Waste Not, Want Not

Posted on 14 October 2009

Waste Not Want Not

Like the Native Americans encountered by America’s pioneer settlers, we are finally learning to take only what we need, and no more, from the land and other vital resources.  In addition to conserving these resources, the process of “going green” delivers cost savings: something that nearly everyone in this crunched economy can appreciate.  For those of you who may just be getting started on your green initiatives, you may wish to consider some of these simple and effective options.


To reduce your electricity bills, run large appliance such as washing machines, dryer, and dishwashers during non-peak hours.  If you have gotten into the habit of leaving a light on because it makes your surroundings more comfy, you may want to try candles, either scented or unscented.  Be sure to trim the wicks on all but tealights (the smallest of candles) and to remove soot from the wicks that may have accumulated during the candle’s last burning; these steps will prevent, respectively, uneven burning and smoking.  Keep flames at least two feet away from anything combustible — including pets and children! — and never leave candles unattended.  Other light-shedding possibilities are oil lamps or lower wattage bulbs translating into lower costs.  Also, a string of clear Christmas lights can provide enough illumination should you need to get up during the night. 


Food is another resource often goes to waste.  Many hungry people the world over can live on what the average American tosses away.  When I was a child in a large family, if the milk was at its expiration date, my mother found a recipe that used sour milk for cake or bread.  If the Brand X peanut butter did not move in my house, my mom would make peanut butter cookies out of it. Vegetables that had lost their crispness were recycled as ingredients for soup.  Stale bread was used for stuffing, bread pudding, croutons, or even French toast.  Italian-American friends of mine use leftover pasta to make “macaroni pies”.  They mix the pasta in a large bowl with whole, beaten eggs, garlic powder, and a little salt and pepper.  Then they turn the mixture into a deep frying pan with some oil until the bottom becomes golden brown and crispy.  Carefully, they will turn the pie and brown the other side.  Once it has cooled down, they sprinkle some grated cheese on top and enjoy a tasty, inexpensive meal. 


Newspapers can be recycled for various purposes. With a little vinegar, they will clean windows streak-free, something that costlier paper towels cannot accomplish. Tightly rolled newspapers will become logs for your fireplace.  During inclement weather, you can use a short stack of newsprint as disposable “welcome mats” for muddy boots; they can also be placed on windshields to deter the frost.  Take a page out of our British brethren’s cookbook and newspapers can blot hot-from-the-oil foods such as Freedom Fries or fried chicken.  If you move to a new address, you can wrap breakables in newspaper, and you can use the papers to cushion fragile items against damage in transit, when mailing packages.  If you are stranded in nasty weather and happen to have the dailies on you, you can insulate yourself against the cold to some degree by putting them under your coat.


Often, we buy products that do not perform to our expectations.  Instead of tossing hair conditioner, ladies can lather up the conditioner with a little water and use it to shave their legs.  Shampoo or dishwashing detergents not up to snuff can be reused to hand wash delicate lingerie or, if the vet approves, to give Fido a bath.  It will even work as hand soap.  And if you’re looking to prolong the life of your dishwashing detergent, recant it from its original squirt-type container into a clean spray bottle instead.  A spritz or two will go a long way on a sink full of dishes, saving you a little money. 


Old clothes in too poor of a condition to give away can be cut up and used as rags with which you can dust the house or wash the car.  If you are “crafty,” you can use the clothes to create a unique quilt filled with wonderful memories, particularly if you are using clothes that your children have outgrown or have been passed down to you from your loved ones.  Unwanted clothing can also double as drop cloths or cleaning up oily messes in the garage.


While it is wonderful to receive handwritten letters, it is much more cost effective to send out emails to friends and family.  Those of us already paying for Internet service don’t have to buy pens, stationery, envelopes, or stamps and emails arrive a lot more quickly than “snail mail”.


Conscript your friends into your money-saving/resource saving plans.  Maybe each of you can subscribe to different magazines and share them.  You might try swapping handbags, jewelry, or clothes, provided you do not travel in the same social circle.  And you can also trade money saving coupons.  Your friends may buy products that you don’t and visa versa.


Don’t be fooled into thinking that shopping at the large warehouse stores will always save you money.  If you have a smaller family and you purchase in bulk, you may buy more that you really need.  Hunting for sales is great, but make sure the items match your family’s needs.  Don’t overstock the pantry with unwanted products just because they are on sale.


Before discarding anything in the junk heap, try thinking outside of the box to see if there might be some more life left in it.  With a little ingenuity, we can protect our natural resources for future generations and make our hard-earned money go a little farther.

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6 Responses to “Waste Not, Want Not”

  1. Office Cleaning New Jersey says:

    Really enjoy this site. Very informative about New Jersey News! Keep up the great work.

  2. Susan says:

    Reuse, repurpose, recycle – it’s good for the earth & makes us actually think about the astounding amount that goes into our ever-expanding landfills. Just because we’re the richest country on earth (for the moment) doesn’t give us the right to waste our riches. The amount of waste we mindlessly generate is morally repugnant and indefensible.

  3. frank says:

    I just don’t digg this…I really don’t.

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