Thursday, August 21, 2008

Seaside Heights ... of Excess

It's one of the only constants in my life - the annual summer escape to the Atlantic Ocean.  And as pleasures go, it's simple.  Sand, surf, a little bit of sun if we're lucky and Franklin, Freddie and I are happy as can be.

So happy, in fact, that we break a bunch of rules while away.  While we do stay in a hotel that recycles, uses CFLs and takes part in a few other green-minded efforts, we also engage in practices that are banned in our everyday life - most significantly, I buy Freddie juice boxes instead of refilling sippy cups.

The waste worries me, but I figure it's the equivalent of buying those mini boxes of cereal - my mother's concession to staying sane while in a hotel with small children.

But what bugs me - and yes, I'm still tense enough that I can be bothered by these things - are the sundries shops on every corner.  Heck, they're on both corners and mid-street, too.  You could arrive at the beach with nothing but the clothes on your back, and in a matter of minutes, have an umbrella, beach chair, boogie board, flip-flops, inflatable toys, sand buckets, oversized sand shovel, a swimsuit or three, towels, tee shirts and cover-ups, a henna tattoo and pretty much anything else you could imagine.

Franklin points out that we buy something at one of these shops nearly every year.  Sand toys for Freddie in 2007; a beach volleyball in 2008.  Like I said, we relax our rules as soon as we can hear the crashing of the surf.

So I'm trying not to judge lest we be blah, blah, blah.  But what really crazes me is the highly disposable nature of this stuff.  I've seen umbrellas tossed into garbage cans; beach toys forgotten in the sand; broken bits of shovel handles strewn about.

A few years back, Franklin and I owned one of those beach umbrellas.  It cost about $8, and the frugal part of my brain thought, well ... we're use it more than two days, and renting an umbrella costs at least $10/day, so we're quite likely to get our money's worth.

Only thing is that the umbrella broke about three uses in.  We replaced it, and the new one broke, too.

Now we mostly make do with our old Mexican blanket, whatever towels have been pressed into service and a bunch of other well-worn Greene Family items - our battered Siggs, a collection of sand buckets.

Still, I can't help wonder ... who's buying all of that junk, and how much use are they getting out of it before they need to replace it?  And why can't we have durable, practical and safe outdoor toys?  Hm?  Hmmmm?

I'll be right there when you're ready.

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