I walked into the classroom, holding a trash bag. Without warning, I emptied it onto the floor and asked the class, “What’s this?”
I can't claim any originality in the idea I'm presenting in this article. When I was growing up, I enjoyed reading a regular column called Hints from Heloise. When I was in junior high school, my Citizenship teacher, George Reeves, taught us that we should not limit uses for things to their originally designed purpose. From 1964-67, I had the example of the Professor (my favorite character) in the television series Gilligan's Island, in which the professor ingeniously made necessary items from whatever was at hand, but he couldn't fix a three-foot hole in a boat. For two decades or so, I was a regular reader of the magazine Mother Earth News, which now describes itself as "the original guide to living wisely." From 1985-92, I thrilled to watch MacGyver each week, in which the title character solved complex problems with everyday items such as chocolate bars, gum wrappers, duck tape (now often called duct tape), and—yes—paper clips. Now that I'm a Boy Scout leader, I try to give my charges new insights into the Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared."
I have several uses for zip lock bags that had once held items from the grocery store. When I pedal along the biking trail, I bring one along to protect my camera in case of rains. Otherwise, it holds a few sheets of toilet paper. On other occasions, a smaller zip lock bag holds tea bags.
When I go somewhere overnight, an old 35 mm film canister that hasn't held film in several years is a suitable container for a teaspoon of coffee and dehydrated milk. A 1.5-ounce, screw-top bottle is a serviceable container for the honey I use to sweeten my coffee.
(In part 1 of this series, "How to Raise Living Standards by Lowering the GDP," I describe how the GDP is an unreliable measure of prosperity. In part 2 of this series, “The Emperor’s New Logo,” I describe the folly of buying things that don’t exist except in the minds of gullible, emotionally stunted buyers. Part 4 is the tour de force of this series. By learning how advertisers narrow our decisions to Hobson’s choices, we can break the matrix. Part 4 is titled, “How to Raise Our Living Standards, Spend Less Money, Enjoy Better Health, and Improve Environmental Protection All at the Same Time.”)