Wednesday, January 02, 2008

How much is too much?

I am living on my own now for the first time (almost up to three weeks now! 27 is, apparently, an age of change for me). I knew I would need some things that I didn't have, but didn't realize at all how bad it was until I moved in. After the first day, I realized there were some necessities which were uncompromising mainly involving hygiene (also, mostly made out of paper-toilet paper and paper towels for example). Then came issues of storage--hangers, shelving and a desk were next on my list. Comfort items were put off (and on this one, I took a hit. One can sleep on the floor, just uncomfortably, thus a mattress is a "comfort item").

I am slowly filling my room, kitchen and half a living room with things now, but the initial impulse to buy everything I "need" is difficult to stop once started. The problem is, I am getting to the phase where I don't know what I "need" and what I "want". Moreover, when it comes to purchasing items, if one is to do so in a way that does as little damage to the environment and is still socially responsible, it makes shopping (and differentiating between necessity and desire) much more difficult. For example, since I have a roommate, I cannot make all the purchasing decisions. If my roommate doesn't have the same shopping ethic as I do, what do you do when the roommate's purchases go against your own ethic? Do you but something in duplicate and thus consume something unnecessary, or do you use something that was made with baby-seal fat in China by a sweatshop?

The second dilemma is cost versus quality. For example, the second day I was here, I saw a knife block at Target on sale for five dollars. It has steak knives, bread knives, paring knives and sheers. Obviously for five dollars, I didn't expect it to last a lifetime. Three weeks later, while at the store looking for a bathmat (something which I thought was a luxury but after slipping in the many puddles I left after showering moved into the necessity column), I saw a knife set for a much higher price. This one, however, is guaranteed for life and will, ideally, last me that period also (until I am dead. Feel free to bury it with me). So, I bought a second knife set and am giving the first to my current roommate as I know she would never buy one for herself.

The last dilemma I have is a new one. So many things are pseudo-green that I don't know what to do. What I mean is, if something is not necessary, but it is made out of sustainably harvested wood, is it OK to buy it? I mean...buying something that you don't need to begin with, even if made out of bamboo or something...does it help? Or, does the fact that it's "sustainably made" cancel out by the fact that it didn't need to be made to begin with?

That being said, I'm going to put my new twenty piece set of stainless steel silverware into the bamboo drawer organizer I bought today. It doesn't fit into the drawer (or any of the drawers in the kitchen for that matter) and then I'm going to go buy a tape measure as my mom recommended. Again, the answer to so many of my questions was only a phone call away--remember kids, if Mom says to get it after all those years of being a Mom, it's probably a "necessity" even if you don't think so.


Blogger MM said...

Adam you are so witty. I remember when you started this blog, I am extemely pleased to see how good you are at updating it. I've not added you to my daily blog round...I am an addict you know.

12:53 PM  
Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

I never did resolve these issues you are now wrestling with, so I moved back home and now have become a certifiable anomaly: a college professor of half a century living with the 'rents. Somehow I think you are destined for greater heights...

7:08 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

I think that is actually a good solution. So many societies the family stays intact and there is no "need" for every 18 yr old to get his or her own apartment. This did, however, rest upon the fact that children all eventually got married. Some hybrid of American and other cultures may be a part of the solution to waste and consumption...a large part, however, I doubt.

1:31 PM  

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