Ouch! See what you made me do? Humple Dumple
Humple Dumple is not happy with Isasnora! Find out why by clicking this link for YouTube.
The idea for this episode came from shopping sprees at some resale shops. Packed tighter than someone's plate in a buffet line, these stores squeezed in endless rows of clothing, toys, dishes, household items and tools. What surprised me most was the items were in great condition - or fairly good condition.
What happens to all the stuff that never gets sold?
There are countless resale shops, but the one most familiar to people is Goodwill, so we'll use that as our example.
In a Huffington Post article, items from Goodwill stores go on a journey. If they don't get sold in the store, they go to a Goodwill outlet store where the items sold are even less expensive. From there the unwanted items get auctioned off or recycled back into the resale industry. From there some of the clothing is cut up into rags or used as filler for furniture. Five percent ends up clogging the earth (1).
Today most people in the USA do not think too much about their buying and recycling habits. Yes, there's a lot of information about recycling, but I'm not sure it's uppermost in our minds when we're seeing and buying new things. We have so many opportunities to shop and have new items anytime we wish. It almost seems wrong not to have a new outfit or new vehicle every season. I am not pointing fingers at anyone! The truth is I love shopping and I love new stuff!
In the past, however, especially during Isasnora's time - Middle Ages - things were scarce, so they often had to to with very little. The idea of having extra to share (or drop off at a Goodwill) might have been an idea for the kings, queens, and nobles, but for the everyday family, they kept everything.
Clothing would not be thrown away. Fine clothing that was no longer wanted would be passed down the social ladder. Peasants wore their clothing until it was literally rags. Rags were very useful in an era without facial tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, or feminine hygiene items. Once paper came into common use, rags were also used to make paper (2).
Though we often think of the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages, we can learn from the people from that era. Maybe we should not so quickly buy things or throw them away. Our world is huge. We could probably afford to fill it up with more landfills. The question is - do we want to?
Do A Little Experiment
Take a banana peel (or some other fruit peel or vegetable peel) and one of your toys. If you have a yard, find a spot with dirt and bury the peel and then bury the toy. Mark your calendar. Go back in a week and check. Continue doing this until both the peel and the toy have disappeared into the earth. You could also do this in the city. Get two boxes; put your toy in one and the peel in the other. Cover them completely with dirt.
Granted, this isn't the most scientific of experiments, but I wanted you to get an idea of what happens to things that are not plant or food based when they are buried in the earth. For some items, they will break down but others could take millions of years. The other question we need to consider is when these items break down and "disappear," are they adding nutrients to the soil or chemicals that are dangerous?
One day I'm sure someone will figure out a way to break down all the stuff we're throwing away into something useful. Until then, maybe cultivating a few habits will help shrink the landfills and clean our earth. Maybe we should not always buy the latest gadget, toy, or outfit. You might think these things make you popular. If they do, it's only for a short while. If we need something, maybe we could check resale shops, garage sales, or online resale vendors (make sure you wash them before using). And, when something is no longer useful to you, share it with someone or donate it (or if you're crafty make it into something different). Please do not just throw it in the garbage!
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or you wish to share the results of your experiment!
Thank you for reading.