Monday, October 26, 2009

Muda Monday - 2nd waste at home - Inventory

Muda is the Japanese word for waste and I hope to illuminate how the waste of inventory, too many and too much of anything, can be reduced at home saving time, money, and effort. The Toyota Production system the removal of waste as part of "lean" principles. Let's look at some examples of how the waste of inventory has played out in my home:

Food Inventory - unconsumed food excess on plates, food leftovers that spoil and are subsequently thrown away, food purchased but never consumed, etc.

So many examples of wasted food!
  • We love to eat mashed potatoes and gravy but the gravy leftovers are hardly ever eaten. Our countermeasure is to make only enough gravy that is eaten at that meal.
  • Don't buy things you won't drives are proof that people empty their cupboards with canned goods that no one wants.

The USDA estimated that 96 billions pounds of food or about 27% of food production is wasted each year.

Household inventory - too many clothes, excess household goods, garages overflowing with inventory, endless yards sales, and so on.
  • Goodwill Industries and other second hand stores exists because of excess personal inventories
  • Obsession with stuff leads to unhealthy behaviors and materialism
  • Loved ones have to sort through mountains of junk once a person passes away
  • Inventory can create a "denial of service" by taking up space that should be used for other purposes i.e. garage not used for cars but storing inventory

Our countermeasure was to start our Great Household purge last year which we are still in the process of doing. I recently sold a few things, had another round of donations and trash removal from my garage. We use the garage to park our car in. Also, buy only what you will need or find a way to make it, grow it, or trade for it so you don't accumulate uneeded items.

Information inventory - too much junk mail, endless electronic communications, excess information from TV, newspapers, and Internet, records retained beyond appropriate time, etc.

  • Cable TV where there are hundreds of channels yet only a few are watched
  • Mailboxes that are filled with expired emails that are not deleted
  • Cellphones with volumes of text message still hanging around
  • Telemarketing calls that waste your time
  • Files with obsolete or redundant information

Countermeasures that we have taken include dropping cable TV, eliminating unnecessary email boxes, getting on the do not call lists, and purging information on a regular basis. In addition, we are working on better processes to address the over consumption and overproduction of data and information.

These are but a few examples of inventory muda. Consider how you can reduce the waste of inventory and live a simpler, happier, and calmer life.

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

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