Every since I read Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart I've looked at "things" a little differently. The book directly challenges the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world. It explains how we should model human industry on nature's processes in which materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. If we look at the example of a tree, we see that a tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider all the extra blossoms wasteful. Instead of waste, the extra blossoms are food. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new-either as "biological nutrients" that safely re-enter the environment or as "technical nutrients" that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles, without being "down-cycled" into low-grade uses (as most "recyclables" now are). So now, when I am on the verge of acquiring new things, I tend to envision what the end of the thing's life would be. If I can imagine it languishing in a landfill not becomming food for anything it becomes a great deterrent to acquiring it in the first place. In this spirit, when sent a questionnaire by my federal government employers about whether I wanted a "keepsake" to commemorate my years of service, I checked "no" on the form. We had a small staff meeting where my co-workers got keepsakes and people thought it odd that I had said I didn't want one. But the government works in strange ways. A couple of months after the keepsake distribution I got a call from someone affiliated with the keepsake distribution verifying my name. I corrected the spelling of my last name, which is officially hyphenated. A couple of months after that a box of Salisbury Pewter cups arrived with my name engraved on them with mylastnamerunalltogether with no hyphen and "10 years of service" on them. It seems that the wheels of a big bureaucracy can't be stopped. Does the government really know best after all? I was surprised to find myself liking my little cups and I think they will somehow avoid ending up in the landfill.