Waste Not, Want Not
Have you seen that commercial on T.V. with all the toilet paper rolls rolling down the streets? The ad claims that there are enough of these rolls to fill the Empire State Building…twice…over a short period of time.
Well, they are probably right and I certainly go along with their solution of using the new product they offer—a tubeless roll of toilet paper. Are there more ways we can “go green” or reduce “our carbon footprint?” Those are popular terms we hear today and we’d better listen, because we are running out of room to dispose of all the stuff we don’t want anymore. We have become a society of consumers who with each generation becomes more of a throw-away society than the one before it.
Remember the Great Depression and World War II when we were savers instead of a society who despoiled the environment? In the 30s it became necessary to save and reuse everything you possibly could so that you could put food on the table and have a roof over your head. Waste Not, Want Not.
Our mothers saved things like string, rubber bands, and paper grocery bags. Oh, yes, paper bags and not those plastic non-biodegradable bags that now fill our landfills. For that matter, I never remember using plastic garbage bags at all. We had a big steel barrel next to the barn where we dumped our house trash. Of course at some point the powers that be decided that that practice was not all that sanitary, thus the use of those black bags.
We didn’t throw things away as much either. An appliance was meant to last for several years, not the average time today which I observe as being from two to five years at the most. My mother had her washing machine for over 20 years and it was still in good working order after that. The T.V. we had in the living room was the one and the only one we ever had. Same with the console radio we listened to the Long Ranger on. Waste Not, Want Not.
We didn’t throw away shoes or socks with holes in them either. Shoes were resoled and passed on to someone else when we outgrew them. My mother had a darning egg in her sewing kit which she used often to darn my father’s socks.
Yankee Traders and Yankee Savers
I in fact come from a long line of Yankee Traders and Yankee Savers to boot. Let me tell you a couple of stories to prove it. These stories may be family fables but they just as well could be true.
The first story concerns an uncle who had a pair of “Spruce Head” shoes, meaning that he only wore them in the summer while residing at the cottage there. I don’t think he ran around the clam flats in them but they probably were imbedded with spruce sprills eventually.
This uncle bought these shoes at what then was called Sears and Roebuck. Flash forward 20 years and the shoes are finally worn out. I don’t know if this practice is still in force but Sears and Roebuck at that time would accept any product back with a full refund if you were unsatisfied, no questions asked. Guess what? Yep, he took them back. He may have even had the receipt from 20 years previous, but he got his money back—no questions asked.
The second story concerns my grandfather. Even though he was not living in poverty at the time, he had some strange saving practices. If he went to a dinner at the Masons say, he would, in true Jack Benny style, fold his napkin up very carefully and put it in his pocket to be used at home later. What he used for a napkin while he was eating at the Masons is anyone’s guess. Waste Not, Want Not.
During WWII the country was united in their saving habits, saving things like newspaper and scrap metal. Most homes had a vegetable garden or “Victory Garden” so the troops could be fed easier overseas. We were also forced to save or use things sparingly like gasoline and sugar because we had to have a special coupon to buy our allotment of those things.
How did we go so far astray from our Waste Not, Want Not society? Why do we need a new IPhone every year? Why do we always need to have the very latest and greatest gadget?
I must mention hoarders here, like those you see on T.V. They go too far in their saving habits but they suffer from a mental disorder and could use our help in deciding what to keep and what to throw out so that they do not end up living under such unsanitary conditions.
A Slap on the Back to the Great State of Maine
I congratulate my State of Maine for being more environmentally conscious than some other states I’ve lived in, such as Georgia. My sister-in-law, Kay should get a special commendation for her recycling efforts. She recycles everything she possibly can to take over to the recycling place in Thomaston. She has a compost heap too.
Maine also has a generous return policy regarding plastic and glass bottles. In Georgia we have recycling sites to take stuff too—if you can find them. I think there may be two such places in all of Gwinnett County where I live, an area that would cover three or four counties in Mid-Coast Maine. The real kicker is that they pay you by the pound as far as bottles go, not by each individual bottle. Therefore you have to save bags and bags of the things to even make a few dollars. No one is going to bother with that. Living here in this apartment I have no room to save them and especially to keep them bug-free while I am saving them.
I do the best I can, but I know I can do better. I try to buy water bottles that use the least amount of plastic and which I can twist into a smaller piece when I throw it away. When I replace a big item such as a washer or dryer I always buy it from a store that will remove the old one and recycle the parts on it so it won’t go into a landfill somewhere. When I relocate to Maine, I will try to be more of a good citizen as far as recycling goes. I want Maine to stay as beautiful as it is for as long as possible.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
These three words should be our mantra today. There is a wonderful site online called “Green and Simple Living” which has wonderful suggestions for today’s throw-away society. You can find it at: www.green-and-siple-living.com. Go there to see a discussion of how to create a better landfill; how you can practice the three R’s above; Low-impact Living; and other environmental topics.
Let’s all promise our children and grandchildren that we will leave them a world that is clean and environmentally safe for them to live in as they grow older.
Thanks for listening.