Sigh. I just want to opt out of this whole consumer mess. (Long ramble) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 01-04-2009, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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After struggling a while with a lot of strong feelings about people giving me/my family gifts we don't want, I managed to just "let it go" - not primarily to "preserve the relationships" as much as seeing that I have no control over other people, and therefore it seems I have the choice of breaking relationships AND getting junk, or getting the junk and keeping the relationships. That conclusion may be faulty, but I read almost any thread on MDC on this topic, and I have yet to see any stories about how people managed to stem the tide of gifts while preserving harmony.

I managed to get through the holiday season just fine, and we - especially DD of course - received a lot of crappy stuff. I got through it fine. But the AFTERMATH is really getting me down.

The majority of DD's gifts are breaking. They are horrible plastic things. I keep sighing and thinking about how these things were made just for the purpose of selling them (as opposed to being made for the purpose of being played with). And my DD is getting, only, say, an hour's play (sometimes significantly less) out of an item before it breaks. And off it goes to the landfill... FOREVER.

DH is feeling the same way. One of DD's gifts was a set of play cleaning tools - all plastic of course. A swiffer-style mop, a broom, squeegee, dustpan, squirt bottle. Honestly, DD likes them; she enjoys "helping" us clean and likes having her own tools. But DH said yesterday exactly what I was thinking: is it WORTH it? Sure, DD likes them, but is that WORTH the price we pay (not the $ that MIL spent on it... which was too little, actually... but the price our planet and also the people who actually manufactured the toy - ah, you guys know what I mean).

Yesterday, also, I was using the vacuum cleaner and accidentally sucked up a small barrette of DD's that I didn't see. DH came and unscrewed the bottom part to retrieve it from where it was stuck, but the screws were fixed into PLASTIC casing, and naturally the plastic split. It was apparently only built to be screwed once. This vacuum cleaner is about a year old. Now, it still works, and DH was able to put everything back together, but it's broken and it's not going to last indefinitely. He says he'll try superglue or something next. But this made us so angry. This vacuum cleaner should not be in the landfill for a long time. Honestly now I feel bad I ever got a vacuum cleaner in the first place; it should NEVER be in the landfill. We shouldn't have any carpets!

So now you see where I'm going... we're definitely part of the problem, but I just don't know how to opt out. Not just from the gifts, but of the whole thing.

DH and I were discussing buying an arable piece of land to live off of, but I just don't know if we could do it. I have multiple disabilities, and while I could probably do a lot of stuff, I don't know if I could pull my weight. That's all besides the fact that we're not farmers and don't know much of anything, and have no idea how we could make enough money to pay the bills - without also working a second job on top of being exhausted with growing food. And we just can't totally opt out, you know?

If you followed me this far, thank you.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#2 of 7 Old 01-04-2009, 12:04 PM
 
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I know how you feel. I have tried to lessen the number of plastic toys by passing out catalogs with natural toys in them and by making suggestions to family members. it seems to be helping actually. Of course the junk that gets thrown out is gross, but I am working on babysteps. As far as self supporting on the land, I would try small steps here as well, Where ever you live you can start with a container garden, see if it is worth it to you. Remember that even the little things are better than what the majority of americans are doing right now...

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#3 of 7 Old 01-04-2009, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Katrinaquerida View Post
I know how you feel. I have tried to lessen the number of plastic toys by passing out catalogs with natural toys in them and by making suggestions to family members. it seems to be helping actually. Of course the junk that gets thrown out is gross, but I am working on babysteps. As far as self supporting on the land, I would try small steps here as well, Where ever you live you can start with a container garden, see if it is worth it to you. Remember that even the little things are better than what the majority of americans are doing right now...
Yeah, I have a square foot garden. I also just signed up for a CSA (which also sells some local grains, meats, dairy and honey) so I'm hoping the great majority of our food starting in June will be from extremely sustainable, organic, local sources. And I will try my hand at preserving for part of next winter, but realistically we're going to buy from the grocery store in November or so. But it's a start.

We're not The Green Family Of America or anything, but we do take baby steps. Like we quit using paper towels about a year ago, and never went back (that was quite easy for me, but a big step for DH, and I appreciate that of him). We use absolutely zero chemical cleaning products except dish soap and shampoo (so, yeah, those are next to examine). Anyway, the point is that, yeah, we actively work on it.

I don't know if it makes me feel better or worse that we're X times better than the average American family. Well, it makes me feel worse probably.

We visited my parents (across the country) last month and it was very frustrating to see how they live. I watched my father empty the trash can (with a full bag) 6 times in 5 days. (We generate 1 bag in 7 days... still not that great, but...). They purchase everything with convenience in mind. They don't want to do any extra dishes, so they buy beverages in single-serving containers, for example. And do not recycle them. DH had to bite his tongue when we all watched Wall-E together and my mother said "wow, that film has a real message." (Dunno if she was referring to the trash, the crappy eating, screen addiction, or the love message). Didn't change a single thing she did, though.

Anyway, the experience made me feel horrible because I'm constantly wondering where my parents fit in terms of the "average" American family. Are they worse? Are they better? God I hope they are worse.

Listen to me ramble again... aiaiaiai.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#4 of 7 Old 01-04-2009, 12:40 PM
 
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I know exactly what you mean! I hate, hate, hate how poorly things are made.

I understand how you don't want to tell people what to buy for your dd. Personally, I think it's better to try to avoid products that are planned to break than to opt out completely. It's hard, and I do not succeed by any means, so don't think I'm trying to preach here. For example, I bought a Lexmark printer in March just because it was $20 cheaper than the one I could tell was better. And, of course, it just broke completely. And I've bought cheap-o vacuums before, too. And then, of course, you never know. Some things that you think are going to be super crappy turn out to last and last. Anyway, I think it can be done! You can research almost every product and get great reviews on Amazon, you can buy used products that can be repaired, you can try to make use of other existing products, you can buy things that don't require disposable add-ons (Swiffers, vacuums with bags, etc.) Don't give up!

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#5 of 7 Old 01-04-2009, 02:50 PM
 
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I understand the frustration about the aftermath of th crappy toys. I don't tell people not to give us plastic junk instead told them that we have a too many toys but would love some art supplies to get us through the long winter. I also asked for things to go with things we already have - some more wooden furniture for the doll house, some more trains for the wooden train set. My family has also gotten better about giving us museum passes. Love those. I find that as long as I dont insult them about what they have always be buying, they are happy for the suggestions and it is a win/win.

Let them sleep in the middle, Let them be little
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#6 of 7 Old 01-06-2009, 01:05 AM
 
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I saved the 'junky' toys to donate to Toys For Tots next year. My kids are very rough on their toys and I knew they would break and wind up in the landfill. I figured we could try and pass them on to someone who isn't as fortunate, my kids have too much stuff already.

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#7 of 7 Old 01-07-2009, 01:56 AM
 
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Thank you for your rant! It's nice to know we're not alone in feeling some of the things you describe. You are making such a difference for your family and maybe most critically, you're trying to live by your conscience and I find that honorable and inspiring!

We get tired sometimes and need to remember to do what you're describing -- keep taking baby steps. We hope to almost totally 'opt-out' one day, but that's several years away at best.

As far as gifts go, we asked last year for the grandparents to give only 2 gifts and this year we lowered that to 1. Last year was a fight with one set of grands, this year was a breeze. Anything plastic, foam or junk leaves the house the next day for goodwill.

DS is totally on-board with this because he's seen so many cheap plastic toys break after 15 minutes of play.
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