The North Pacific Gyre is a giant mass of plastic detritus churning around in the Pacific that isn’t going anywhere soon, and its killing off fish and birds. The birds eat it and it fills up their stomach so that they don’t have any hunger, and then they die of starvation with their stomachs full of plastic. Now one group has an admittedly far-fetched notion to recycle the plastic on the spot via floating factory ships and use the material to build a floating island utopia.
If you live in Iowa City, Iowa, you’ll soon be able to do your laundry at Kmart. I don’t get it either, but that’s what the retailer has announced. It will be testing a laundromat addition to one of its Kmart stores in the city, and has named it Kwash. I’m assuming you’re supposed to pronounce it K-Wash, but for the first five minutes I kept reading “quash” and wondering how in the hell that was supposed to make me think of clean clothes and cheap goods.
Sue Lowden, a senate candidate in Nevada, says if you want to combat health care costs you should consider bartering with your doctor. In an appearance on a local political talk show yesterday, she clarified her proposal:
If you’re between jobs, underemployed, or just have a lot of extra time on your hands now that you’ve give up expensive hobbies like smoking or shopping, here’s a list of 24 ways you can you earn some extra money. They’re not full time jobs, or sometimes even part-time jobs, but they’re a good starting point if you need some inspiration on how to bring in a little extra cash.
If you’ve been sitting on some great idea that will make life easier for the average consumer, you can try pitching it to Procter & Gamble, writes the New York Times. Swiffer, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and Glad ForceFlex trash bags all originated outside of P&G, although in most cases these outside ideas come from other companies. Still, you can go to their Connect + Develop website to pitch your own products if you like–just don’t try putting swiffer booties on cats, because they’ve already rejected that idea.
Scott Meyer frequently makes brilliant observations in his “Basic Instructions” comic, and by brilliant I mean nutjob. In the most recent one, “How to Save Money,” the comic version of Meyer realizes how expensive movie concessions are. Considering how many people commented on this the last time I posted about it, I thought you might find his ideas useful. Now I’m off to buy a stovepipe hat!
The personal finance blog Moolanomy posted a list of 25 cheap Halloween costumes, including ones that make no sense (see “Soup and crackers”) and ones that sound borderline dirty (see “Facebook wall”). The list made us realize that our readers probably have a lot of equally cheap, and equally-or-more creative, costume ideas of their own.
Australian consumers will soon be able to challenge any bank fee that they consider “unreasonable,” thanks to a new law that could save consumers up to $1 billion. Banks that want to keep levying excessive fees for late payments and overdrafts will need to prove that the charges are reasonable by revealing the true processing costs behind the fee.
Credit Slips has this wild idea about reforming the banking system by letting some fairy-tale character named “Bob” run around issuing loans to qualified people in his community. We normally love Credit Slips as a well-researched piece of scholarly work masquerading as a blog, like cauliflower disguised as Cheetos, but this “community banking” idea? Ridiculous, right?! Grab a juice box and hit the jump to see what happens when economists take a stab at children’s fiction.
Here’s a list of cheap Mother’s Day gift ideas, like decorating flip-flops with rhinestones (it’s a deliberately cheap let-the-kids-help project), newsprint roses made by some girls club, and some sort of photo book through Facebook that’s free for the first 10,000 orders. [ABC News]
“Chad Bradley” likes to write letters to companies. Unlike a normal crank, however, his letters are filled with complaints about surreal or nonsensical things, or they offer useless ideas for product improvements. (To the makers of Connect 4, for example, he suggests a new game called Connect 1.) The letters are entertaining enough on their own, but what’s even better is sometimes the companies write back.
Barry Schwartz spoke at TED this past February about “practical wisdom,” a classical term that Schwartz redefines in a modern context as knowing when and how to make exceptions to every rule, and when and how to improvise. His point, largely, is that a lot of modern life would run more efficiently, and more justly, if people would stop blindly following and enforcing rules when they become absurd.
Great idea from reader CumaeanSybil: “One thing I’ve been doing lately: every time I buy something on sale, I take the difference from regular price and put it in savings. It keeps me motivated to seek out sale prices and coupons, because I like seeing that account grow.”
Need gift ideas? Curbly user ModHomeEcTeacher has put together a list of 45 different holiday gift guides from around the web. [Curbly]
Last week, Slate published a list of children’s books about poverty, unemployment, shoe-eating, dust bowls, depressions, and recessions. From a late-19th century series called The Five Little Peppers through to 2007’s How To Steal a Dog, the list captures over 100 years of poverty-level slice of life–what we might call the Plight of the Raggedy Children.