Little Things

I’m lucky (I realize that now) that I grew up with a frugal mother and grandmother to learn from, and their lessons have certainly stuck with me to the point that not being wasteful is just second nature. I consider it fun to see how much I can save, whether it’s food,  money,  gasoline or shampoo, so I never  feel deprived doing these things.  And it’s the doing that enables me to live well on less.  I sincerely believe that a depression/transition/ recession like my generation has never seen is on the horizon, one that will change our ‘American Way of Life’ permanently. That’s  why I write this blog, to help me sort this sometimes scary future out in my head, and to hopefully share ideas that will allow all of us to weather whatever our collective future may hold, all the while enjoying all that life has to offer.

That said, people are often intimidated by the feeling that if they can’t do a job perfectly, they won’t even try, and even though I’ve suffered from that myself, I’m also realizing that just because I’m not a purist vegetarian, or just because I’m not a perfect organic gardener, I can’t let those things get in the way of trying. Because I DO believe that little things DO add up. With almost 315 million people in the US alone, those little things can amount to HUGE differences! So, I was just trying to observe some of the little things I might do on any given day that either save my family time, money or energy. The observation itself was an eye opener, because, like I said, I’ve been doing ‘the little things’ for so long now that I was no longer really aware of them.

So, here, in no particular order, are my observations thus far today:

1. Here’s the ‘disposable’ eye shadow brush that fell apart in my hands this morning:

With just a drop of Elmer’s glue, it became reusable:

2. The napkin I laid it on to take the picture came from our supper last night…we had walked to the corner restaurant “Wok and Hibachi” where I ordered Sweet ‘n Sour Shrimp (aren’t shrimps kinda like a vegetable?) It was more than I could eat, so of course, I asked for a to-go box to bring home the leftovers in. Now that I know how big their servings are, in the future, I’ll bring my own ‘to- go box’ with me. (see? not perfect)

Anyway, the napkin had gone unused, and I knew they’d throw it away when we left our table, so I brought it home to add to my assorted paper napkins that always come home with me if they’re clean. We use cloth napkins for at-home meals, but the paper ones come in handy for little clean up jobs or to lay my donut kale chips on when I’m snacking. Anyway, I digress…

3. This morning we shopped at the Farmer’s Market, and I actually remembered to bring my tote bags. Tonight’s supper will be the local, late corn on the cob and tomatoes, along with the baby beets  and sourdough bread we bought, as well as that leftover box of rice, veggies and shrimp from last night and a side of soup beans that were left over from another meal. It’s a balanced meal, and a perfect dinner for two, with very little actual cooking on my part. Gardening has certainly given me a better appreciation for what it takes to grow good food, as well as how much better it tastes than processed stuff, and eating a plant based diet helps us stay healthier too, while keeping our food wastes and costs  low.

4. From the market  we went to a brunch at the JC Senior Center, where they were giving an informational program on all the cool things the center has to offer for its’ members. As new members  we got to eat free, and we ran into a couple and another friend we were already acquainted with, so we felt comfortable in that strange, new setting, and I think they felt the same way. From learning to play the dulcimer to hiking, from zumba to clay sculpture, the center offers regular classes, many of them also free. We ate our regular breakfast here at home, then went to the brunch where we enjoyed slices of breakfast pizza, fruit cups, yogurt with granola topping and cookies. That was our lunch, enabling us to save those leftovers for supper tonight. And yes, the remaining  paper napkins that we didn’t use were brought home rather than being thrown away. Is that being cheap? Call it what you will, I call it frugal and smart.

5. Speaking of frugal and smart…have you heard about FREECYCLING?  It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Here’s the link for the national network. You can find a group in your area from there:  http://groups.freecycle.org   Freecycling embraces all the elements of living on less and transitioning to a lower energy world that I value. Yesterday I asked if anyone in the JC group had any full size sheets, and I got 3 offers! I recently gave away a truck load of leftover yard sale items that I didn’t want to deal with, so it works both ways obviously.I’ve learned to go to Freecycle first for many of my  needs, saving myself lots of money and keeping stuff out of the landFULL!

6. OK, last observation for today. We’ve been practicing flushing less for years now. The old adage “If it’s brown, flush it down. If it’s yellow, let it mellow” is good advice. Older toilets can use up to 5 gallons per flush! Even though the new toilets in our home are water savers, using only a quart or so, we’re still not finding it necessary to flush every.single.time. Futurists predict we’ll be fighting wars over water instead of oil before long, but learning to incorporate water (and energy!) saving into your daily life long before it’s mandated will make the transition all the more easier if that does happen and will lower your water bills in the meantime. Flow restrictors, rain barrels, gray water systems and common sense things like only running the dishwasher or washing machine when full can all help lower your water consumption with no decrease in lifestyle satisfaction. Color me cheap if you want, I still say the little things we do, all day, every day, make a difference in our wallets, our lives and the world.

2 Comments so far
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I do these things and I don’t consider myself cheap at all. Saving water, taking a dish to the restaurant for leftovers, bringing home the napkins (I can’t believe some of them…some are so hefty you can put them through the washer & dryer). Reduce trash and save resources. We ALL NEED to be doing these things!

Comment by Cassa

Great article Sam! I’m there too.

Comment by Deanna Richardson

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