Thursday, April 26, 2012

Waste Not Want Not

I’ve thought about this as my W post for a while now.  One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to stop being so wasteful.  I’m not sure how well I’m doing; it depends on when you ask me, some days are definitely better than others.  I do think I am making some overall improvement, though I still have a long way to go.

I thought about my dad’s grandparents a lot in deciding how to go about this post.  They died when I was 12, so I don’t remember as much about them as I’d like to.  I do remember that they saved everything, and I do mean everything.  They saved bags, cardboard, butter tubs, glass jars, the smallest scraps of food.  I always thought this was odd as a child; in our household most packaging was immediately discarded and leftover food was only saved if there was enough for a full meal.  I was told that this was due to their living during the Depression, and it was subsequently explained that they didn’t mean the kind featured in the Prozac commercials, it meant a time when no one really had anything.   A time when you had to make use of literally everything you had, a time when wasting something today meant doing without something tomorrow.  A time that was apparently so hard decades later they still lived that way.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to realize the wisdom in their approach.  Neither of them ever worked a very high paying job, yet they were comfortable.  They had what they needed and weren’t stressed about keeping up with others, or how a bill would be paid.  They didn’t live extravagantly, but they definitely lived comfortably.  They didn’t have to feel guilty about the amount of food they threw away every week or wonder where their paycheck went.  They didn’t spend money they didn’t have on things they didn’t need.  They took very good care of their things, so they didn’t have to constantly replace things.  They made use of everything they had, and they seemed to always have what they needed.

I’ve started trying to put some of their habits into practice; I’ve started planning meals for the week that use similar ingredients so I’m not throwing away as many half-used tubs of sour cream or bunches of spices.  I’ve started checking the expiration dates on packaged foods before I open them and using the ones that will expire sooner first.  We’ve also started freezing leftover food more often and defrosting it when we need a quick lunch or dinner.  We are making more of an effort to repair things if we’re able, instead of replacing them.  Simply put, we are trying not to waste what we have.


  1. Our parents and their parents also went through depression years and many of their hard earned lessons were passed on to us.

  2. It's a wise habit to have, if you can truly develop it. My problem is the rest of my family.

  3. My grandparents lived through rationing during and after the second world war. They still waste as little as possible today. It's definitely an attitude I'd like to adopt more myself.


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