Gathering the straws of life together

Waste not want not!

Waste not want not!

Waste not want not is a saying that dates back to 1772. There are two meanings. The first is “do not waste as you might need it in the future”. Secondly, the “less we waste the less we will lack in the future”.

It is in vogue to be waste conscious, to be environmentally friendly. And so, it should be. But this is nothing new! When I was growing up we reused things, we recycled and reduced our waste. Milk came in a bottle on our doorstep. Flour bought from the corner store came in a brown paper bag. Newspaper was recycled via the outside toilet.

As a family we would often take a Sunday drive and go to the “dump”. It was the place we would take our waste. We would do it ourselves. We did not rely on the council to pick it up from our front door. Further, when at the “dump” we would look around for treasure in another person’s trash. Now someone else is paid to do this and then we must pay to buy another’s trash, now repurposed as treasure. Waste has become very organised. When you turn up at the waste management facility there are very clear directions of where to go and what to do! Such as, follow the green arrow for green waste, take another arrow for cardboard etc.

My “One & Only” (O&O) has a great mindset about “waste not want not”. He grew up in Ireland and as one of six children they were taught not to be wasteful. His father grew vegetables, heaps of potatoes, and kept chickens for eggs and Sunday roasts. My O&O’s father did this to keep the family well fed and healthy but also to make the weekly pay go further. Therefore, there was very little waste. Meals were made from scratch and cooked over an open fire. The same heat from the fire that dried clothes on a cold winter’s day (just like we are doing today with our combustion wood fire).

Having the right mindset about waste my O&O has shelves full of treasure in his workshop. One thing I have learnt over the years that so much of what he has kept has been used by us later e.g. timber for the chicken coop modification. Then there are times he will want to give something away that we no longer have a use for. I tell him, no one will want that and most of the time I am right! This has come about due to our consumer approach, always buying something new and throwing out the old. Am I any different?

This is our recycle waste for a few days! Note the Indian Style Butter Chicken meal bought in a box. It was a “taste test” to see what the meal was like. A possible meal for my mother who will be 92 years old in a few weeks. She can’t manage cooking every night. It was surprisingly good, bought from Aldi for less than $3. My O&O and I shared it for lunch. Then there was a little wine one evening, or was that two – to make the heart rejoice!

But now we are all being challenged to think differently and behave differently. No more plastic single use bags. There is even concern that people will abuse retail staff if they don’t provide them with a plastic bag (free of charge). The attitude is all about me, my needs, my wants, and I want a plastic bag now! There are some people who just don’t care about the environment, the pollution, and what we are doing to our waterways and oceans.

Last Saturday I read an interesting article in the Courier-Mail QWeekend Magazine (story Elissa Lawrence). It was about families who are “zero” waste supporters. There was a great photo of the Carter family (parents and three children) from Hobart, Tasmania. They had two years of waste in a 700ml bottle (three-quarters full)! How do they do it? They buy food in bulk and use reusable bags. Their milk comes from a nearby dairy in returnable glass bottles. Paper or cardboard is used in the garden or fireplace. They shop at farmer’s markets, go fruit picking together as a family and have chickens.

Our glass bottle is empty, none of our waste will fit in the bottle!

It will be a while before we have just a bottle of waste after a few years. In the past few days we have accumulated containers, cardboard, tins and an egg carton. We have had to buy eggs! Our two chickens Golda and Melba have been with us for four months but have not laid yet. Lucy is taking a break while she gets over her moult and Carmella is our only reliable egg layer. We have our citrus trees, passionfruit vines x 2 and a mulberry tree. We are trying to do our part, but it takes time and a change of habits. How about you? Any chance you might be able to fit two years of waste in a glass bottle?



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