Do We Live in a Disposable Culture?

carts

Over the past number of years there’s been a great movement to cut back on waste, recycle more, and be more environmentally-conscious.   As a collective society, we pile up landfills at an alarming rate, so thankfully many individuals make a real effort to combat the production of trash. Even with recycling in my household, it startles me to see how many bags of recycling we take to the recycling center each week. It’s amazing how much packaging we run through on a regular basis.

But the disposable culture extends beyond plastic water bottles and aluminum cans. What about appliances and clothing? Do stores like Walmart and Target encourage us to live a life of “it’s cheap so I’ll just buy another”? I grew up in a house where, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” was the accepted philosophy. When we still primarily used landline phones in the 90’s, the phones were from the 70’s, my parents kept the same tv’s for years (and still have a couple of them), and we only got things like new backpacks every few years. If something broke, you tried to repair it because you originally invested in a worthwhile product. If you bought something new, you followed the same line of thought: quality over quantity.

I think it’s important to invest in good quality. While my motives are both financial and environmental, I think anyone can gladly hop on the financial part of this bandwagon. Why spend more on a regular basis, when you can spend a little bit more on something and get extra years of use out of it? It’s difficult with clothing for me because trends come and go and I like to look nice. I’m sure many of you feel the same way. But I have found that I can satisfy most of my shopping needs by buying more classic and simple looking pieces and filling in every now and then with something a little trendier. Buying appliances shouldn’t happen all the time either. Do a little research before you get a new appliance for your apartment. While it’s difficult buying a lot of things when you’re just starting out in a first or new apartment, consider talking to your friends who are moving and see if you can get something secondhand.

Another forgotten habit is learning how to fix things. Sometimes all you need to do is tighten a screw or glue something back together. Try learning how things are put together so you can possibly fix them later. Remember to keep your manuals when you purchase an item, too. You also might be surprised how many manuals are available online if you decided not to keep the paper copy. When it comes to mechanical objects having problems, it’s not so much a question of “if”, but rather “when”.

I may sound like a curmudgeon here, but I simply think that as a society, we should consider how we value and take care of our things. Object-worshipping is not the point here, but if you take care of your possessions, it will pay off in the long run!

Declutter for a Cause

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Whether it’s the weather that’s got you in a cleaning and decluttering mood or the fact that you’re moving out after graduation, it’s a natural time of year to shift gears and get things done at home. And this go around, instead of just tossing all your unwanted items to the curb, consider donating your gently used goods to local Gainesville organizations who will pass them on to those in need.

When I’m clearing out the clutter, I try to make three piles of items: things to put away, things to trash, things to donate. This will help you keep track, room by room, of where everything needs to go. While you’re sorting, keep these organizations and groups in mind for potential donations.

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore

The ReStore accepts donations of most household goods – appliances, furniture, decorative objects, books, cd’s, and tools. Proceeds from the ReStore’s sales go toward helping Gainesville families in need acquire a home of their own.

2317 SW 13th Street Gainesville, FL 32608

(352) 373-5728

Alachua County Tools for Schools

Tools for Schools is a program which helps provide area school teachers with the supplies their students need and may not be able to afford. You can donate office supplies of almost any kind, paper, math and science tools, and so forth. Check the website linked above for a complete list of suggested donations. The Tools for Schools center is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1:30-5:30 pm throughout the school year.

1147 SE 7th Ave

Gainesville, FL 32641

(352) 374-5213

Humane Society Thrift Store

The Humane Society’s thrift store collects used household items as well to benefit their shelters for animals. Most of the types of items you would be cleaning out of your apartment would be accepted there, like books, clothes, furniture, etc. However check the donations list on the website above to see some of the items not accepted at this particular store.

4205 NW 6th St.

Gainesville, FL 32609

(352) 373-9522

 

Recycling and Living a Little Greener in Gainesville

Have you always been a recycler or is it a new habit? With Earth Day as well as the signing of the Climate Agreement in Paris the same day happening recently, being earth-friendly is both an important and relevant topic. Making simple lifestyle changes and altering habits are easy and effective ways to reduce the amount of negative impact we have on our planet.

One of the best ways to reduce waste is to change lifestyles. Do you buy a lot of bottled water? You can easily replace this habit with buying several high quality reusable water bottles and cut down on waste. The simple act of buying fewer groceries and products made with a lot of packaging helps tremendously over time. So next time you are grocery shopping, pay attention to how things are put together and think about how much trash it will amount to.

What can be recycled? Here’s a guide to everything Gainesville accepts.

In Gainesville, commercial properties are required to recycle which means all apartment complexes have recycling collections. This makes it incredibly easy for you as an apartment dweller to do your part. Check with your property manager to find out what they collect in their recycling bins and where they are located. You may also want to find out when it is collected each week.

If you’re really interested in reducing your overall waste, you may find this article helpful and very inspiring.