Monday, June 11, 2007

Relections on Why I Do What I Do (at least what I report on doing here)...

So, being away from my usual life, haunts, and activities makes it a little more difficult to post in my usual way. That is, for the next several weeks I don't expect to drag much stuff out of the trash (I doubt that my hostess would appreciate it!). If I can remember to lug my big old camera along, I will take some pictures of relatively relevant things. But meanwhile, I thought I'd reflect on and write about the general content of this blog in a more abstract, general way. (Trained, and for many years employed, as a professional philosopher who, by definition thinks abstractly, this blog has been a welcome change of pace -- into the particular, the specific.) So, the question is, why do I take things from the trash, a practice that others find distasteful, even embarrassing? One reason is that because stuff in the trash is, well, FREE. I'm frugal, some would say cheap. (Here in the U.K. they say "tight". A British friend of mine likes to say "Tight as a gnat's chuff." Don't ask what a chuff is. But visit this great blog by my friend the Lynneguist to learn about all sorts of British/American linguistic quirks.) Why would I buy something that I can freely take from someone's pile of trash instead? Being raised by New Englanders I was early on taught to value my pennies, and this lesson certainly stuck. So, one reason to take stuff from the trash is simply to save money. I like stuff, especially old, used stuff, and trash day is one easy way to get it. Another reason though, is that waste really, really bothers me. The amount of waste in our society is staggering, and the waste we can observe is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. So, when I see some perfectly usable something out with the garbage, my inclination is to take it home and, well, use it. (Or, if I can't use it, find someone who can.) Every used thing that someone else has discarded (either in the trash or by giving it to a thrift store) that I take home is one less thing in a landfill.

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