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Mad Hatter’s Almost Eco-Friendly Tea Party April 17, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Mindfulness, Sustainable Living.
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We hosted a Mad Hatter Tea Party for our street last night.  Everyone had fun, but I feel terrible this morning.

No, it’s not a hang-over ~ at least not one caused by alcohol.  I’m suffering from a case of hypocritical angst.

We chose the Mad Tea Party theme to lessen the party’s impact on Planet Earth ~ appropriate since the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day is just 5 days away.

Instead of rushing out to buy matching tablecloths, napkins, cutlery, paper plates and cups for the event, we used supplies already on hand ~ leftovers from previous parties:

* purple, green, pink, blue, and yellow tablecloths with smaller black and white checked tablecloths placed diagonally in the center of each table

* large red paper heart doilies from Valentine’s Day topped with St. Patrick’s Day centerpieces in shades of Emerald Green on half the tables, and Red, White and Blue centerpieces from the 4th of July on the others

* Mardi Gras beads in brilliant greens and golds tossed down the center of each table added eco-friendly sparkle

* mismatched cutlery paired with mismatched plates and mismatched napkins completed the festive decor of hand-me-down party supplies

The place looked slightly askew ~ exactly as a Mad Tea Party should look.

To get attendees into the spirit of the evening, we prepared name tags for each of the 6 tables with selected characters from Wonderland for guests to portray ~ Mad Hatter, March Hare, Alice, Dormouse, The Queen, Flamingo/Croquet Mallets, King and Jack.

Wanting to play an Earth Friendly Game before dinner, with each of 6 tables competing for prizes, I created 6 Mad Hatter Tea Party worksheets ~ using just two sheets of paper, cut into 3 strips each.

The worksheets had a sketch of the Mad Hatter at the top, followed by a series of blank lines underneath the words:  MAD HATTER TEA PARTY.

Teams had 15 minutes to come up with as many words using those letters as possible.  Like Boggle, the longer the word, the greater the points:

* 3, 4, and 5 letter words = 1 point
* 6 letter words = 2 points
* 7 letter words = 3 points
* 8 letter words, and higher = 5 points

Two teams excelled at the challenge, with scores of 83 and 78.  Everyone seated at those tables received a free 50/50 ticket for the drawing to be held later in the evening.  The other four tables made respectable showings as well and “tied” for third place.

After the game, guests enjoyed bountiful food from the potluck buffet, followed by a few announcements and drawing of a 50/50 winner ~ who walked away with $51.  The remaining $51 stayed in the “kitty” for future parties and social events on the street.

So far, so good, right?

Certainly no reason for me to be filled with hypocritical angst this morning.

Until . . . clean up arrived.

If I had handled clean up myself, I would have gathered the plastic cutlery and run it through the dishwasher.  I would have carefully wiped off the plastic tablecloths, and allowed them to air dry, before folding them up for eventual re-use.

But in the chaos and commotion, with 48 people wanting to help clean up, with people waiting for tables to be cleared so they could be knocked down and carried back to storage, with centerpieces and Mardi Gras beads to collect, which chairs to fold and put away, with people looking to me for guidance, I said:

“Sure.  Go ahead and toss the tablecloths and doilies ~ they’ve been used a few times already.”

As a result of that brief but less-than-earth-friendly utterance, my cheeks this morning are as red as the discarded heart-shaped paper doilies.

I hate this feeling . . . I hate suffering from hypocritical angst!

Unlike curing a hang-over, popping two aspirin is not going to make me feel better.  Only time (and future eco-friendly actions) will ease this angst.

Happy Earth Day 2010! 

Related posts:  Gradual Change * Annie Leonard & The Story of Stuff

 

Comments»

1. Chad - April 17, 2010

It might help ease your pain to think of the jobs and economic activity that waste creates. If everyone recycled, reduced, reused, the worldwide economic pain would increase even more. It is an unpleasant truth, but it is a side-effect of a monetary system. (a resource-based economy would not have this particular problem.)

2. nrhatch - April 17, 2010

Chad . . . that is just what I needed to hear this morning. : )

Instead of feeling bad, I should stand tall and be proud of doing my part to create demand in the marketplace.

Instead of feeling like a hypocrite, I should be pleased that I lived up to my patriotic duty last night by tossing disposable products into the trash to clog up the landfills.

After all, the more we throw away, the more job security Americans (and underpaid workers overseas) will have.

And I’m sure that the improved economic outlook for this country from our excess consumption will more than make up for living on a dirty and polluted planet.

Thanks! : )

The Story of Stuff: https://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/annie-leonard-the-story-of-stuff/

3. Chad - April 17, 2010

Actually, I wasn’t saying you should be proud, my gist was that we should rebel against (or otherwise change) the economic forces that make waste profitable, rather than feel bad personally because we disposed of a disposable product. And, it is a very serious idea, that recycling and reusing are non-sustainable and economically harmful activities in a money-based world. You save the world at the expense of someone’s livelihood, and that isn’t something to take lightly either. Don’t feel proud, but don’t beat up yourself. Look at the world with both eyes open, not just one. I oppose waste too, just as much as you do, but I see it as a systematic problem caused by economic reality (namely money), not one caused by “irresponsible” party-throwers.

4. nrhatch - April 17, 2010

Oh, I see what you’re saying more clearly.

Thanks.

But I’m not sure that it makes me feel better ~ in fact, I feel worse.

Instead of feeling like I can make a positive difference by reducing, reusing, and recycling . . . I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. Maybe we’re all damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

I need a drink ~ it must be 5 o’clock somewhere. (:3=

5. nrhatch - April 17, 2010

On a more serious note . . . don’t we “rebel against the economic forces that make waste profitable” by refusing to buy disposable products in the first place?

That’s why I feel bad for throwing the plastic tablecloths away ~ because next month’s host and hostess will likely go out and buy more disposable tablecloths instead of reusing the ones we already had.

If we focus on individual changes . . . we will collectively have a trickle up effect that will steer manufacturers away from throw away items to items made more sustainably.

For example, the new compostable Sun Chips bag. Hey, that’s an idea . . . compostable tablecloths!!!!

You heard it here first, folks.

6. nrhatch - April 17, 2010

Another idea ~ I’m going to suggest that the street purchase “GREEN” tablecloths that can be washed and reused for years.

If we buy them in the color GREEN . . . they’ll work for Holiday parties, Spring and Summer parties, and even for Halloween and Thanksgiving parties. ; )

7. Chad - April 17, 2010

Another perspective: In the future, “mining” of landfills for usable material will be a driving force in the economy, and I believe they will find a use for damn near everything we threw away. Picking through our trash will be a profitable job (if “profit” still exists) for our great-grandchildren when it becomes MORE convenient to recycle than to waste. History doesn’t have a locked-in “trajectory” by which waste will increase and increase – society will fully change exactly when it becomes convenient or necessary, not because of anyone’s moralizing or pontificating. In addition, technology will allow future generations to reverse much of the environmental damage done by those of us from the 20th century. They will remember us fondly for the significant social progress we made at the same time that they condemn us for our failings and ignorance (though they will be ignorant in their own way as well.) Yes, I’m an optimist, although that fact tends to come out later in a discussion rather than sooner for some reason – probably because my optimism is nuanced rather than feel-good.

nrhatch - April 17, 2010

Sorry, Chad ~ I overlooked this comment earlier.

Assuming that we don’t annihilate ourselves and the planet first, I expect that you are correct with this perspective on the future.

In the meantime, moralizing, pontificating, and my “feel good optimism” keeps me awake and alive.

8. Chad - April 17, 2010

“On a more serious note . . . don’t we “rebel against the economic forces that make waste profitable” by refusing to buy disposable products in the first place?”

You seem to have missed the point. In a system driven by money, re-usable products that never go bad or need to be thrown away are not economically sustainable because consumption is NECESSARY for a monetary economy to function. If you manufacture something that is not disposable or designed to become obsolete, you will go out of business when a certain percent of people who need your product already have it. No consumption, no jobs. If you only buy such items you are putting people out of work, UNLESS you are actually hiring people to clean the tablecloth after the party, put it away for you, help plan your next eco-friendly party, etc. The key is to move from a monetary economy to one based on resources and people. Your heart’s in the right place though.

nrhatch - April 17, 2010

I didn’t miss the point you were making . . . I chose to side-step it because, quite frankly, completely revamping the entire economic system (in the comment section of a blog post) seemed a bit too overwhelming for me on a Saturday morning.

Instead, I hoped to share an example of how we can use technology to have our tablecloths and compost them too!

Cheers!

9. nrhatch - April 17, 2010

BTW: I’d be interested in seeing your economic model “based on resources and people” fleshed out in more detail.

If you’re talking about the Communist Manifesto ~ “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” ~ that economic model has been tried, rather unsuccessfully . . . because many people are inherently selfish (and lazy) unless driven to achieve by external rewards (e.g., receiving a bigger piece of the pie than they actually need).

10. Chad - April 17, 2010

“BTW: I’d be interested in seeing your economic model “based on resources and people” fleshed out in more detail. ”

Thought you’d never ask!

Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s nothing to do with Communism.

Click to access The%20Zeitgeist%20Movement.pdf

Now, I by no means agree with everything in this little “manifesto.” What it says about the “scientific method” is rather naive, and there are other flaws, notably the commonly-held fantasy that religion and spirituality will simply disappear in the future. However, the economic stuff is very sound – the basic idea is that as machines replace more and more workers, money will naturally become obsolete (because who are you going to pay? The robots? Where will 95% of the population get a job? and other serious, unaddressed problems like this.) The “solution” will surprise you because it defies commonly held notions about the real role of money in the world, it does not require a revolution or the use of force, and it seems to lie quite naturally at the end of the road we’re on, rather than requiring endless work by “activists.”

On a side note, capitalism and communism are both failed models, partly because they are technologically obsolete but fundamentally because they are both monetary systems. Also, the USSR in particular fell not because of any flaw in incentive or productivity or any of the usual “theoretical” reasons given by rank-and-file capitalists (there are plenty of “theoretical” reasons why capitalism doesn’t work, either), but because it pursued a war in Afghanistan that broke the bank. Hmmm….

nrhatch - April 17, 2010

Thanks for the link.

I’m reading it now ~ I tend to agree with most of what they are saying about the problems with capitalism and free market economies.

But I have a ways to go . . .

11. Chad - April 17, 2010

BTW, putting aside the “big picture” for a moment, your idea for green tablecloths is actually quite commendable and practical.

nrhatch - April 17, 2010

I try. : )

12. Joanne - April 17, 2010

WOW…! I feel simultaneously elevated, enlightened AND entertained… Reading your posts was for me better than watching an episode of Law & Order… Two very intelligent and concerned people debating in a civilized fashion — each with his/her own perfectly valid perspectives and willing to take a look at the other’s.

Here’s my humble two-cents worth — maybe 5cents with inflation… The two of you together reminded me of the internal dialogue I hear going on between my left and right brains.

I read Coversations With God quite a while ago… I never forgot what he (the author — or maybe it was God…?) basically said about how we gauge our successes — as individuals or globally-speaking… Some questions we need to address, starting with our core beleifs. What do we really believe about the Universe…? Is there really lack…? If we truly all want the same things, what are our agreed-upon goals and objectives for this planet? What measures will we take to get there? How far have we come in getting close to those objectives?

If we can say we are each doing our individual part in changing, shifting, shaping and creating a better world, we can alleviate guilt and the curse of perfectionism — and just address the problems at hand like you did right here with those creative ideas of yours… I like those ideas…!

13. nrhatch - April 17, 2010

If you want answers to a few of those questions, you need to check ou the link Chad pointed me to ~

Click to access The%20Zeitgeist%20Movement.pdf

Fascinating read. Confirms many of my present views about the problems we are facing today with corruption, greed, and divisiveness ~ with clearly spelled out explanations for why those characteristics are built into the our obsolete market system.

Stay tuned for my next post!


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