• 48°

Trying to be a good consumer not always satisfactory

By MIMI BECKER

Waste not, want not.  So true, in so many ways.

I have been known to use multiple strategies to extract every last bit of shampoo and cream rinse from bottles; squeeze the last, tiniest dab of toothpaste out of the tube; keep odd bits of fabric for some future project; scrape one last spoonful of soup into a very small storage container after dinner. I try, I really do, to be a responsible and caring consumer.  

But, I fail. I often just finally give up. Sometimes the breaking point comes over something quite minor. Other times the issue is more consequential.  

Just recently, while engaged in my very least favorite household chore, cleaning the bathroom, I faced just such a moment. 

The soap bar on the sink had been used away to a sliver. It was still there, but adhered to the bottom of the soap dish. When cleaning the bathroom, I feel compelled to clean all the dishes. I pried the soap sliver off the dish and set it on the sink rim while I scrubbed away the remnants of soap on the dish.

When the dish was satisfactorily scrubbed, I replaced the soap sliver on it and set the whole thing to the side to scrub the sink. The bathroom cleaning was completed and all surfaces were sparkly and sanitary. Fresh towels hung by the sink and tub. Soap, shampoo, cream rinse were all in their appropriate places.  

Fast forward several hours. When needed for hand washing, the soap sliver was now adhered to the soap dish. The predictable reaction between the wet surface of a clean soap dish and a sliver of soap had been at work. If it was to be further usable, the sliver of soap would need to be pried from the bottom of the dish with either a crow bar or fingernails.

The salvaged bits of soap may or may not have sufficed under CDC guidelines as an adequate amount of cleanser to ward off whatever invisible enemy there might be lurking on the user’s hands. 

And, the empty soap dish looked untidy. I should have seen it coming; I do this all of the time – thinking I am thrifty trying to get one last bit of use out of something.

Maybe if I had changed out the soap bar before it reached the point of scraping, I could have saved it and combined it with any number of other soap scraps to make one of those scrap soap bar wads you see on the crafty websites…

That won’t work for me as I will not remember where I stored any previously salvaged soap bar slivers and then I will have other issues not pertinent to this moment. I am going to resolve to give up on future soap bars in a more practical manner in the future. The discarded, wasted soap bar bits won’t adversely affect the environment to my knowledge.  

But, that old stove will. I cringe to think of my weakness in this particular incident.

When we purchased our current home, it included a kitchen stove. This was a good thing as we had to sell the previous home with its stove. It was a condition of the sale. 

All in all, the stove in the new home was fine. It worked, it was quite large, and it fit the space allotted to it in the built in cabinet configuration. In fact, the cabinets were custom built to accommodate the oversized stove.

Did I mention the stove was fairly old? It was also painted harvest gold to match the kitchen color scheme, which was, well, a very dated orange and harvest gold.

I really did not like that stove. The color coordinated paint was not correctly applied. The result was beginning to show. Through the normal usage of pots banging and spoons dropping, the surface was chipping and flaking. Bit by bit, small mechanical things began to go wrong with the stove. A burner here and a burner there would go out. The temperature gauge went haywire and 350 degrees was not that.

For each incident, a repairman was called. I warned my husband that if the repairs were going to be costly and/or deemed temporary fixes for the problem thus resulting in wasteful repairs and parts, we should give it up.  

Time after time, the repairman tinkered around a bit while I casually observed the process.  “Really, if it is a lost cause, just give me the facts.” In no time at all, each time, magic was worked and for about $25 we were up and running. That old stove was resilient and worth saving according to the repairman.

But, it was so ugly. 

The issue soon was out of my hands. The kitchen had to be rewired and the old custom cabinets were in really bad shape, among other issues. The cabinets found a new home in the basement work area and in a neighbor’s work shed. But, the stove was carted off to the dump.  

I feel really bad about that. It’s a whole lot worse than soap slivers.