Saturday, April 26, 2008

Yard Sale Blues

This is sort of a departure from the "consumer" meme, but oh well.

We tried to have a yard sale this weekend. Stupid Nebraska weather! I took most of the week off from work, and worked like a maniac pulling stuff out of closets, drawers, etc. to sell. Got it all consolidated in our living room/dining room, and spent HOURS putting price stickers on everything. Put an ad on Craigslist, and made signs.

The sale was supposed to be yesterday and today. I got up at 5:30 yesterday morning, had a couple cups of coffee, and went out with signs, staple gun, & packing tape. Put up the signs, came home, hauled everything out to our front yard. Ready to roll at 8:00. It started raining. Not just raining, but windy and cold. Pulled everything up on the porch, then checked Supposed to rain all weekend. Shit.

Went out and took down all the signs, then removed the ad from Craigslist. The biggest (size and price) thing we had to sell was bunk beds, so I put up an ad on Craigslist for that. Within a half hour, I had 2 calls about them. First guy that came to look at them bought them. He also looked around on the porch and bought a bunch more of our stuff (and said he'd come back today, but only had $10 with him then).

So, I guess this is a plug for Craigslist. What an amazing thing!! And it's beautiful that as soon as the item sells, you can delete the post & not have to field any more calls.

It's also a good thing that we have all of the stuff that we consciously made the decision about that we don't need consolidated in one place, and can dispose of elsewise. So, even though it cost a few days and didn't make much money, we get to get rid of a whole lot of stuff that we really shouldn't have gotten to begin with. There, I brought it back to consumerism.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Good Things Come In Obnoxious Packages

Our son and his wife were over the other night and said, "Mom, we've got a topic for your blog!" They wanted me to write about the annoying pseudo-Ziploc packages used for some food products, specifically cheese. Okay, I agree, they're obnnoxious and only work about 20% of the time; and, considering the money that packaging must cost, why bother? It occurs to me, though, that those are just the tip of the packaging iceberg.

Most annoying of all have to be the hard plastic packages they use primarily for electronics. We just bit the bullet last weekend and got cell phones. Our "package" included the phones, ear piece, car charger, and leather cases. All well and good, except that I had to break out the utility knife and waste nearly an hour just getting the stuff out of the stupid packages. Not to mention the myriad little cuts inflicted on my hands by the hard, sharp, plastic edges. They are truly the most evil invention ever foisted upon consumers.

I also hate styrofoam packages. Our favorite local Chinese restaurant has recently abandoned the charming little cardboard take-out boxes with handles in favor of styrofoam. If I didn't love their food so much, I'd boycott them until they went back to cardboard. HyVee Food Store also uses styrofoam for its meat. Not just the little trays -- really big styrofoam boxes with a shrink wrap top -- even for just a pound of burger. I totally avoid those and get my meat at the counter, even though it costs a little more (HyVee has really good meat).

Even weirder than that is a delightful little Lincoln grocery store called Ideal Market. It's a lovely store, very expensive, with the most helpful employees on the planet. They shrink wrap their vegetables. Want ONE bell pepper? It's shrink wrapped. They've been doing it for years, and I can't believe they still do it. It's totally perverse.

Have you purchased any sort of electronic product recently (like a TV)? The product itself only occupies about 25% of the box. The rest is all styrofoam. I don't even want to think about how much of that stuff is in the landfills.

I just got the link to the Fail Blog. This is one of the entries that I thought was particularly appropriate here.


I understand the need of manufacturers to protect the products during shipping, but fercryinoutloud there's GOT to be a better way! And I totally don't get how shrink wrapping an ear of corn protects it from anything (it actually accelerates its decomposition).

Anyhoo, this seemed like an appropriate topic for Earth Day. Please, please consider the packaging when you're making your purchases! At least, voice your concerns to the store manager when you see things that don't make any sense. There's a "green" movement nowadays, and it's gaining strength, so I think they'll listen if enough people complain.

Happy Earth Day, and go plant something (unless you live in Great Falls -- then you should wait a couple of weeks)!!