Are We Too Wasteful?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Adam's Apple, Jan 26, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    The ‘Making Do’ Mindset
    By Mary Hunt
    January 26, 2005

    http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | I had a frugality wake-up call recently — something I need from time to time. It's so easy to get lazy in a country where we're surrounded by abundance and a seemingly endless supply of everything.

    On the morning of our big annual holiday dinner party, I had limited time and many things to do to get ready for the big event. My to-do list included "clean the patio chairs" — we would undoubtedly need them for additional seating. I wanted them sparkling clean and presentable, and the chairs had been out during several recent rainstorms and they showed it. I grabbed my supplies only to discover I had just one roll of paper towels and it was partly used. This would be a three-roll job at the very least. I'm too busy to carefully count out one or two towels. My style is to spin off a big wad.

    Normally, this shortage would have sent me on a quick trip to the store to replenish my supply. But, as you may recall from previous columns, I don't have my own car. I live in automobile-dependent Southern California and I share a car with my husband by choice. On this day, he was at the office and I wasn't. I did not have time to walk to the nearest store so I decided to go with the only choice I had at the moment: Make do.

    I carefully tore off three towels. I scrubbed and cleaned. Then instead of tossing those wet towels in the trash (my first inclination), I opened them up, straightened them out and cleaned some more. At first I was irritated that I had to do this, but it didn't take long to turn this into a game to see how long I could make the towels last. I worked my way through the chairs and ended up with clean white chairs and towels on the roll to spare. I was downright proud of myself.

    My experience with the paper towels made me think: What if I approached everything with the same concern? Would the milk last longer? Would I measure the laundry soap instead of "eyeballing" it? Would I be more careful with errands if gasoline was scarce? Would I be careful to wear an apron in the kitchen? What if this was the only tube of toothpaste for the foreseeable future? Could I make it last? Would I throw away half a pot of cold coffee or freeze it in ice cube trays for later?

    Would I use the tea bag to make two or three cups of tea, as if tea was in short supply? How long could I make other things last — items that seem so ordinary and available it's easy to be wasteful?

    How long could you make things last — not because you have to, but because it's just the right thing to do? It's good for the Earth, for your attitude and good for your wallet, too.
     

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