The Portable Curmudgeon,* Pt. 1

“Waste Not”

Living out of a suitcase can influence one’s sensibilities. Having to close other’s suitcases because squishing stuff requires a certain finesse and strength, further influences those sensibilities. Then, having to pay more for overweight luggage on airlines, well, those sensibilities are getting incensed.

Yes, this is another rant about stuff. And when your family of four is down to four suitcases and four backpacks it’s just about details and sweating the small stuff – losing an extra pair of socks, consolidating pill bottles, donating t-shirts and novels to the hosts, shaving weight like wrestlers, race car drivers, or astronauts (and no adverbs!). Cleaning a suitcase can be harder than cleaning a house, which brings me to the topic of soap.

When did bars of soap, which mercifully used to shrink on their own, become bottles of shower gel that stay cumbersome? While the shampoo & conditioner combo was a step in the right direction, liquid soap is not. While shower gel that combines soap and shampoo is a step in the right direction, the bottles take up space and adds weight.

OK, not much and yes, I’m being a persnickety fussbudget, so perhaps I (or you) will be the entrepreneur who develops the soap-shampoo-conditioner bar that drys in one minute and requires no packaging for the space/weight conscious traveler. Or, perhaps the new Paris protocols might mandate such a measure for environmental reasons? Nudge!

Beside paper in various forms, plastic packaging must constitute the majority of waste world-wide? So here’s where I translate a bottle of shower gel into the mountains of plastic that have eroded across parts of Europe, Morocco, India, and many other countries, not to mention various oceanic garbage patches. Bottles and bags, bags of bottles** = extinction by plastic? Anyway, the cataclysmic nightmare of garbage (& nurdles) is pretty well known. Reminds me of when I used to have students carry around all their waste for a 24 hour period, then do an inventory of it. A suitcase of rubbish, or just bottles of shower gel? When we see the light, too, we can feel the light weight.

*Title stolen from an anthology of the same name.

**Paraphrasing Eric Bogosian

Study Questions:

  1. What is the largest man-made thing on earth? Why/how/where?
  2. Nurdles? Garbage gyres? Trash stats globally?
  3. Inventions to reduce waste?

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