I have a black nylon backpack I bought in 1994. I carry it every day. It has traveled with me from Paris, to Puerto Vallarta. At one time, it had a security sticker from the London Underground Authority, but it wore off a year or two ago. My wife had taped and sewn a tear on the bottom seam, but recently, both zippers stopped zipping. I was in a store the other day, and there was a bright, new, shiny, all-black backpack on sale for only $14.99! I was intrigued, but I didn’t buy it.

I went home, got a needle and thread (after my wife told me three times where they were), and fixed the zippers. Good as new! Granted, there is some sentimentality involved, and I have anthropomorphized my backpack, but I have not named it…yet. I didn’t really need a new backpack, which made me wonder — what else don’t I need? My wife, Cathi, and I live modestly. We are frugal, but it is not about making do. It’s about appreciating what we have and what is important to us, like family, travel, my band (Under the Radar) , and my wife’s stage-two Yenko Corvair (at the 3:50 mark), as well as our commitment to help others.

Buying A New Backpack Would Be Fun!

We are a nation of consumers; I’ve heard it said our true religion is consumerism. Feel down, had a bad day? Well shoot, just go buy something! You will feel so… much… better, until you need to buy some more. If we consider what we don’t need, we can concentrate our resources on what we do need. We can think about what fulfills us, which in turn, gives us meaning. Let me ask, what don’t you need? Oh, and BTW, if we dispose of less, it might help save spaceship Earth as a consequence.

If I Disposed Of The Backpack, How Long Would It Last As Trash?

According to an Education World lesson plan, quite a long time.

• Banana — 3 to 4 weeks
• Paper bag — 1 month
• Cotton rag — 5 months
• Wool sock — 1 year
• Cigarette butt — 2 to 5 years
• Leather boot — 40 to 50 years
• Rubber sole (of the boot) — 50 to 80 years
• Tin can (soup or vegetable can) — 80 to 100 years
• Aluminum can (soda pop can) — 200 to 500 years
• Plastic 6-pack rings — 450 years
• Plastic jug — 1 million years
• Styrofoam cup — unknown? Forever?
• Glass bottle — unknown? Forever?

What can less trash mean for the planet?

100 million tons of flotsam in the North Pacific
135 million tons of fresh trash and garbage a year in U.S. landfills.
300,000 miles of rivers and streams, as well as 5,000,000 acres of lakes, are polluted in the United States.

There are thousands of examples of what our excesses do to the environment, but I think the point has been made. What do you need and what don’t you need? Please share with us what you are keeping, and what you must replace. What is important to you?