ROOM FOR A PONY

Exploring what life could be like if we weren't buried in clutter, burdened with too many possessions, and surrounded by chaos.

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The seamy underbelly of Halloween decor

October 12th, 2013 · No Comments · Consumer Issues, Decoration Industry, Disposability, Excess of Possessions, Manufacturing

In the summer of 1975 I got a job in a factory that made cardboard Halloween skeletons. My job was to rivet the legs and arms onto the skeletal torso. As the parts came down a conveyor belt, I would grab them furtively and rivet. Then an arm and then a leg and then an arm and then a leg and then an arm and then a leg and then an arm and then a leg. For eight hours. Standing the whole time. Plus the speed of the belt was faster than the speed of my body. (I’ve only ever had one speed, and this is it.) My own arms and legs were in danger of falling off.

The skeletons were cute, but they weren’t eight-hours-a-day cute. By about the third hour of my third day, I felt that the cardboard Halloween skeleton was a stupid product, and I felt foolish devoting such a large chunk of my life to its proliferation. (At least it made me realize that I needed to expand my skill set, which led me to renew my education vows.)

Fast forward to 2013. The seasonal decoration industry has swollen into a gush of …. what shall I call them? … stupid products. I mean, do we really need to install eighty five polystyrene tombstones and three dozen plastic goblins on the lawn? and line the walkway with a hundred and six illuminating plastic skulls?

Besides, what are you going to do, rent a warehouse to keep it all in till next Halloween? because if I find out you’re throwing them in the trash on November first, I’m calling the popo. Remember, this is Portland, and they will probably come. I’m pretty sure that’s a crime here.

I’m conflicted because I love a festive atmosphere. I am not the party-poop I may seem. Au contraire, I maintain a secret stash of foil confetti that I throw over the heads of dinner guests at every celebratory opportunity. (Later, when the people are gone, I’m groping around like an idiot, collecting every last one of them.)

I’m not sure what the answer is, but can’t we at least be reasonable? Could we maybe make do with three styrofoam tombstones and a rubber witch? What did we use for decorating before they started manufacturing all this crap? Just because it’s being sold doesn’t mean we have to buy it all up indiscriminately.

At least those cardboard skeletons were 100% recyclable.

An example of the decoration bulimia that is sweeping the nation. Each tombstone or other decoration you see here is made out of some completely unrecyclable plasticky material destined for the landfill.

An example of the decoration bulimia that is sweeping the nation. Each tombstone or other decoration you see here is made out of some completely unrecyclable plasticky material destined for the landfill.

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