Brooding On

Waste Not, Want Not

Today, as I was taking a shower and using my little mesh drawstring bag I made to hold the little pieces of soap that would otherwise be rendered useless, I was reminded of something I read lately.  An author was saying that she knew times were tough for her family when her mom sewed pantyhose bags to be able to make use of every last soap shard.  When I read it, I remembered thinking, "But what else would you do with the tiny pieces of soap?  Throw them away?"  I assume that's what most of us do. 

Later in the day, I found myself mending a hole Girl 2 tore in a dress that she wore to school last week.  (Whether or not the hole was ripped intentionally because of how upset she was that she had to wear a dress to school remains unknown.  I prefer to think that my sweet child is not capable of such malicious behavior, so we'll go with that.)  Once I'd fixed the hole in the dress, I searched my button jar for a button to replace the one on John's dress slacks that was broken by the cleaners this week and sewed it on.  This season, I've ironed on countless knee patches (Oddly, Little Boy is the only kid who's not yet donning patched jeans -- I thought boys were supposed to be the roughest on their clothes!?).

Mending clothing and using up every last bit of soap are nothing special.  But, in this consumer culture, many of us are guilty of putting those worn out jeans into the donate pile, or worse, the trashcan.  I want to fight back against that tendency and Waste Not.

I think my obsession with mending and reusing stems from our compost pile out back.  I've been amazed at what is compostable that I would normally throw away.  Things like shredded newspaper, coffee grounds, tea bags, and dryer lint are a few of the things I've been surprised to learn can be thrown onto the pile.  Who would've thought that I could re-purpose dryer lint, turning it into rich compost, that will turn into beautiful, nutritious garden-grown food for our family?

So, now I keep looking at things I might normally throw away and thinking "What else could I do with this?"  An empty spray bottle became the holder for my homemade hair conditioner.  Newspaper has become pots for starting seeds indoors.  The mesh bags that were the packaging for the bicycle knee pads and elbow pads the girls got for Christmas have been transformed into soap bags, like the one hanging in my shower.  Worn out washcloths have been sewn into reusable cotton pads I use for applying toner in my skin care regimen, and others were cut to size to fit my Swiffer mop perfectly.  Empty cardboard boxes have been broken down and will be used sometime next week as weed block underneath our new raised garden boxes.  The yogurt that was a couple days past date but still smelled just fine made a great treat for the chickens.  And the yogurt container -- who knows?   The possibilities are endless!

Between re-purposing, composting, and hauling things to the recycling center, our family of five can consistently fit a week's worth of trash headed for the dump into one 13 gallon kitchen-sized trash bag -- quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself.

Perhaps this post can inspire you, too, to stop the next time you're about to toss a holey pair of pants, empty peanut butter jar, or yesterday's newspaper and ask yourself what else you could possibly do with it so as to Waste Not and Want Not.