The other day, we needed a paper clip for a packet of school forms. We searched through the jam-packed kitchen drawer that serves as our all-purpose storage area for anything we can cram in there, to no avail. We found a lot of things – the dogs’ vaccination tags, AAA batteries, a compass, a light stick, a headless toy deer, to-go menus for restaurants that we never eat at – but not a single paper clip.
“Hey!” shouted Ava, “We just need to go to the parking lot and look for one!”
And sure enough, when we stopped by the large grocery parking lot later that day, we found a metal paper clip. Not just any paper clip; this one was more than fully functional, it even had some decorative etching – A fancy paper clip.
And I realized that, in my kids’ minds, the first stop for any necessary or desired item is not a store. We grow a lot of our produce and have our hens for eggs, and we get almost everything else through the barter potlucks or the generosity of friends. We forage in local woods and marshes for mushrooms and nettles and other wild greens. The girls’ favorite toys at the moment are the ones they rescued from the Rotary Auction dumpster. And now we get our office supplies from local parking lots.
It’s a bad news/good news sort of thing:
(BAD) We’ve reached this point where there is so much durable waste in our environment, not just corralled in landfills or recycling centers, that (GOOD) you can find almost everything you need, if you only look. Our earth now supplies not just food and shelter, but modern office supplies and more.
My kids will be the first to tell you that shopping this way is a lot more fun than any trip to the store – It’s a free treasure hunt, complete with the rush of adrenaline that comes with the thrill of discovery. Onward, parking lot foragers and dumpster divers!