The word for Wednesday was . . .

. . . waste

I’ve been lazy/busy and so this word should really be for the week, not for Wednesday. Oh, well, I hope you all forgive me . . . (note: there are other thoughts in here besides strictly waste-related ones . . . those darn ‘blades of grass’ . . .)

What sparked this word was this:

I very much agree with the Pope on this and am thrilled that he is calling for global financial reform and other positive changes. This is very good news, if it is followed up by action.

I see waste so often; at work it was amazing. I got in trouble for suggesting that if people weren’t going to eat their ‘dated’ yogourt, etc., that they let me know and I would see it got to someone who would use it. I worked in the natural and organic food business some years ago and I know that food does not become inedible the minute the ‘due date’ arrives. I always check, of course, because sometimes even food with ‘time left’ has gone bad early.

Another way of not wasting food is to use leftovers to make frittatas, soups, stews, shepherds’ pies, and much more. I have always saved all the bones from chicken or turkey and used them to make stock. The hard part here is having so little storage room; a freezer would help a lot.

Small amounts of vegetables can be blended with liquid and used for making breads. I see that Dempster’s  now has a Veggie Bread that claims to provide half a serving of veg in every two slices. But I could do that for less . . .

Many large businesses here, especially retailers, do not recycle paper (no time, they say). The condo building (recently converted from apartments) that we live in only started providing re-cycle bins in the past year. Before that I would put Mum’s and my recycling items into blue bags; when I had two or three ready, I would call friends to pick them up. We would put them in the garbage collection area back of their house. I first began recycling long ago, when we had to separate everything (cans, glass jars, paper, etc.), then take it to a recycling centre and put each type into a separate collection box. At one time, when it first began, you had to pay for the privilege, too.

When I lived in Chilliwack, BC, there was a group called ‘The Gleaners’; they would come pick up any garden produce that you couldn’t use yourself. They came for the extra zucchini that I grew in the backyard. Not much of my garden did well, but I didn’t have much time for it, either.

I was not happy when I found out that untouched food in restaurants cannot be given to a local food bank; it’s a ‘health risk’. Apparently, throwing it in the dumpster, then letting homeless people dig through for whatever they can salvage is not a health risk . . .

For myself, I finish what’s on my plate (early training, along with ‘don’t take more than you can eat, come back for seconds if necessary’) or else I take the leftovers home for the next day. When I had a compost pile, anything I didn’t want to eat the next day went there to be recycled.

I don’t throw out my clothes, either. I mend if needed and I re-use the fabrics once they are past wearing. When I lived in the country, old clothes became what we wore for outdoor work. My grandmothers made quilts out of old clothing; none of what we do now (buying new fabric, cutting it up small, then sewing it back together). The art quilts are fantastic, and I plan to make some myself, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also make recycled quilts. My grandmothers often used old woolen things, like coats, for filling the quilt. Makes for heavy covers, but on an icy winter night, that’s often a good thing.

Instead of buying plastic ‘toys’ for kids, which often do nothing but clutter up the house and look ugly, we bought books and project kits or supplies (mostly supplies) for our own and other people’s kids. The books are often from the second-hand book store. My theory is that everything’s ‘used’ after you’ve had it for a couple of hours, so why the big deal? And my Mum often remarked that when we were toddlers, we were just as happy with a couple of pot lids to bang together and a cardboard box to climb in and out of, as with a new toy. Mum was good at helping us create fun from very little. By the time I was 9 or 10, she showed us how to tie a piece of string on one end of a long branch (about a foot back from the end, and the branch usually had no twigs or leaves; maybe a small bunch at the far end). We would straddle these ‘horses’ and gallop happily through the woods, across the meadows, down the driveway and back, making loud neighing sounds the whole way. (or we’d be cowboys . . .)

We made our own music and played board games of various sorts. All of us read a LOT!! As did my own two. And we mostly did things together, not each off in a separate room. Sundays we often went for a drive (cars were still a big deal then and no-one had thought about pollution or peak oil), sometimes to go fishing, more often to visit a favourite uncle and aunt, who had a son just younger than I was. Sometimes it was just a drive, off the main highways, with a stop at a lake to swim or an icecream and pop treat (those were fairly rare, even at 5 cents a cone for a single, 10 cents for a double scoop and 10 cents for the bottle of pop, it was still pricey for a family with nine kids).

We used to sing in the car. My Dad had a great voice and at home he played the guitar as well as singing, alone or with us joining in. We later had a small chord organ and all of us taught ourselves to play. Dad would accompany us while we sang.

We went to the drive-in to watch a movie most weekends when Dad was home. Mum popped popcorn and we ate it out of shared brown grocery bags. For a drink, we each got a glass of ‘Freshie’, which was the Canadian original to ‘Kool-Aid’. It was on the market from the 50s to the early 80s. Nowadays, I’d find something healthier to take along.

Friends of mine, whose three children lived at home back then, took their kids to the thrift stores every week or two. They would donate any clothes they had outgrown or gotten tired of, then were allowed to buy ‘new’ things to replace them. The littlest girl just loved it! I remember when she found a cute tulle tutu and wore it over everything; long skirts, jeans, pajamas; for weeks, it was her one constant garment. The parents bought nearly all their clothing at the thrift store, too. I’m quite tall, and in later years put on some extra pounds, so I’ve always had difficulty finding things that fit and looked ok on me. But that was true in the retail stores as well as the thrift stores. I’m not a fashionista, but I don’t care to look as though I thought the feed sack would do, either. My solution was teaching myself to sew. I hand-stitched (no electricity, then, by choice) so much of my clothing. I love long skirts and dresses, so that was the bulk of it. I still have those things, too . . . I saved money buying T-shirts and jeans in the mens’ departments. The sizing offers more choices (ladies’ pants just got wider but not longer, so I always looked as though I’d grown out of my things; and the blouses end a couple of inches north of my wrist; a look that only appeals if I was going for the ‘orphan Annie’ or ‘Little MatchGirl’ look . . . ) Sizing is a little better these days, but it’s still hard for me to find clothes I like that also fit.

I know some people are making ‘plarn’ (plastic yarn) by cutting plastic bags into long strips and using that for knitting or crocheting things like boot mats for outside the front door. Others are re-cycling old T-shirts into ‘Tarn’, using the same process. There’s not end to human creativity; and now we can share what we know and learn from others, too.

I’ve been lucky, I think. I never had the ‘new’ bug that so many people have. I like to get things the way I like them and then leave them that way. Occasionally, I might move some furniture to make room for a new ‘find’ or to accomodate a new hobby. The benefit to leaving things where they ‘belong’ is not tripping over them when you get up in the night.

I’ve been very happy salvaging from what others have thrown out, or intended to throw out. I have a few books from the late 1800s that I found in a house I was hired to clean out after the renters fled, leaving a few things behind. Three of them are music books with embossing and gilt lettering on the covers. One features English music, another Scottish Music and the third is all songs by the Irish composer Thomas Moore, who wrote “The Minstrel Boy”, still one of my favourites and it still makes me cry. Speaking of waste . . .

It’s not that hard to cut down on waste, at home, work or in public. And we can all put the pressure on companies to do more, and do it better, when it comes to re-cycling.

If you have a minute (and aren’t too busy un-wasting something LOL), share your favourite way to not waste or anything your community is doing to effect positive change in this area.


27 thoughts on “The word for Wednesday was . . .

  1. Great post in these recession times. I was brought up to be frugal and have continued that into my adult life. Sadly my 2 brothers have not. Do you think all this frugality/recycling/make do and mend is something women are better at?

    • I hadn’t thought of it as a gender thing . . . I know some women who are pretty wasteful and some men who are pretty frugal, so I think it must be something in the personality. Or maybe some kids rebel against their upbringing and others like the connection of carrying it on . . . that’s part of it for me, I know. Same as my crafts . . . I love knitting or crocheting and thinking that my grandmothers and their foremothers before them did the same thing. I can’t say I liked everything the earlier generations did, but who does? But I do like to carry on all the positive actions. ~ Linne

  2. A wonderful post Linne, You have reminded me that my friend and I galloped absolutely miles on stick horses, and they were some of the happiest times I can remember. We have a fantastic Sort-It recycling centre close by which take all sorts of things – just about anything recyclable, from juice cartons to hardcore to electrical goods. And they also have a warehouse full of things for sale, from cutlery to furniture. It’s a great idea.

    • Those were good times, weren’t they? Did you have ‘cap’ guns, too? I still remember the smell after they were fired. Sometimes we unrolled the caps and put a strip on a sidewalk, then set them off with a rock. Simple fun, in those days . . .

      Your Sort-It centre sounds great!! I like that they sell things rather than it all going to the dump . . . Wish we did that here, too.

  3. Hi Linne 🙂 This is a great post and one after my own heart so reblogging thank you.

    We waste nothing here, especially food. Leftovers are always turned into another meal or as a last resort are fed to the chooks. If we have more than we can use from the garden it goes to friends, family, neighbours or the drop in centre for people to take free. I shop at the supermarket that has a zero waste policy, everything is given to food banks and churches and I love that they do that.

    Everything we own has been bought secondhand, including our clothes. We are very proud of our $30 washing machine that has lasted 7 years, our $10 TV with matching cabinet, our $20 rustic sideboard that was a shed workbench….we aren’t missing out on anything at all having little money but embrace it as a challenge to do the best we can with what we have but also are very aware that we are faring alot better than 75% of those on the planet. Op shopping provides an income for charities that need the money to help others and I’d rather give my money there than to chain store owners and have the same as everyone else.

    I love the charm of old things, that began as a young teenager when I discovered a copy of Little Women and a poetry book in a cupboard that survived an old house being pulled down I had felt a need to explore. Old and unwanted does me just fine 🙂

    • Thanks, Wendy! I was raised that way, then carried on through necessity, so it’s sort of second nature to me now. I’ve been criticised for it, but have no intention of stopping. As to leftovers, there’s always ‘cupboard’ or ‘fridge’ soup . . . whatever’s in there goes in the pot. If I had a freezer, I’d keep a bag of veggie peelings (I don’t peel, but Mum does) and trimmings and make stock every couple of weeks. I own a fairly new wringer washer (electric) that I took in trade from someone who owed me money. It worked fine. It’s been in my BC storage forever, so I just have to hope it still works! My sister gave me a small tv with a tape player built in to the base; it’s in storage here, but I’ll use it again. I have a couple of boxes of taped shows I meant to watch and never got around to. For now, I’ve been spoilt; for Christmas, she gave me a NetFlix subscription, but I’ve been so busy with this and that, I’ve only watched a handful of films and started another couple.

      I would love your sideboard; it’s just my sort of thing. You may need to make the rustic mason jar centrepiece to top it off, eh?

      I have had trouble all my life finding clothes that fit; I’m 5’10” and was very skinny til my 40s, then slowly added on. Comfort eating has its drawbacks. Now I have a lot to let go of, but that’s happening, just slowly. In any case, my height is in my legs and I have long arms to match, so blouse sleeves stop above my wristbones and ladies’ pants don’t come to my ankles. I hate that!! I was called “Ichabod Crane” at one school, ’cause his arms dangled a mile out of his sleeves. Thrift stores rarely have anything that I like that fits me. Of course I like the old hippie styles best. Luckily for me, I haae kept most of my clothes and have some in BC and some in the storage here. But Edmonton’s not really a good place to wear what you like, unless you are impervious to odd looks and I’m not, really.

      I’m with you on old things; I still have a coverless book I found in an attic on feeding prize-winning livestock. I used it back when we had the horses, goat and a few chooks and ducks. I’ve collected other old books along the way and they are my favourites. I really hope at least one of the grandkidlets grows up to love old stuff, too, before it’s my turn to move on from this planet. But they are very young, so who knows . . .

      A friend from work over a year ago had offered me a ride home; as we walked through an alley on the way to her car, I saw three cast iron frying pans on the ground next to a dumpster. They weren’t there for long . . . the smallest was just the size for one or two eggs and I’d wanted one forever! Sometimes we are just plain lucky, eh? I love finding things, especially in old houses (including the houses themselves). It’s why I liked the old boxcar on Stacy’s blog, too. Anything like that, I just want to take on and nurture . . .

      • You found 3 cast iron frying pans! That’s a score. I have a set of 3 I bought at a garage sale for $5 I was rapt to find – Roger dropped the large one and broke the handle unfortunately but I still use it.

        We went to a garage sale a few weeks back and next door the people were putting free stuff out at their gate…we were the only ones there at the time and got a mandolin still in box, 2 crochet blankets and a bookcase. Was lots of other stuff there but I feel you have to leave treasures for other people too lol.

        I love old houses too 🙂 And not impervious to odd looks either lol. You are tall, I am 5’1″ and I have the problem of being on the heavy side so trying to find jeans etc secondhand is always a hassle.

        One of my sons gave me a vacuum cleaner for my birthday recently, it’s very flash and rather strange having something so new really – I felt really guilty because I knew it would have cost alot of money and that was unnecessary really, I would’ve been happy with a $20 second hand one 🙂 He always says “It’s only money ma” and I always say “it’s only stuff though, any old “stuff” will do. Funny, we’re all different.

      • I was also lucky when my closest Auntie died a few years ago; her son (my closest cousin, as our Dads were brothers and our Mums were sisters) gave me his Mum’s cast iron waffle iron; the round one that sits on a woodstove right in the hole when you remove one of the lids. It swivels within the outer ring, so you can turn it over to cook the other side by just twisting the handle. I haven’t had the chance to use it yet (no wood stove for some time), but I was thinking that once it’s unpacked again, I should try it over the electric burner. I suspect that would work, too. I’d just have to lift it off in order to turn it over.

        Awesome job at the garage sale!! You were so nice to leave some for others . . . I’m heavy, too, and have the same problem. Women’s jeans, etc. get wider, but not longer. At least when you are shorter, you can cut legs off (and make a carry bag or pillow cover or even a big denim comforter [my Mum made a couple and tied them with bright red yarn – she left the pockets on, too, so it was an interesting ‘to-do’ cover for a little boy]). What I’ve done for short jeans, though, was to sew on a rectangle of fabric (demim if you want to be less noticeable; something flash like gold velour if you want to be stage centre). I did that with a new pair of jeans years ago; the first time I washed them, I left the dryer going in the laundromat and went to windowshop at a favourite little gift store; when I returned, I found the two rectangles (yes, gold velour!!) neatly on the counter and my new jeans were gone! That was a drag, as I was a single Mum back then and couldn’t afford another new pair. Oh, well, maybe they needed them more than I did. I think I still have the two strips somewhere . . . 🙂

        Nice of your son to give you a vacuum; I’m with you on the second-hand, though 🙂 Tell him if it’s second-hand, it’s two gifts, really; one for you and one for the planet . . . I dislike the noise of vacuums, even if they do a good job. I’d like only wooden and lino floors, then I could use a broom and inbetween, a dustmop. That’s what we did when I was at home.

      • Funny about your jeans and gold strips lol, but I imagine a pain at the time. I generally only have 2 pairs of jeans in between looking for them, it takes ages to find a pair that fits. I hadn’t had a sewing machine for over 30 years until the last month so I expect that will come in handy for jobs like that.

        I would love wooden floors too, much nicer. Ours has chipboard so carpet looks better than that, and this house is so cold.

        A cast iron waffle iron sounds cool, I expect it work fine on electric elements. I found a cast iron thing a month or so ago, it has 9 I think golf ball sized holes in it, have no idea what it is but it’s interesting. Has a wooden handle….one day I’ll find out it’s purpose I hope lol

      • How’s it going with the sewing machine, anyway? Hope you’re finding time for it . . .

        As to chipboard, I saw a floor once that was stained, then had a thick coat of Varathane or the like put on top. Looked pretty good. If your place is cold, though, you would likely need rugs anyway.

        If you have time, post a photo of the cast iron whatsit; someone on here may know what it is . . . I’ll ask my Mum, too . . .

      • Ok I will, it’s got me stumped really lol.

        I’ve been painting this week so haven’t picked up with the sewing machine again but bought a pile of old vintage ric rac and bias binding to add to my fabric, maybe in the weekend I will actually do something with it! The mosaic ball I was doing got played with by Syd, the dog, so needs to be repaired before it gets to the grouting…mutter, mutter.

        We had thought of doing something like that with the floor but it would just be too cold. Our lounge is over a large basement that the wind just whistles through really, until that is all insulated we are stuck with our yucky carpet I think. Lying on the floor doing stretching n stuff I can feel the cold coming up through it.

      • Yeah, if it’s that cold, I’d leave the carpet, too! I saw your post with the painting, but am so behind with the Feed Reader I haven’t worked up to it to reply yet. I’m juggling a lot and getting behind even a bit makes a difference.

        Looking forward to seeing what you do with the ric rac, etc. Too bad about your mosaic ball ; but I guess dogs have their own way of seeing things, eh? Is your dog related to Earl and Bezial?? 😉

        I don’t know what a sheet of styrofoam costs, but it’s super-insulating; one sheet might be nice to put down and do your stretching on. Just a thought.

        I’m very curious about the whatsit . . . ~ Linne

      • I’ll post a photo shortly 🙂

        Quite possibly related to Narf’s dogs lol. I can’t growl about it, I left it sitting on a glass drying, it would’ve looked just too inviting to ignore to a year old pup, I have learned from the experience lol

        I’m doing my stretching right by the fire now. I get behind in my reading too 🙂

  4. I love old things, including my husband 🙂 I will buy second hand before looking for new. I even bought my swimming pool second hand … Love op shops and freecycle, which is an online recycling group. My kids use to love going to the op shop when they were young. Now they buy second hand too, so I guess they learned something from me lol.

    • Your husband is a lucky man!

      For me it’s not only about not wasting; I love the sense of history in an old piece and if handmade all the more. I like to think of who might have sat in my chair, worn my sweater (jumper), read my books . . . I kept all my elder friend’s photos that her family didn’t want. I couldn’t bear to see them discarded; they meant so much to her. They are in an old leather suitcase, which I also love. But in the BC storage, alas . . . I just hope they are ok . . .

    • Thsnks, rabid!! Not wasting is a good start to frugality, I think. In my parents’ time and back before them it was just what most people did, but with tv we have been manipulated to waste more and more so that a few rich people get even richer. We need to decide whose life we are working to improve . . . theirs or ours?

      I never mentioned car racing; we have one here every summer for a week or so . . . cars going round and round at great speed (and noise well into the night), burning up gas, oil, rubber, etc. while people like you, Narfie7 and many of my other readers are working so hard to offset peak oil. Makes me feel rantish . . . ;-/

  5. How funny Linne, I just met a mother this evening of one of my son’s friends who volunteers at an organisation called FareShare. They collect food from restaurants and other businesses that would otherwise be thrown out and turn it into delicious nutritious meals for people who would otherwise go hungry. So far, they have saved 272.8 tonnes of food from landfill. Here’s the link if you want to read more:

    • I checked out FareShare and it’s impressive! Every town and city ought to have something like that. I noted that they said that by ‘rescuing’ food from going to a landfill, they also reduce the emissions (forget now exactly which one they referred to specifically, sorry) that come from decomposing food.

      In Victoria (BC), apartment dwellers can sign up for a food waste collection service. They come around weekly, I think, and collect your food waste; it goes to a property in the countryside and is turned into compost. Every household gets a share of the compost back, to use on houseplants or whatever they have.

      I remember reading some time back about people who collected food waste from restaurants and used it as part of the food for the pigs they raised. I don’t remember where that was or how it worked out in the end.

  6. I ask people for their autumn leaves and reuse them in our garden as mulch and soil ammeliorants. I also shop at thrift shops and often end up with better quality clothing than I could have possibly hoped to buy new. I have taught my daughters to find value in frugal living and my eldest has started growing vegetables and they both budget, look for bargains and are debt free. I cook as much as I can from scratch and only shop for things that we can’t produce ourselves (meat and dairy) and try to minimise plastic bags etc and if I do get them, I reuse them productively. It’s mainly rethinking your way out of the collective spending lane that advertisers would like us to stay in…just stick out your hand (they own the indicators…) and veer left folks, get in that slow lane and drive like a nana! Who cares who doesn’t like your choices, there is a fast lane right next to you? Why do they need to sit behind you! Its all about personal choice and showing people that your own choices are valid AND worthwhile and that there are other options.

  7. Interesting that you should post this today. I got up this morning before the sun made its debut, and I didn’t turn on the lights. I figured #1) I would be wasting energy to do so, and #2) I could enjoy the morning so much more without them. ❤

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Linne

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