Soakin’ Up the Sun and other ‘Little Things’
August 27, 2012, 8:36 PM
Filed under: Food Waste, Frugality | Tags:

I enjoy being frugal, because it allows me to live a better lifestyle than I might afford otherwise, and I ain’t ashamed to say it. I was taught the concept of frugality by my mom-a master- who was a product of the Great Depression. She was taught how to live well on less by my grandmother. I read a piece just the other day that said that during the war years when everything from sugar to milk was rationed, that frugality became such an accepted way of life that once the war was over, folks remained extremely frugal for many years afterwards (my own third generation story is proof of that).  Near starvation, or doing without a lot of things, will do that to you I guess. These days  I’m convinced that our economy will never fully recover (regardless of who’s President), jobs won’t ever be as plentiful and energy supplies  are becoming scarcer and more expensive each passing day. Faced with those beliefs, frugality just makes good sense for me and mine. Here’s a few examples from today:

I cooked tonight’s dinner in my solar cooker this afternoon- Red Lentils with Curried Cabbage- and it cooked in an hour and a half, just 15 minutes longer than the recipe called for to get the lentils tender. I like knowing my electric meter doesn’t spin when I use the cooker, which saves me money, and offers me a bit of comfort knowing that I’m not using finite resources when I use it. Another  advantage to cooking in it is that by becoming handy with it during good times will help me know how to keep good meals on the table in the event of an extended power outage – Hellooo Isaac!

While supper soaked up some rays in the backyard, I spray-painted an old file cabinet out on the front porch. The cabinet is now living-room worthy, and the paint job was free, thanks to the can of paint I picked up at the Washington County Neighborhood Convenience Center’s ‘paint room’. Check it out:

Another example of frugality I employed during my all expense paid trip this past weekend to Breaks Interstate Park (that I won by simply entering my name and crossing my fingers) was to bring home the little hotel bars of soap that we used only once each night. I know the hotel maids are instructed to throw any opened bars away anyway, so why waste them? There’s enough soap to use in our showers for at least this whole week-and fancy French Milled soaps too, a far cry from my homemade bars made of saved slivers. If you stay in a motel, do you just leave the leftover bar on the sink, or do you bring it home? Knowing it will be thrown away makes that a moral and frugal choice for me, and I thought about that as I soaped up this morning in the shower.

Michael and I are getting ready to walk to the public library, where no doubt we’ll find some books and DVD’s to check out, and on the way may stop at the Salvation Army Thrift Store to see if they have any khaki shorts for him. From what we eat, to what we wear, to the choices we make for our home and life, being frugal allows us to live that richer, fuller lifestyle I’m always going on about. I know many folks that always seem to be struggling with their finances, even though I know they have a much larger income than we do (that’s not saying much however)  ;).  I guess it’s more than just frugality for me; a lot of it has to do with mindset.  I enjoy the challenges of ‘using up, wearing out, making do or doing without’, but  I LOVE the security that comes from paying cash and having savings. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is worth having if it means losing that.  As we learn to transition to a lower-energy, lower-resource world, I believe all those little things we do-whether it’s fixing a  drip or repairing your bike, making a quilt from scraps or a meal from scratch- CAN make a difference in meeting our daily needs.

I’ll finish with an example of EXTREME frugality-it’s called Dumpster Diving and I want to show you a picture that a local student took recently of his haul after one evening’s diving excursion behind a local Johnson City market! Buckets and bags of produce, bakery items, grains and vegetables-it looks like enough to feed a family for a week! The waste blows my mind, but so does the act of dumpster diving, although if I was truly hungry, I’m sure I’d dive right in too…

What are your feelings about such an extreme sport? What do you do to practice frugality?


2 Comments so far
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Did you make your solar cooker? Do you have any info on the design or construction? Sounds pretty practical.
I do have doubts about dumpster diving, but we should be doing something more sustainable about food waste. Restaurants especially suck at getting rid of excess/leftover food. If the government wanted to do some good (and I mean government at all levels) they could provide income for folks who went to pick up leftover food to use sensibly, incentive-ize creative solutions (like worm composting projects, animal feed projects…) and provide a small boost for restaurants willing to be inconvenienced by separating (and training their staff to separate) food waste from cardboard, from aluminum, from…
I know some municipalities have gone so far as to promote restaurants that join recycling efforts as restaurants that are working to reduce their carbon foot print. Can we do this here? Eliz

Comment by Elizabeth Malayter

I’m in a hurry Eliz, but here’s a link to Solar Cooking International’s website where I purchased my HOTPOT. Will write more later:

Comment by simpleintn

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