Colleges have discovered that removing trays from school cafeterias cuts down on wasting food and water. If you can only carry what will fit in two hands, you’re not likely to take more than your proper share nor to indulge in tasting a little bit of many meals instead of selecting just one. Reducing the size of the plate would further prove what restaurants with buffets already know - people eat less when there’s a smaller area for food to cover. It occurs to me that using the same principle, we can find many other applications to consider during our current economic depression/recession/downturn/crisis.
Eliminating wallets would mean that we would only carry the money we need to get through each day. Without an organizing container, most people wouldn’t take all their credit and charge cards and that bulky extra cash that facilitates impulse buying, eventual debt and overeating and drinking due to stress. Converting walk-in closets to children’s rooms would allow people to move to smaller apartments while effectively trimming their outdated clothes and accessories from their daily wardrobes. It would also trim excessive toys and stimulate second thoughts in serial breeders and future octomoms. Off season clothing could be packed in suitcases and pushed under the bed; seasonal clothes would be hung on curtain rods to do colorful double duty as drapes, except for New Yorkers whose window treatments would remain stylishly black. For Manhattan singles who are short, kitchens might be converted into bedrooms, keeping only a mini-bar for de rigeur bottled water and alcohol and cutting down on rent and anachronisms simultaneously.
On the macro level, forcing colleges within the same city to stop duplicating facilities and to pool their resources would do much to tailor their budgets and allow them to spend their money merely excessively instead of redundantly. Does every school need to stock the same offerings in their libraries? With a Metro card, any student can travel a few miles to get to the regional location of his area of interest; better yet, she can walk those few miles and eliminate the need for expensive gym equipment and climbing walls.
Shared office space for people who don’t occupy their offices on a 9-5 daily basis should be mandatory for all politicians, particularly congressmen and senators who dutifully frequent warm weather countries to learn how they’ve stabilized their favorable climates, kept their beaches from eroding and controlled for bartender burnout. Since there’s little indication that more perks guarantee a better breed of politician, we might try the opposite approach and see if fewer perks attract people who are actually interested in the service part of the public servant nomenclature.
In our civic temples of culture for minors - children’s museums, zoos, aquaria, planetaria - there should be a reduction in the current formula of gift shops per square foot to a solitary one to be located near the exit. Shopping bags should be prohibited and, to balance the security checks at the entrance, no child should be allowed to leave the premises with more than one purchase that he/she can hold in his/her hand, leaving the other hand free for the garbage that children normally hand to their keepers.
Of all the containers mentioned so far - wallets, closets, shopping bags, offices, apartments - the ultimate one is the thinnest and smallest - the credit card itself. Compared with talismanic artifacts of the past like the sphinx or the blarney stone, this magical symbol is actually dangerous when rubbed and encourages people to indulge their unrealistic wants instead of their rational needs. While colleges set the right example by eliminating cafeteria trays, they need to start promoting the same message of limiting waste by limiting credit card expenditures. Though economists may warn that this will be disastrous for our consumer based economy, our common sense will tell us that it is long overdue and will be a wholesome and restorative antidote to our national consumer psyche.
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