time, they are dead. I LOVE pens, I love calligraphy, I like writing by hand. What's as cool as a beautiful fountain pen? It's a lost art. Why? Because we can't be bothered with ink anymore? Because... why because? Ink is too messy? Not really. Why is this worth the millions of pens that wash up from the ocean?

Washed ashore in Australia
I'm trying to make sense of all this "progress." Help me out here. How are we better off using plastic cheap throw-away-but-never-really-away pens? It's the little things. Because little things add up to and contribute to big things. Attitudes, even. When the littlest things are insignificantly disposable, it just goes right up the chain. If we have to care for and maintain the littler things, maybe bigger things mean more too. Does that make sense? When we have to stop and THINK... when convenience doesn't rule our lives... maybe.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. We need to value things more. So maybe the gift of a really decent pen that has a refillable life, rather than a throw-away destiny, is a really cool thing. I'm looking around at my "stuff"... especially as we prepare to move, and I thinking about what I can replace with something other than plastic. It's really not hard at all. I went somewhere the other day where I knew I would need a pen. I brought 3. ALL of them failed. Next time I am in the market for a pen, I will get one I can refill instead of replace. Same with my razor. My hangers. My kitchen stuff. All of it. If you are already doing that in your world, yay! Now start with these great things for this holiday season. Buy local and replace some things for your friends and family.

Hey, they don't even have to realize what you are doing. You can be all slick and sly about it. It's OK. We'll know.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's My Own Addiction

Lip gloss. I like it. I like a little color on my lips. I've talked about it before; I still fight it.

But at least I can maintain control in some other areas. We can all do the same. I love the ease and look of a liquid eye liner, but I will not buy one because it only comes in plastic that I see. Does this make me feel better about the plastic tube of colored gloss I bought? No. Not really. OK, a little.

UGH! So much plastic stuff around! I really do understand that we just want to be able to live our lives like normal people and not have to think about so many things all the time! Maybe if we had chilled on some of the truly stupid stuff... like plastic forks and spoons IN the home, we could get away with a few things here and there. But I have an addiction to pretty lip colors and I try, I really do, but I slip up here and there. I don't have a lot of income right now and I miss shopping for even the basics, and a 99 cent boost of color is a real draw. I know this; I understand. I know what it's like. Truly. I do it too, see? I'm GUILTY.

We just have to do the best we cam. Yeah, I buckled, but I refused the other thing. Sometimes when there are things I want, and they are only in plastic, I refuse. Life goes on. I can use an eye liner pencil just fine. I can do without the ranch dressing. I can do without mayo. It's all fine, we can all cut back. Yes, we slip here and there, but it's OK. Life does go on. Just keep a chin up, and keep trying.

I slip, but I still carry on. It's OK to slip. Just... try anyway. Hell, I wouldn't be able to get up in the morning. Seriously. Just keep swimming...

...while we still can.

Bring Back the Zippo

There are so many disposable things in our lives that we don't need to be disposable, it's mind-boggling. For example, take the easily-ignored lighter. There are a lot of smokers out there. I used to be one of them. How many times does it happen that they have lost the lighter? Constantly. How many lighters do we go through in the course of, say, a year? 3? 6? More? We have them left over from my smoker days and from when we have found them in the laundry room, etc. We use them to light candles and incense. They get lost or get used up, and thrown away they go. As I've said before, though, away isn't really away.

Cigarette lighters collected by volunteers;
 picture by D. Tsukayama,  Midway Atoll
Remember Zippos? Those awesome metal refillable things that just plain looked cool back in the day? Why did we abandon those in favor of plastic? Plastic lighters can be dangerous. I had one explode in my car once, as it sat too close too being in the sun as my car was parked at work. Plastic shards everywhere, lighter fluid smells. They go through the laundry. They end up in the ocean. They leak their toxic fluid into the ocean. They never go away. And for what? Convenience? Because we cannot be bothered to refill Zippos?

Here's what REALLY funny: It's very hard to buy the necessary lighter fluid. This I know because I was fond of using refillable lighters. They make it very hard to purchase that stuff. Because it's dangerous. I find that vaguely ironic, because I find the plastic lighters far more dangerous in the long run. Is that why people don't buy Zippos? Because it's too darn inconvenient to buy the fluid? That has to be the reason, because overall there really can be no other excuse. They have a lifetime warranty so it's not like it breaks and you are SOL. Pure, sheer convenience, I guess.

Look, almost all of us have need for lighters at one point or another. Lighting candles in the dark when the power goes out, camping, fireplace, pilot lights that went out... why not have something of quality that will last, rather than cheap dangerous plastic that ends up in the Midway Atoll of all places, in the stomachs of baby albatross??? What a great cool neat thoughtful green gift: a Zippo. I went to their site after thinking about this, and WOW! I have to say, I was even more impressed. What a great story they have, and what cool products. I don't get on people for smoking. It is what it is. I DO get on them for littering or for the plastic lighters. Matches are preferable, for that matter. But, yeah, let's please do away with plastic disposable lighters. There is nothing redeeming about them. We do not need them. The planet doesn't need them. They are bad-bad-bad. 

I will buy no more. When I find need for a lighter, I will purchase a Zippo and keep it forever. Better yet, I will find an older one and keep it forever. Those things rock my world.

I didn't intend this to be a commercial for Zippo, but it sure turned into one. HAH! This IS an indictment against plastic lighters. Please: buy no more. And think about gifting something to that candle enthusiast you know... a personalized pretty lighter is really a very thoughtful gift! Designed. Engraved. Whatever! They will think of  you every time they use it, too! Get one for the smoker in your life. Even if you do not approve of their choice to smoke, at least you can help them be a little better about it! Right? 

And when you go to Zippo's site, please tell them I sent you. Not that I'll get anything, just... well, they should know. Hah!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Seemed Like a Good Idea...

First, we'll tell the good story and give praise. Then, we shall discuss why it's still a bunch of horse-pucky.

"The story of the handle: 1. From plastic hangers. 2. To 100% recycled plastic. 3. To Xtreme3 Eco Handle.

"Schick Xtreme 3 Eco helps keep plastic waste out of the landfill by using 100% recycled plastic in the production of the razor handles. In addition, the package is made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper. It is still the same great shave for your skin, but now better for the environment. Aloe & Vitamin E; Flexible 3 Blades. Great for Your Skin; Better for the Environment; 100% Recycled Handle."

Great, right? Stop for a moment, and think about it. Plastic can only be recycled - actually downcycled - maybe once before nothing more can be done with it. Compare that to metals and glass which can endlessly be recycled into something equal. So, this "recycled" handle is now no longer able to be anything else after this, and so shall end up right where those plastic hangers would be anyway. Is that an improvement, or just a delaying tactic of the same result? Of course it's good if you buy these instead of their other lines with brand new plastic handles... oh... wait... so they are still making their other razor products with "virgin" plastic handles? Why, yes, yes they are. So all that plastic is still getting put out there in the world? Why, yes, yes it is. If they care so much, shouldn't they try to make ALL handles of all their products from plastic hangers? Hmm. Well, THAT would seem like progress. This? This is just a shallow effort to get some greenwashing money to try to make people think they are doing something green and great. 

There's no reason to continually use disposable razors. None. Even if you are using one with the little changeable heads, sure that's plastic, but it's a lot LESS. I have been using the same handle for the better part of a decade, and I use the heads way longer than a few weeks, because they are still good for a lot longer than the manufacturers say they are. Of course they are. Of course they just want you to buy more, more quickly. Not necessary. Someday, I will graduate back to a metal handle and real blades. Someday. 

What's even funnier is that when I was researching Schick and these greenwashed garbages, I came across another wonderful product they have: Xtreme3 with "SCENTED HANDLES." Yes, Hawaiian Tropic scented handles.

Um.... WHY???? Sigh. There is no hope.