In: Sending positive Spout Offs
Spout Off, the notorious section of the Herald where anybody can send anonymous messages to appear in print, skews negative. So does Facebook, NextDoor, Twitter, you name it. Inflammatory posts on these forums tend to get a lot more engagement than expressions of kindness, Spout Off included. That’s how the beast is fed. But unlike Facebook, we don’t make more money from Spout Off when negativity flows free. I’ll put it this way: every time someone sends a kind staff about the Herald, it is shared with our staff. Keep flattering us, but also flatter your neighbor, and say a good thing about landscaping in your town!
In: Taking a class at Cape Tech
Cape Tech feels like a miracle to me. Did you know you can take an eight-week automotive repair course, three hours each session, for under $200? An 8-session dog obedience course led by an expert, for just $30? A 6-week digital photography crash course for $45? That’s crazy – take advantage of it. Youtube videos are great for learning new skills, but nothing beats face-to-face guidance from a local instructor.
In: Shopping Local
Shopping at Wal-Mart or Amazon is like playing the prisoner’s game. We all know, to some extent, that these places really harm local businesses, and that the money spent at mega corporations doesn’t circulate locally. But I find myself betraying what I know is right because I can save a few bucks. To myself: cut it out! Cape May County has lots of great locally-owned places to shop. Get your cat food from Smeltzer’s or The Wagging Tail. Go to ShopRite instead of the Wal-Mart grocery aisle. Go to a local hardware store for that pesky tri-wing screwdriver. Every little bit helps!
Out: Fast fashion
Emily told me once that if she said no! to ten Target crop-tops, she could have bought the nice, union labor, American-made one sold at Givens in Cape May. My grandmother told me to imagine the life cycle of every product that enters my house. Can I imagine owning a crappy t-shirt, anime hi-tops, whatever, in a year? A decade from now?
Fast fashion, brands like Shien, H&M, Primark, and Forever 21, in addition to fraying within a month, are made with some of the worst labor conditions in the industry and contribute to America’s staggering clothing waste problem. I try to “buy it for life” when I can, and often, that brings me to the thrift store. Hard as it was to say NO! to the Amy Rose the Hedgehog black t-shirt from Hypland, I know that it fuels the ‘churn and burn’ ethos won’t make me any happier, anyway.
Out: A Wawa cup in the wind
Public trash cans hardly exist in Japan. There’s a cultural understanding that the trash a person creates is their responsibility, which means putting it in a backpack, or small bag, or finding a place to throw it away. Umm, we’re pretty far from that – I see trash, garbage, refuse, every time I visit the Villas beach near my home. Remember that most plastic can not be recycled, that plastic will linger long on the Earth, and that the very least you can do is to put it in the trash. That’s facts!
Out: Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling
I’m not yet the old man yelling at a cloud, but my stomach sank low when I saw that my daily phone times averages to 5 hours a day. Where did the time go? I try to catch myself: when I’m scrolling reddit, or Instagram, or whatever the heck, I ask myself: if I could choose to do anything right now, if I had thought about it before picking up the phone, would I choose to do something else? And that thought usually gets my rear off the couch and into a good book, a video game I’ve been meaning to finish, or to my desk to write a letter to my dear sister.