Yes, I’m in Las Vegas. The land of spectacular and horrifying excess. The place of slot machines and showgirls, high end shopping and outdoor escalators, buffet dinners and bottled water, and spending, spending, spending. It’s not the place where you’d expect to find someone trying to live a consumer-free, waste-free lifestyle, so let me attempt justify it: I’m here for work.
I’m in Las Vegas for a conference, and I’m staying in probably the most luxurious hotel I have ever stepped foot in (not that I stay in a lot of hotels). My bathroom is as large as my kitchen back home– no joke. Outside my window an endless stream of cars heads into the city and downstairs the air conditioned casino is a chorus of slot machines.
The consumer in me is not as tempted to shop as I thought (high end jewelery and tourist knick knacks aren’t my style); however, saying no to free stuff isn’t as easy. At the conference there are pens and rulers, yoyos and umbrellas, all free for the taking and sporting corporate logos. I live in Vancouver for crying out loud; who couldn’t use another umbrella? And it’s not just free stuff at the conference.
I was the kind of kid who used to run into the hotel room and judge its quality based on how many free toiletries they provided (if you got moisturizer, a sewing kit, and a shower cap, it was looking good). My hotel bathroom has no less than four bars of beautifully scented (and plastic wrapped) soap as well as about 7 or 8 bottles of obviously high-end, personal-sized lotions, toners and shampoos. Its hard to say no to all this when I’m faced with the alternative of my own well-used bar of soap, sadly deteriorating into mushy softness in its travel case.
So how well have I done? Well, I haven’t personally bought or accepted anything that isn’t food. Grant’s going to get a glass jar of cactus honey (which I just realized was purchased in a Nevada Nature Park, but was made in Arizona) as a token of my affection. I somehow traded my favorite pen for a different one, but that’s a net gain of zero. I almost broke down and bought some grossly over-packaged band-aids for the blisters I’ve developed from power walking across acres of convention center in heels, but I managed to make do with tape and a couple bandages begged from the concierge. They will still add to my bin at home, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make at this point (you try explaining to the security people at the airport why you have a bunch of used band-aids in your carry on bag).
You may have noticed that this post is surreptitiously missing any mention of waste and the ever-present food packaging that I love to harp on. That’s because I have so much to say about it, that I decided to split my Vegas Clean Bin experience into two sections, so stay tuned for part two – Recycling and Waste in Sin City.