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Navigating a World of Plenty

How to manage too much 

     You need more than one T to explain the Homo sapiens distinction. We make not only Tools but also Toys, Trinkets and Technology.
     Animals make tools and maybe toys. As crows and their raven cousins seem to enjoy some leisure time, I wouldn’t doubt that they make entertaining toys as well as useful tools. But piling invention on invention sky high is not a habit that even the smartest birds and apes seem to have acquired. 
     We humans make all our Ts in abundance to rival the leaves in the forest, the grains of sand on the beach and the stars in the sky.
Americans have no monopoly on resourcefulness. But it is a habit we’ve perfected. The vastness of the resources this barely inhabited continent (by the standards of its European conquerors) offered on land and water gave us so much raw material.
     On the Chesapeake, Captain John Smith noted fish so abundant you could catch them by the skilletfull and oysters in such apparent infinity that their reefs wrecked ships. Plenty on that scale stretched from sea to shining sea. 
      All that was irresistible to our ancestors, coming as so many of them did from historically crowded lands where resources and their consequent wealth were already owned, and not by them. Or where desire for more sparked daunting daring. The sense of entitlement this rich new world bred in them remains our inheritance.
      There are still more reasons we Americans are so good at making the Things we call Tools but also Toys, Trinkets and Technology. One of those reasons is our diversity. From all over the world, we’ve brought our cultures with us to America. The artifacts of all our combined cultures combine to overflow the great American stew pot.
      All of which means, at the macro level, that we’re a material culture. And that at the micro level that you and I have a lot of stuff. 
      Which in turn brings us into our May 16 edition of Bay Weekly. 
      What to do with stuff is a favorite Bay Weekly subject. Often, the subject is recycling, as in how to reduce our waste. Susan typically brings her lunch in made-for-the job reusable containers, tools and technologies that include vacuum bottles and glass cups for the homemade yogurt she now eats. Alex and Betsy often pack their lunches in reusable Pyrex. When we wind up with carryout plastic, we repackage new lunches in it. Not No. 1, of course, because PETE, polyethylene terephthalate, leaches out its chemical constituents. Yes, we even have quizzes on our resin codes.
      What to do with other kinds of stuff is a favorite lunchtime conversation topic. We have way too much stuff all of us admit. Even Audrey, our youngest, is weighted down with family inheritance on top of her own acquisitions. 
     Tossing that question around, we realized that many of our Bay Weekly partners are people who’ve cleverly created small businesses devoted to passing used stuff from one owner to another.
     That’s the genesis of this week’s feature stories, Krista Pfunder Boughey’s Out with the Old and Beth Dumesco’s Cutting Out Clutter. Krista has interviewed our practical partners to learn how their skills (and businesses) can help us. 
      Beth introduces us to the KonMari method to better manage what you choose to keep. (My next project is wrapping my many winter shawls and scarfs into neat tubes for seasonal storage.)
     I hope you find this story pairing as helpful and inspiring as I have. And relieving, as well, for that’s the best word I can use to describe the news that there are outlets for just about anything. But go cautiously into these businesses, or you’re likely to buy and bring home as much as you sell.
      After all that planful reading, let alone action, we deserve a reward. I found mine in 8 Days a Week. It’s the Muddy Creek Artists’ 10th Anniversary Show in Edgewater. Sunday I’ll be making a field trip to Chaptico in St. Mary’s County for the Strawberry Festival & Bazaar (1:30-5pm, Christ Church).
      Once again this week, I hope you, too, will use Bay Weekly to organize your life and to take you where the action is.