Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

February 28, 2008

Wow.

We’ve had over 1,500 hits on our blog since yesterday…up from our average of around 50. I guess that’s what people call the “Oprah Effect.”  :)  Hi everyone! Welcome. We’re really glad to have all the visitors and all the wonderful and encouraging comments.

We’ve had a lot of people express their interest in the subject and even in possibly organizing a “trash tour.” Though we’re unable to answer everyone’s comments, I am so glad to see enthusiasm in the idea that ordinary people can make a stand against our nation’s rampant consumerism and waste. The trash tour would be more difficult than in New York, since we can’t simply walk from place to place. But we might be able to figure something out. At the very least, I would love to organize a meeting where we could discuss some of the different aspects of freeganism.

Thanks again to the wonderful people at Oprah who invited us to this conversation. I just have a couple of initial thoughts after the show.

I’ve seen a couple of comments on various places pointing out (often angrily) that “freegan” is just a new label for something that’s existed for years. That may be true. People have been dumpster diving ever since there were dumpsters, although freeganism is certainly much more than that. People have been repairing and reusing clothes and products for years. Many people in this country who were involved (whether adult or children) in the Great Depression still hold high values such as thrift, frugality, resourcefulness, and minimal waste. However, the voluntary practice of freeganism in an attempt to make a statement against overconsumption may not be as well known. In fact, we didn’t really know what freeganism was until long after we started practicing it. Even now, our approach is different than true freeganism, as are some of the ways in which we carry out our convictions. So don’t get too caught up in the term “freegan”…if you’re doing your part, you can call yourself a “bleekybleeky” for all I care.  :)

One other thing I’d like to quickly address is that of corporate donations. The show made it seem that no grocery stores donate any of their products, whereas that definitely does occur. I actually just found out that a guy at our church works specifically to convince corporations to make donating mandatory for local store managers, all in an effort to get more food donated to Second Harvest Food Bank (from there, it’s distributed to homeless shelters, etc). Costco donates, at the least, shopping carts full of bread and other pastries every day. So we do know that this happens, and encourage it. We will say time and time again that we wish dumpster diving wasn’t possible because stores donate everything possible, but that’s simply not the case…yet.

To those involved in the food / grocery business, please check out the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed by Clinton in 1996. It removes any liability for good faith donations to non-profit organizations such as Second Harvest. We have so much surplus food in this country that no one in the United States should ever go hungry. Please, I beg you, to consider those who are less fortunate and take the time and energy to see to it that everything that can be used is donated. It may take a little research on your part and it might require a few extra hours of labor a month, but even outside of your moral obligations the financial benefits are plentiful (the Second Harvest website is a wonderful tool and great place to start or increase your donations).

With that said, food donations are wonderful, important, and needed…but they will never be enough. Freeganism, like I mentioned, is about so much more than how much food we waste. We should get surplus food to where it’s most needed, we should recycle our cell phones after we’re done with them, and we should always give to places like Goodwill before we give to our landfills. But none of that significantly decreases our consumption of the earth’s resources, and it’s time we started thinking about the devastating effects of that overconsumption. Freeganism goes further than being responsible with our waste; it begs the question “why do we have so much waste in the first place?” It’s time we started loving our neighbors by shredding our credit cards and treading lightly on the earth…somewhere other than a shopping mall. 

Since we leave Friday for a medical mission trip to Haiti, we’ll be out of touch for a bit. I promise we’ll try to answer some comments eventually. In the meantime, so that our blog doesn’t become a meetup site (grin), here’s an e-mail where you can let us know of your interest in getting together with us…either for a trash tour or an informal meeting to discuss freeganism in Nashville. It’s nashvillefreegan@gmail.com and as soon as we get back we’ll start working to make that happen. In the meantime, browse around the blog and feel free as always to leave comments!!

Peace to all.

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February 26, 2008

Freegans on TV

I’m not sure what we can or can’t say about our upcoming TV appearance. So I’ll just post this straight from the website…

oprah.jpg

Yep, that’s me in the dumpster (those tomatoes were yummy, by the way). The show will air tomorrow, Wednesday the 27th. Hope you can tune in!!

Madeline did a great job, we thought. Amanda and I felt that we were too scared and shell shocked to really articulate ourselves well, but our hope is that at least viewers can see our convictions in action if not in words. Hope you enjoy. And don’t laugh at my hair…they used a gallon of hair spray and tried hard (though it was quite difficult for them) to make it look like I cared about fashion and appearance. :) Amanda was gorgeous, as always.

Hope you enjoy. We’d love to hear what you think!

February 24, 2008

To New Friends and Cool People

Filed under: Just for fun — theburts @ 12:47 am

We’ve met some cool people lately. Some have been through our involvement with the media. Some have been through random meetings, or conversation with patients.

I had a patient yesterday who was retired, but continuing his 40 year trade of repairing sewing machines. I love the ideas of trades vs. careers/jobs. Anyway, we ended up having a long conversation about the difference in his generation and today…where I guessed that less than 10% of people my age and younger have ever entered a TV repair shop, shoe repair shop, or had their sewing machines repaired. Nowadays, we just toss it and buy the new one…after all, that’s what the good little consumer is supposed to do, right? But we had a great talk, and agreed on how sad it is that trades like his are becoming more and more rare because of our disposable society. Then my first patient today was from Chicago, so we talked about Oprah, and she is interested in going dumpster diving with us! (Hi patient! I can’t say your name due to HIPAA rules. heheh) Plus Amanda and I got to go hang out with friends from our small group (well, not our small group, but a small group from another church) last night and tonight. We played Rock Band last night (can we say addicting? it’s good we don’t have one, cause I’d play it all the time), and Clue / Apples to Apples tonight. Great, entertaining, and relaxing couple of days since we’ve been back…and some successful dumpster diving. It’s just cool that we’ve been meeting and hanging out with all kinds of new people!

But the three people I wanted to write about most were Madeline, Courtney and Lisa.

Madeline is a freegan in New York, and she’ll be on the show Wednesday as well. She was soooo nice. We really enjoyed talking to each other about our lifestyles. She comes at things from a different angle, but is wonderfully living out her convictions. Check out the site she helps run at Freegan.info. We really want to go visit her in New York, as she said (after, I admit, I kind of asked) that we could stay with her. She really impressed us with her decision to take the train from the airport to the hotel and back…declining the free limo service to reduce fuel consumption. It’s great to see people practically applying their words. Thanks for the great encouragement, Madeline, you’re a kindred spirit.

The second was Courtney, a 2-time breast cancer survivor who we met on the plane back to Nashville. From Oregon, she has dedicated much of her life to breast cancer awareness because of her history with the cancer. She was spirited, positive and fun, and actually runs a company that makes really cool lapel pins, PinkWings. She saw our gift bag that had Harpo written on it, and after inquiries led to our purpose in Chicago we chatted the whole way to Nashville. Courtney really wants to get on Oprah to help spread awareness, and I hope she gets the chance! Thank you, Courtney, for giving back in the way that you do. (Hope your conference was splendid!)

Last, but not least, is Lisa Ling. I’ll admit I didn’t know who she was until Amanda told me. heehee. Even though she’s a famous reporter, she remained approachable and extremely pleasant. She made Amanda and me feel very comfortable. I just admire her greatly for her reporting on subjects like sex trafficking, war, poverty, and all sorts of other current day injustices. Her website is LisaLing.com if you want to check it out. We need more reporters like this who are willing to risk it all to bring light to areas where darkness prevails. Thanks for all you do, Lisa.

That’s it for now. Anyone else met any cool people (famous or not!) lately???

February 18, 2008

Why we dumpster dive and recycle, Part 3

In Part 2, I discussed the reasons why we recycle. This post will focus more on reasons why we dumpster dive. And this, my friends, is (I think) the last post in this whole series! My goal in writing this series has been mostly that of inward reflection…thinking out loud about our reasoning behind some of the things we do. In a few days, Amanda and I will be appearing on a well known national talk show to talk about our dumpster diving habit. I figured writing about the topic first would help me better articulate my thoughts on the subject.

We had/have some reservations about being public about it. 1) We’ve only been doing it a couple years now, where people have been dumpster diving ever since there were dumpsters to dive in, 2) We’re a long ways from where we want to be regarding our energy use, simplicity of living, and even waste production (we don’t even compost yet!) and 3) Most people wouldn’t necessarily welcome national media attention for digging through trash. But we later decided that we didn’t have to be representatives of the entire dumpster diving population, that imperfect people can make a positive difference, and that nationwide attention probably wouldn’t ruin my career. :) A platform to call for change. A once in a lifetime opportunity to speak some of our convictions to the world. It still seems weird how that something two ordinary people are doing can bring so much attention. I guess it’s because the act of dumpster diving, especially when the divers are both professional career persons, is anything but ordinary. Which brings us to one of the reasons we dumpster dive…

Dumpster Diving is a radical way to point out the overconsumption and careless waste in our country. (Radical enough to be noticed by national TV, I guess!) Hopefully not just to point out the flaw, but to educate and encourage the audience to change some of their own habits. We are not going on TV to convince people that they, too, should dumpster dive. But we do hope to ask everyone to come up with creative ways to decrease their own personal consumption and waste.

Remember when the desert fathers made their radical move away from the affluence of their day? Well, we’re not like them. :) But, in a very small way, it’s similar. They weren’t asking everyone to join them in the desert. Instead, they were making a radical statement against the church’s new marriage with the wealthy empire by taking vows of poverty and moving to abandoned areas. Amanda and I feel that our nation’s consumption and waste is out of control, and we feel so strongly about it that we will live in a way that speaks loudly against it. Like I illustrated in the story I wrote, our nation comprises around 5% of the world’s population, yet we consume around 30% of the world’s resources and produce 30% of the world’s trash. I mentioned in the last blog that one of my reasons will explain why recycling isn’t enough. This is it. Yes, we need to reduce our country’s waste production. But we are also consuming the same percentage that we’re wasting. The earth has a limited amount of resources, and we are using far too much. We may have been born privileged into a highly luxurious, technologically advanced way of life with every comfort imaginable. But that doesn’t give us the right to irresponsibly trash the planet. It’s simply unacceptable, and we all need to do our part to care for the earth.

Now, to be perfectly honest, we don’t think about all that every time we dumpster dive. It’s not like we’re sitting around discussing how our nation is over consuming and over wasting, then decide to hop in the car and go save the world by redeeming trash. But dumpster diving does help us keep consumption and waste in mind, and is a constant reminder to use the old instead of buying the new. It’s drastically reduced our desire to go to the store and buy something, and therefore has helped us in our desire for simplicity as well.

Now, for some more tangible reasons why we dumpster dive…

It saves money! Every item redeemed is a dollar saved (or $40, occasionally!). Just like with the money saved from living simply, this frees up more resources for good (giving, getting out of debt, work less / volunteer more, etc). Josh estimates that he only spends about $10 a week on food nowadays…the rest is obtained from dumpsters. We’re not quite that good at it, but we do save a lot every month. When we got married, we started our grocery budget at $200 a month. So far, we haven’t come anywhere close to that number, mostly because of redeemed food.

It’s an adventure! Amanda likes to relate it to a treasure hunt, because you never really know what you’ll find. I think it’s like a birthday, where the presents come wrapped up in a big dirty metal box. Either way, it’s fun, exciting, a little daring and thrilling, and often results in joyful celebration when there is much loot. On a side note, we do often discuss how that we should probably celebrate more when the dumpsters are empty! Our preference would be that dumpster diving isn’t possible since stores didn’t throw good things away. Instead, we’d rather they donated all good food to local food banks, and slightly damaged items, poor selling items, or overstock items to Goodwill (which we think Target does some, by the way). But, until that day happens, we can at least have fun when we score big. :)

It’s a cheap activity! Read what my former community member Ariah Fine said. “Some people like to go bowling, to concerts, out to eat, I like to dumpster. We all want entertainment, I’ve just struggled to spend $8 on an evening of leisure when so many in the world never think about leisure and entertainment as their stomach growls. So, I’ve endeavored to find things to enjoy that don’t include spending money (thus redeeming my dollars from wasteful self-pleasure), one of those things is dumpstering. And it’s been a lot of fun.”

It’s the only way we’ll ever obtain certain “luxury” items! The coffee pot, for instance. We don’t drink coffee, but my family does and I make coffee for some homeless folks when I volunteer at my office once a month. It would’ve been hard to justify a purchase of a new coffee pot over the borrowing of one every time I needed it. But it’s sure nice to have now that I found it in the trash (and replaced the cut cord)! The pepper grinder is neat, too, but we never could have justified spending $10 on it. It’s like going on a guiltless shopping spree…guiltless because your convictions about using money wisely are completely irrelevant when shopping in dumpsters!

So there are some reasons why we dumpster dive. We’re a little crazy, we know, but we’re OK with that. Who knows, maybe a few hundred of the 7.4 million who watch this show daily will be spurred to action. Maybe someone will decrease their spending habits and experience joy in their newfound respect for the earth. Maybe a corporate leader or grocery store manager will do what they can to donate everything possible to local homeless shelters. Maybe some will catch a brief glimpse of our happiness and realize it’s possible to be wonderfully free and content with less. And then, instead of pursuing the American Dream, maybe they will find happiness in doing small things with great love for God, their neighbors, and the rest of His beautiful creation.

February 16, 2008

Why we dumpster dive and recycle, Part 2

So now for the why. Here’s a one sentence answer. We recycle and dumpster dive because we care about God’s earth and its inhabitants, and we believe that consuming and wasting too much of the planet’s resources is destroying both.

As I’m starting to write out my thoughts on this, I’m realizing that recycling and dumpster diving are both similar and different. An obvious similarity is that both reduce waste. Whether you’re pulling something out of the trash or refusing to throw something in, you’re reducing waste either way. The difference? Recycling and dumpster diving are attacking different parts of overconsumption. Again, I highly recommend that you watch Annie Leonard’s video on “The Story of Stuff,” because she explains the life of products much better than I can! I’m not even going to try explaining all the ins and outs of that process, but here’s a small part of it.

In the making of a product, there is consumption of resources to make that product, and there is what happens to that product after its usable life. (Of course, there’s more to it, like the assembly and marketing of the products and all the people involved in the whole process of production, but I won’t try to tackle everything at once.) For resources used to make a product, we use both limited (oil, metals) and renewable (trees) resources. Then, when we’re done with it, we dispose of our wastes in several ways, some more harmful than others. Recycling simply takes what can be reused and puts it back into the process of production, reducing waste and the materials needed to make new items. Dumpster diving not only reduces waste, but also demands less consumption of the earth’s resources.

To give an example, when I redeemed the coffee pot from the dumpster last week, I no longer need to buy a new one for my office. The resources required to make that new product I needed can be saved. I didn’t only free up a square foot in the landfill that coffee pot would have filled, but I freed up resources that would’ve been used to make the new coffee pot I’d have had to buy at the store. It seems totally insignificant when you think of one item, but if a thousand coffee pots were redeemed along with thousands upon thousands of other still-good products thrown away every day…the resources needed to make those, the energy used to manufacture them, and the space they’d have otherwise filled in the landfill all add up.

Recycling. We recycle because it’s an easy and fun way to show concern for the environment. When God gave humankind “dominion” over the earth, I don’t think He meant for us to trash His creation. Dr. Matthew Sleeth, in his book “Serve God, Save the Planet,” parallels that to leaving your kiddo in a daycare and coming back later that day to find your kid beaten and bruised. He also points out that, when we loan someone our automobile, we expect it to come back in the same shape. Shouldn’t we care about God’s beautiful creation at least as much as we care about our cars? It’s easy to find information about landfills filling up, animals being killed from our trash, toxic wastes being released into the atmosphere from incinerators, etc. Aside from our devouring of earth’s resources, we’re causing tons of problems just with our waste alone. In 1960 the average person produced around 2.7 pounds of waste per day. I’ve seen various numbers, but all of them report over twice that currently (some say three times that amount)…we’ve more than doubled our waste production in the last 50 years. Recycling reduces waste, save energy, reduces water pollution, creates jobs, protects wildlife, prevents more contamination of the atmosphere, and creates more demand for recycled products, increasing the effect (source).

Amanda and I went to the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago with a church. We toured two entire “cities” of hundreds upon hundreds of homes built into massive landfills. Before that trip, I’d never given recycling a thought. But I saw the effects of a civilization’s waste, and as I’m finding to always be true, the one’s who were paying for it were the poorest of the poor. It is the same here in the U.S., and will be the same in the future for any country or civilization. It’s the poor family whose children are dying from the toxic fumes of the incinerator, the poor who are drinking water contaminated by the landfill next door, the poor who are forced to find whatever scraps they can and live in the landfill. After I returned, it only took a little convincing by my close friends to let me see how recycling relates to the Christian call to “love your neighbor.”

It’s also fun. We’re amazed at how much stuff can be recycled. It’s almost a game looking for the little recycle symbol (I won the game last night, heheh). I look forward to teaching my children how recycling their stuff is respecting the earth which our God created. We’re showing Him that we think His creation is wonderful, and that we care about it. And, like Dr. Sleeth, I want to involve them in the process…peeling off labels, rinsing out cans, biking together down to the recycle center with a few bags of aluminum cans, etc. Don’t get too excited, mom, we’re not planning just yet. :)

So there are some reasons why recycling is important to us. If everyone would simply recycle, our impact on this gorgeous place would be so much lighter…but it’s not enough. Coming up next are the reasons why we dumpster dive, and one of those reasons will (hopefully) point out why something more than recycling is needed.

February 14, 2008

Why we dumpster dive and recycle, Part 1

First of all, let’s clarify a few things about dumpster diving. For most people, myself included, when they first hear about people voluntarily dumpster diving (that means they can afford to buy new but choose to redeem things that have been tossed), certain words come to mind…disgusting, ridiculous, nasty, dangerous, illegal, stupid, gross, and icky. The last term was Amanda’s contribution. :) I thought maybe I should start this series by answering some common questions about this subject. So, without further ado, here’s my first ever FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). Hope it will give you a better idea of what dumpster diving is like.

  1. What kind of dumpsters do you go to? Any store that doesn’t have a compactor is fair game, but mostly the smaller grocery stores, low price variety stores, etc. Josh and I have been scouting out some other possibilities lately…shoes, clothes, electronics, and more. The main point here is that corporate trash is very different from private and restaurant trash, which we do not pillage. Well, there’s the occasional retrieval from our apartment dumpster…specifically our coffee table.
  2. Is it legal? In some places, like Britain, laws make it clear that trash belongs to the owner of the property until the trash guy picks it up, and then it belongs to the trash guy. There, to take trash is to commit theft (even if they’re just going to throw it away). People still dumpster dive there, of course, but we haven’t had to make that decision yet because it appears to be legal here. See what my newspaper friend found out when researching that here. Josh has actually been stopped by the police before, and after a short discussion with said police was allowed to get back to business.
  3. Isn’t the food contaminated by rats (and rat poop) in the dumpsters? I don’t know who came up with the idea that dumpsters have rats, but they must have sent out a mass e-mail chain, cause everyone asks this. Yet we’ve never once seen a rat, or evidence of any type of rodent, in a dumpster. These dumpsters are large. A rat can’t simply crawl up the side of it, open the door, and dive in. But let’s say one did somehow manage to get in. The next day, natural selection will eliminate this critter by a process called “the trash guy,” and said rat loses all his privileges of further contributing to the gene pool. That’s my take, anyway, but no…there aren’t rats in these dumpsters.
  4. Aren’t dumpsters dirty? And wouldn’t the food in there be dirty too? Yes, and often yes. Which is why we wash our food. Do you eat potatoes, carrots, radishes. Don’t forget that all these come from the most dirty place possible…dirt. And yes, there’s often fertilizer in that dirt (that’s poop, for you city folk). How about corn, broccoli, peppers, apples, pears, strawberries? These and all other vegetables and fruits grow outside (usually) and in the process of their growth have everything from worms to bird crap to dirty, unwashed workers’ hands on them. But don’t fret, these foods are washed thoroughly, or at least we trust that they are. Amanda has a theory that our food is safer, because we know it’s dirty and make sure it’s washed well, whereas food that we buy is assumed to be OK and therefore not washed…and who knows what’s touched that food up unto the point of sale. Another thing to point out, though, is that most of the food we get is either packaged or canned, and hence not “dirtied” in the dumpster.
  5. If the food is still good, why is it thrown away? Good question, self. Here are a few possible reasons:
    • Missing labels. Ah, the joy of creating meals around these “mystery cans.”
    • Expired, or past the “sell by” date. We eat cereal, chips, and some canned foods that have been expired for months. Is there something that magically happens that makes the food good one day and bad the next? We use common sense, and we’ve never once gotten sick from eating dumpstered or expired food. (It’s the same with anything that expires…my dad, a pharmacist, admits that pills are still good for up to years after their expiration date. And in my profession, I can’t honestly say that a 2 week contact lens goes bad on the 15th day…though we, and the grocery stores, still have to recommend using the product for it’s approved time.)
    • Broken jar makes mess. Frequently, we’ll find a dozen jars of salsa or spaghetti sauce that got messy when one of the jars broke. There’s glass and sauce everywhere, but after washing up, you’ve got 11 perfect (even non-expired!) jars of food.
    • A bad spot. If one green pepper in a package of 3 has a bad spot on it, they toss it. Same with tomatoes and even whole sacks of potatoes and apples and oranges and onions. One bad apple may spoil the bunch…but if it just went bad, common sense again will tell you whether its neighbors are good.
    • Dented cans. Stores throw it out if it’s got a dent (this includes milk jugs and orange juice cartons, btw). Yes, it’s true that if a can is dented badly enough to break the seal, it could be contaminated with botulism. Look out for swelling and dents around seals.
    • We have no idea. Sometimes we find things that are in perfect shape, not expired, haven’t been recalled…we have no idea why they’ve tossed them. :) Our best guess is either overstock or maybe the items were sent to the wrong store.
    • Damaged non-food items. With coffee pots and chainsaws and crock pots and glassware and…you get the idea…any slight blemish or crack or broken piece will render the item unsellable. So we’ve found a crock pot with a broken glass lid, coffee pot with a crack on the handle, glassware that’s got a couple broken glasses, and on and on. Non food items are especially fun for me, even if they require a little work to get them back in good shape. I’ve found that stores cut the cords before they throw out electrical appliances. Annoying, but not deterring. :)
  6. If you can afford to buy food, shouldn’t you leave what’s in the dumpsters for the homeless? Thank you, Josh, for suggesting this question for the FAQ. It bothers us greatly that there are folks who go hungry every night, and yet so much edible food is thrown away. However, the areas where we go are not really accessible to those who need it. We specifically don’t go to dumpsters in areas where we see homeless, because we don’t ever want to be in a turf war with someone who really needs it. Only once have I run into someone at the dumpster, and we ended up trading some things each of us had found that night. Also, much of what we find needs to be cooked and prepared, flour or potatoes or canned peas to name some examples, and therefore isn’t really of any use to the homeless person without a kitchen. It’s funny, last time we were hanging out with a few homeless guys, we went dumpster diving and then went home and had a feast…and they were laughing at us the whole time we were diving!
  7. What do you do with the excess? I think it’s always a good idea to leave some, just in case there is someone else coming later that night. For instance, Food Not Bombs (a movement of mostly young folks who dumpster dive, among other ways, to get food for the homeless and then distribute hot meals on Sunday afternoons…or after crises) usually dumpsters Friday and Saturday nights in Nashville, so we make an effort to leave plenty for them on those nights. We also donate large quantity items to local shelters. My favorite is Safe Haven family shelter, where I’ve taken everything from children’s underwear to cases of frosted shredded wheat. We also distribute it to each other. I’ll give my east Nashville friends surplus of some item, and they’ll do the same. We’re not quite as organized as cooperatives like the New York divers, but it’s still nice to share finds with friends.
  8. What is involved in a typical night of dumpster diving? Do you need any special equipment? We usually go after store hours to avoid any unnecessary confrontations with store employees who might be frightened by the human being in their trash. Since it’s after dark, we take a headlamp, and we wear old clothes and dumpster gloves.
  9. Is the actual dumpster diving dangerous? As long as you check the depth of the trash before you swan dive in, and as long as you miss the sides of the dumpster with your head when doing flips, it’s perfectly safe. All joking aside, though, it’s safe. The only thing to really worry about is getting cut or poked while in there, hence the dumpster gloves. I know people often worry about HIV infected needles, and whereas it’s certainly something to watch out for I’ve never once seen a needle in these corporate store dumpsters…they’re not the type of places where youngsters stand around, do drugs, and throw away their needles. I also have started placing an empty box in there to stand in as opposed to just stepping into unknown territory. It could possibly avoid a potential glass cut, and my shoes don’t get food on them.
  10. What are some of the more unique items you’ve found in dumpsters? My favorite so far is the electric chainsaw, but I’ve also enjoyed the battery powered pepper grinder more recently. Batteries, 44 two liter bottles of CitroZip, Josh found 113 cans of peanuts one night, luggage, approximately 2,000 envelopes of all colors (greeting card size), just to name a few! Amanda and I also post our fun and unusual items on our blog, so keep checking back. Also, Ariah put together the Dumpster Diaries where you can find videos and pictures of dumpster diving finds from several people.

Hope you enjoyed my first FAQ ever! I realize the title was misleading since there wasn’t anything in this post about why we do it. Don’t worry, that’s coming up next….so stay tuned!

February 12, 2008

6 Months of Marital Bliss….

Filed under: Married Life — theburts @ 1:31 am

My husband always begs me to blog, and not that I’m opposed to blogging, but it’s just not “my thing.” I enjoy posting pictures and short updates on our lives, but that’s about the extent. I enjoy discussing Daniel’s blogs with him before he writes them, so almost everything he writes is both our viewpoints. So anyways… it’s our 6-month anniversary, so I figured it is fitting to fulfill his wishes and write a blog. :)

First, I cannot believe we’ve been married 6 months. It has flown by. Second… Daniel deserves some adoration here. He is incredibly sweet and caring. Generous. Un-selfish. Calm. Funny. Adorable. I love spending time with him whether we are sitting quietly, running around our tiny apartment like crazed lunatics, or going on one of our many adventures. He brightens my days with a hug, or a funny song or dance. So, to you Daniel, thank you for being so wonderful.

I just have to share what he did for me. As most of you readers know, when he proposed it was an elaborate scavenger hunt at my parents’ house, complete with a buried treasure. Well, we were going over all the engagement things a few weeks ago, and he had me look at the treasure map he had drawn more closely. (After he pointed it out), I noticed there was an “X” near our dock, along with the “X” where I had dug up the original treasure. So, last weekend we visited my parents’ house, and I went searching for this “X”. I finally found it scratched into a board on the dock..looked underneath.. and spotted a message in a bottle. Now, it’s freezing and windy outside, and the only way to get to the bottle is to get in the lake or to remove the board from the dock. Eventually, we got the cordless drill, pried up the board, and retrieved the bottle. Inside was one of our wedding invitations, and a letter from Daniel. The letter contained the original words he tried to memorize for the proposal, along with an incredibly sweet message. I am so lucky. Turns out he had planted the bottle there at the end of the summer, so it’s been there for months. Now, that’s forethought for ya. :) I love you, Daniel.

February 7, 2008

The joys of living simply!

Filed under: reusing — theburts @ 5:15 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

We interrupt this series to give you…a fun and interactive post about the joys of living simply. More specifically, the joys of being unattached to stuff, and the joys of old, out of date products. I’ve never really written a post asking readers to chime in, but this is one. It’ll be fun, I promise.

I had a conversation the other day with the baker at Costco about the freedom of driving a less than perfect automobile. Then my cousin Jennifer said something about old out-of-date ice cream makers. Brain wheels turned, light bulbs flickered, and this thought was created…

The influence of advertising, our keen interest in technology, our consumption driven economy, and our desire to keep up with the Joneses always tells us we need the new. Be it a new car or a new ice cream maker, we begin to believe that having the new thing will make us happier. We know that’s not true, but…have you ever considered the ways in which the exact opposite is true? Marketing covers all the advantages of the new product, but nobody seems to point out the advantages of the old! So what are some of those advantages or benefits of out-of-date stuff? What are the joys in keeping the old?

So this is the part where we brainstorm and everyone posts comments or stories. And, though there are more serious reasons not to buy new things…waste, greed, contentment, overconsumption, consumerism, global poverty, etc…let’s try to keep this strictly about the lighter, more fun side of sticking with old products. Please use humor when necessary, and don’t be afraid to reminisce!! Ok…one…two…three…GO!

February 4, 2008

Just Cause IV and other randomness

This blog, for all you medical personnel, is not about a new intravenous (IV) injection project to take medicine to the needy third world, therefore being termed Just Cause IV.

Now that I have that out of the way, today was a good day. Amanda and I slept a little late, then went to the Chinese church with my mom and dad and their foreign exchange students. After a great lunch, we came back to our apartment and talked and played games for a while. Then we drove / rode bikes to the marina just down the street to view the mighty Cumberland River in all its non glory. It was a great little escapade, though, and sparked some interesting conversation (as well as the title of this blog).

After the fam left, Amanda and I (mostly she this time) cooked some spaghetti, for which we used actual purchased food for everything except the rolls and green peppers! Then we relaxed and learned about deserts from an episode on Planet Earth. A wonderful day of family, good food, fresh air, and no Stupidbowl obsessions in this house!!!

(It’s ok if you want to or did watch the Superbowl, or even if you want to just watch the famous commercials therein. Just please think about both. 2.7 million dollars for every 30 seconds of advertising…do the math. Probably the single most expensive recreational extravaganza today, the Superbowl is an open boil in the history we’re writing when you consider the unspeakable poverty in our world. And just because we laugh and discuss the commercials doesn’t mean they don’t affect us. There’s genius beyond belief in advertising today that knows our subconscious is never turned off, and that we can always be convinced we need _____. Be careful out there, folks!)

So, without further rabbit chasing, back to the title, Just Cause IV!! We all trekked down to the marina and randomly met a neighbor of ours…lives just down the road from the apartments about 5 houses. I met him the other day just driving by. After reading a part in Foster’s book that spoke of getting to know and rely on your neighbors, sharing and receiving, I decided to actually give it a try. Stopped on the way home and introduced myself to this guy and his pal and ended up talking for 20 minutes or so. They told us they owned a boat at the marina, but it had been filed away until we saw them today down at the boat dock. We said hello, and they proceeded to give us the private code to the Rock Harbor Marina gate so that we could go look at all the boats. See, I took the initiative to meet a neighbor, and he’s already said he’d love to take Amanda and me for a ride…forget the community of borrowing the lawn mower and work gloves, let’s take advantage of our neighbors’ ships! :)

We actually got to go inside their boat, a tiny ship compared to many, but still with two bedrooms and a bath downstairs! Just down the way was another boat someone had actually called “Impulsive.” Thanks for your honesty. Next to it was another that we determined later was worth about 500,000 dollars. Can you guess the name? That’s right…Just Cause IV. Someone spent half a million on a boat just because (and it seems as though this was the fourth version!). Again, we appreciate your honesty, but we’re saddened that you couldn’t think of anything better to do with your wealth than buy a big boat. With half a million, how many young girls could be rescued from sex trafficking, or at least cared for while their mothers were servicing their clients? How many AIDS orphans could be comforted? Ironically, how many “just cause” IVs could be sent to hospitals of suffering in nations of war with half a mill? There, three quick ideas of what to do with $500,000, each of them a true just cause.

There’s too much injustice that needs to be made right in our world for us to buy an impressive boat just cause we can.

February 2, 2008

Why we try to live simply, Part 3

Filed under: christianity,Religion and Philosophy — theburts @ 9:04 pm
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Obsession with possessions…another hurdle to clear before being free from materialism and consumerism.

It’s a phrase from that book I’m still reading (I’m a slow reader, I apologize). We see ownership as power and full enjoyment. Think of the countless number of people who go further into debt to buy things that they could just borrow. The obvious examples are the snowboards used once every 3 years, the Sea-doo stored in a garage for 11 months out of the year, or the beach house they visit to wipe off the dust every couple of years. Foster said “let’s learn to enjoy the beauty of the beach without the compulsion to buy a piece of it.”

Please also remember the other principles I’ve given throughout this series. Just because one isn’t going into debt to purchase these “toys,” just because we can afford them, doesn’t mean this principle doesn’t apply. Simplicity goes beyond freedom from debt, although adapting a simpler lifestyle would certainly alleviate debt for thousands. The Christian call is to think of others, and we simply must consider the poor when we’re considering that new toy. Will owning it really make us happier than borrowing a similar used one for the weekend and using that money for good? I think, if we actually prayed about these things, most purchases would seem silly or ridiculous. But, dear God, our fun would be ruined if we brought you into our joyful and impulsive expenditures!

Along those lines, and still on the topic of simplicity, why not ask God to provide us with the things that we need? Foster suggests a week of thought and prayer before determining that we need an item, and during that week waiting to see if he’ll provide it for us. Though I’ve been able to avoid many big ticket items, I could definitely use some work on this one. The pair of work gloves, the Skil saw, the new equipment for camping, or even optometry equipment for medical missions…what if I waited a week or two and prayed to God about those things that I determined were a true need? I might contact a friend who has what I need, and can avoid buying a new one for a one use project. He suggests it’s exciting to see how God provides (ask Amy Pratt, it happened to her this week). I almost bought an expensive autorefractor for my Haiti trips once a year, but a quick phone call secured a borrowed one. Of course there are some needs that go beyond a short project, and for those, borrowing might not be the best option. But buy used if you can, let your neighbor borrow your gorgeous lawn mower, avoid malls with your life, and for the love of God, STOP SHOPPING. (heheh, sorry, pulled a little Reverend Billy there)

What a wonderful thing to rely on God, and your community, for things that you need. I remember, when we lived in community in north Nashville, how awesome it was how different people contributed in different ways. Not just with items they owned, but with talents they had. I affixed a rod in Mindy and Ariah’s closet to hang clothes, Bryan cooked, Avery and Roman entertained, Ariah put together the composter, Dawn and Mindy let me borrow jewelry with which to propose to Amanda (well, not the actual ring…long story), Josh fixed the internet, Chris would babysit, and on and on.

Ah, to be able to step out of the world of ownership and isolation and enjoy the freedom of simplicity.

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