Week 2: Everything Breaks At Once - But Do We Need It?

As if right on cue, our toaster broke this week creating a slew of dilemmas for our family.

If you caught A Year of Living Simply  Week 1: Beyond Buying Our Journey Begins you know our family has vowed to avoid purchasing anything new this year.

Buying a cheap replacement toaster manufactured in a third world country from our nearest big box retailer is simply out of the question, given our goal.  So what are we to do?

After much debate (and a long divergent discussion about adopting the Paleo Diet which eliminates bread altogether, thus making the need for a toaster moot) we were left with these options:

* Buy a used toaster at a thrift store and risk electrocution if it is broken. (Did you know toasters kill 600 to 700 people a year and that more people meet their maker at the hands of a toaster than the jaws of a shark?)  

* Try to find a free working toaster from someone we know. (We put the word out for one and did receive a reply - but they offered a toaster oven with a hinky on/off switch. Because of its condition and the fire hazard it might pose when used by the distracted cooks at our house, we declined.)

* Search for a toaster at an estate sale (where its owner is more likely to have died before it did).

* Make toast in the oven (which seems a waste of power and a recipe for burnt toast).

* Cave-in and try to find a brand new  "made in the U.S.A." toaster on-line.

* Simply do without a toaster until one somehow comes into our lives.

We decided to make do without a toaster for now and be on the lookout for one should we run across it at an estate sale.

On a positive note, those family members who intimated they would "die" without a toaster, remain among the living and for now none of us have to worry about our toast falling buttered side down onto the floor, as a British researcher has determined happens 81 percent of the time. 

In other news this week - the wiggly front seat in our 15 year-old car - devolved into a rocking recliner chair a few days ago.

My husband  did some on-line research and discovered Pick n Pull (a fabulous self-serve auto parts graveyard which has 61 locations in the U.S. and Canada) . The one nearest to us had a couple vehicles the same make and model as ours on its lot.  Unfortunately the cars from which my husband hoped to harvest seats smelled a little moldy to him. Since I am very sensitive to mold and would be bothered by seats that had any hint of it on them I was glad he came home empty handed. He will keep checking back as more cars that match ours arrive there to find a usable seat.

Meanwhile, he did purchase a "forbidden" new 13 mm socket to remove our seat from our car instead of asking friends if they had such a socket or looking for one used.  Since he went out of his way to look for a used seat I'm going to give him a pass on the $4 socket purchase.

He had a more successful shopping trip at a large thrift store in our area called Savers - finding work clothes he needed. He bought 3 shirts, 3 pairs of slacks and 3 pull-over sweaters all for $5 each.  (The key to getting him to even look there was that they arrange their clothing by size, unlike many thrift stores which sort by color or style instead.)  

Meanwhile, I spent some time this week compiling a list thrift stores, flea markets and other sources of used goods near us so we will have it at our finger tips when we find we truly need something. I have also established a list on the refrigerator for family members to post "needed" items for all to see and critique. If it looks like a "want" and not a "need" it will be open for family debate. 

Reader reaction to last week's blog was positive. Many of you told me you were already taking steps to reduce your own consumption or were inspired to join our family and do the same now.

Some of you suggested we plant a garden and others talked about how de-cluttering and completing an inventory of what we already own is essential to our mission. Others recommended we focus on precycling to reduce the amount of packaging coming into our home. All are good suggestions and we have a year ahead of us to try out many of your ideas.

A few of you have asked me to provide a list of resources we've found especially helpful.  In future blog posts I'll share titles of some of the many books we've read over the years that have fueled our interest in more simple living as well as other similar blogs and web sites which address the subject.

But first I want to recommend you consider watching three film documentaries (available on D.V.D. or on-line) which have helped inform our decision to be more thoughtful consumers.

Inequality for All

Escape from Affluenza 

The Economics of Happiness

I will be writing about our family's path to a less consumptive lifestyle every week or so in A Year of Living Simply on Patch and invite you to share your own experiences in the comments section below.

Photo credit - Toaster photo by Donovan Govan via Wikimedia Commons

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