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Reducing waste: New sunglasses.

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Our culture is one of consumption. We purchase, use and dispose without looking for a different way to engage with the material goods in our lives. Convenience is king, and the many inexpensive options in big box stores make it so.

It takes discipline to begin down the road of lessening waste, and that discipline is tested in almost every purchasing decision. In my own family of three, if we forget the reusable grocery bags at home, do we put off the grocery store trip until tomorrow when it’s on our mind, and the store is in front of us, right now? Will we take home only one of an item if that second one, that we don’t really need, is half-off?

I was tested recently when I went into my local eye doctor to order a pair of prescription sunglasses. My non-prescription eyewear wouldn’t fit over my glasses, and the sun was getting too bright for my sensitive eyes to tolerate. I had taken to going everywhere – including in the car – with a large sunhat on, but even that was no longer cutting it.

I knew the lens to correct my very near-sighted vision would be quite expensive, so I was thrilled to hear that the frames were currently at a deep discount with a specialty lens purchase. The price still added up to a significant cost, but I was expecting it. I tried on frames, one after the other, all the while comparing them to the sunglasses that I already owned – a vintage pair, purchased at a consignment shop.

I asked about putting new lenses in my existing frames. I was told that a template would have to be made at the lens manufacturer, increasing both the cost and time of production. In all, I would save about 10% by dumping my old frames for new ones.

At that moment, I considered an article on Zero Waste Homethat I had come across recently. Though I don’t achieve quite that extreme, the article’s point, that the “cost” of waste should be factored into the price of replacing something for less than it costs to fix it, had been resurfacing for a few days in my thoughts.

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