This post first appeared in September 2012. Since I am in the thick of plowing through the Lost and Found and checking the cleanliness of all the uniforms from the uniform exchange closet, it seemed like a good time to reprint it.
At the end of every school year, I volunteer to take home all the lost and found from my daughters’ school. I look through it, sort it, wash it, fold it, and give it to charity. The amount of lost and found (or as the Head of School calls it, “Lost and Sometimes Found”) is absolutely amazing. At the end of this school year, I had 20 expensive metal water bottles (one still had a clear $25 price tag on it), a dozen lunch bags in good condition, probably 50 items of clothing worthy of the thrift store, and 5 or 6 coats, including one very nice Columbia brand coat.
Colleen once wrote a post, which I cannot locate, about “What if I had just one?” Just one pencil, just one coat, just one pair of scissors, just one water bottle and one lunch sack?
Overbuying has to be part of the explanation for this phenomena. In my house, the girls have two water bottles each – one large and one small, and they each have one lunch bag. If the bag doesn’t come home, they take their lunch in a plastic sack, which in itself is a reminder to check the lost and found. But if you overbuy, then each item has less value and less chance of staying with its owner.
When my daughters first starting attending school where they had to provide their own supplies, I was absolutely horrified by the list: 2 boxes of 8 markers, 6 glue sticks, 4 packs of post-it notes, and my winner for most ridiculous: 48 pencils. 48 pencils times 15 girls equals 720 pencils per school year per classroom! How many third-world classrooms could be outfitted with 720 pencils? I thought it was because the girls went to private school, but my public school friends told me that their lists were similarly excessive.
Why would you value a single pencil when there are 719 more in your classroom?
It’s so easy to overbuy when things are “2 for 1″ or “Buy 1, get 1 at half price”? I know I used to do it too. But it’s just not necessary. It’s bad for the environment, bad for your check book, and devalues each and every item, making each one more likely to be lost, discarded, or shoved to the back of the cabinet.
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter something in an area that is overcrowded to the point of causing disfunction.
Eco Tip For The Day
As adults it is our job to teach our children to conserve power and water. If you raise your children with good habits now conservation will come naturally to them when they become the adults themselves.
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow