Friday, June 27, 2014

The crockless pot: Day 5

A few months ago I made pork ribs in our slow cooker. All the juicy sweet ribs were devoured by my family within minutes, but the crock pot remained on, hot and empty. In my haste to clean up, I removed the crock from the electric base and set it in the sink. As I was turning my back there was a loud splitting sound. The crock had cracked like the Liberty Bell. "Oh well. One less dish to wash, but what to do with the remaining crockless pot?" Unwilling to throw it away, I returned it to the cupboard where it remained, useless but not quite trash.
I had been thinking about which object to jettison for Day 5, when the crockless pot came to mind. I wanted to put in the garbage but shouldn't I really order replacement stoneware instead? Most small appliances don't get recycled but end up filling those giant craters we make in the earth with an ocean of rubbish. I was feeling really guilty about this. I should be part of the answer, not the problem.
So, I checked out the manufacturers website. Searching with my item's model number came up with a blank. I fiddled around, typing in different variations of the numbers listed on the bottom of the slow cooker. Again, nada. So, after fifteen or so wasted minutes I dialed customer service. Immediately, I was placed on hold (apparently I am not the only one who forgets basic kitchen stoneware+warm water=broken crock) but then I was connected to an actual person! Yes, a human being actually spoke to me! To add to this amazingness, he wasn't even rude! After I gave him the various numbers off the bottom of the appliance he informed me that the price for the crock would be about $12.00. Then add on the $6.00 for shipping. Together that is about $14.00 more then I paid at the thrift store for the whole appliance.  I could probably get myself another used one for $4.00 or even purchase a new one at the local warehouse closeout store.  I thanked the customer service representative and I dialed the closeout store. Yes, they had crock pots, and for less then the price of the replacement crock for mine. my attempt to get rid of something I was once again adding extra work to my day. That is why I had put off dealing with it for so long. There is so much to consider when dealing with a mostly broken appliance; "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle" for instance. By throwing away this appliance and getting a new one I was creating more garbage. Even if I bought another used one, this one was still going to end up in a landfill. Financially though, how do I justify spending more money to replace part of an old crockpot? It could stop working any day. In fact, now that I was thinking about it, it had always seemed that the low setting wasn't really low, just not as hot as high. Maybe that is why it had been at the thrift store to begin with.
Then I remembered seeing a plastic lid in the bottom of the pantry. Bingo! I didn't need to replace it at all. We had a smaller crockpot that had been in our camping trailer stored away in the attic. For some reason the lid never made it up there though. Now, I could rid myself of the crockless pot with less regret.
I wasn't ready to just throw it into the trash yet though.
A search online yielded infinite options for reusing the crock from a broken slow cooker, but few viable options for the metal electric heating part. My county's recycling center treats them as bagged garbage so into the landfill it would go. There was someone online who suggesting stripping it of the copper, breaking it apart and the taking it to a place that purchases scrap metal. I know I will never do that. The crockless pot will be sitting where it is now, right next to our door, for the next 6 months till my husband gets sick of moving it out of his way and just tosses it.
This had become a complicated ethical question, so I decided to pass the buck. I would donate it to a thrift store when I took the kids out shopping. Who knows? Maybe there is a potless crock out there waiting for a base. One can only hope.

As a post script, I wrote this entry earlier in the week but didn't get a chance to edit it until today. We did take the crockless pot to a local thrift store where they accepted it as a donation. It may of had something to do with the fact that it was handed to them by an adorable 8 year old. Had I chosen to hand it to the volunteer myself, I may not have been so lucky.
While we were at the store, I didn't even look at crock pots.

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