Amazon under fire for new packaging that cannot be recycled – The Guardian

Amazon has been criticised by environmental groups and customers after introducing a range of plastic packaging that cannot be recycled in the UK.

While supermarkets and other retailers have been reducing their use of single use plastics, the world’s biggest online retailer has started sending small items in plastic envelopes, seemingly to allow more parcels to be loaded on to each delivery truck.

This started a few weeks ago. I’ve had several deliveries in these non-recyclable envelopes, most of them for items that barely fill one-tenth of the available space. I’ve decided that I will refuse delivery of any such package from Amazon in the future.

Source: Amazon under fire for new packaging that cannot be recycled – The Guardian

The Zen of Everything Podcast, Episode 5: Shikantaza, Grape Juice, Alzheimer’s, Mindfulness, Buddhism as Religion, and a Woman who Feels no Pain

Jundo and Kirk discuss whether shikantaza is meditation, how to get a grape juice stain out of a carpet, how to deal with Alzheimers, how mindfulness is integrating in modern society, whether Buddhism is a religion, and the interesting case of a woman who feels no pain.

Find out more at the Zen of Everything website.

The Zen of Everything Podcast, Episode 4: Good Days, Hot Weather, Ikkyu, Happiness, Politics, Anger, Appliances, and the Ugly Lama

Jundo explains why all days are good days, and Kirk laments the hot weather in Europe. They revisit Ikkyu (“that old horndog”), and discuss politics, anger, a dead appliance, and the Ugly Lama.

Check out other episodes at the Zen of Everything website, and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Overcast.

The Zen of Everything Podcast, Episode 3: Cars, Drugs, Busses, and Simple Living

Zen of everything artwork smallJundo and Kirk discuss what makes a car a car, whether gamblers and criminals should donate money to good causes, how a bus driver can help make the world better, and a book on simple living.

Listen to the latest episode of The Zen of Everything.

My New Vitsœ Shelves Have Freed Up Space in My Office

In a recent article, I explained my new desktop zero plan to remove distractions around me when I work. As someone working at home, it’s very easy to let things accumulate, and it’s also a hard habit to break. I’ve succeeded in reaching desktop zero – at least as much as is practical, as there are some things I need on my desk – but my makeover project has gone much further than that.

In order to get more empty space in my office, I decided to remove a tall, dark bookcase from one area in my office, which was laden with things I wanted in the room, but many of which didn’t need to be visible. I did a bunch of rearranging of two pieces of furniture – low Ikea shelf units – but I needed some more practical storage. I settled on getting some Vitsœ shelves, from the company’s 606 Universal Shelving System. Designed by Dieter Rams, in 1960, and sold since then, these shelves are very modular and flexible. There are shelves of two widths and different depths, and a number of cabinets, all of which mount on vertical rails.

To buy these shelves, you measure your space, contact Vitsœ, and work with a planner, who explains the various options and creates precise plans for your installation. (They use a custom Mac app for this.)

Vitsoe plan

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Desktop Zero

In recent months, I realized that my workspace was too cluttered. Working at home, I have a great deal of flexibility, but it’s also easy to just pile things up, since they don’t bother anyone but me.

But the capharnaum that was my office started becoming a distraction. I realized that I would see the many items on my desk out of the corners of my eyes, and that many of them stood as reminders of things I had to do, papers to sort, tasks to complete.

So I set out to achieve desktop zero, or to remove as much as possible from my desk. While full desktop zero, other than my iMac, keyboard, and trackpad, is not possible, I’ve gotten about as close as I can come. I’ve done this by off-loading a number of items that were on my desk to other locations in my office (cabinets with doors), or to a new set of shelves I bought (more on them in a future article). As such, my desktop now looks like this:

Desktop zero

As you can see, it’s not entirely devoid of items. There are two speakers (which I’m hoping to replace with smaller, less ugly speakers, in the near future), a desk lamp, and a small écritoire, or writing desk, which holds a lot of the tiny objects I need to use during the day. At the right, you can see my microphone boom which is attached to the desk, and behind the writing desk, a pen holder and pencil holder. Finally, there’s a small bamboo box which holds remotes, AirPods, and a few other tiny objects.

What is not visible from this photo is a long, low cabinet to the right, on which I have my amplifier and CD player, printer and scanner, and a number of gadgets. But the angle of this cabinet (about 45 degrees leading from the near right corner of the desk) is such that I don’t see it when I work.

This change to my desktop is part of a broader program to minimalize my office. I sold a large amplifier and bought a Sonos Amp; I changed the position of a number of items; and I removed some furniture, notably a tall dark bookcase that made one section of my office uninviting.

In an ideal world, my office would have little more than my computer, some audio equipment, and a handful of everyday items. I would love to have a second room, near my office, where I could put everything else. Alas, that is not the case, but my new desktop has made my work a bit less stressful. If you can achieve desktop zero or approach it, you may find the same thing.

The Zen of Everything Podcast: Episode 1, Cats, Lawyers, Health, Women, and Roshis

Zen of everything artwork smallThe Zen of Everything presents a zen take on life, love, laughter, and everything else. With Jundo Cohen, a real zen master, and Kirk McElhearn, a guy who knows a bit about zen.

For the first episode of The Zen of Everything, we explain why we started this podcast, and what we plan to do. We then explore whether cats are zen masters, discuss Buddhist lawyers, talk about practicing zen with health problems, explore the idea of calling the Buddha a “she,” and explain what a roshi is.

Listen to the latest episode of The Zen of Everything.