Elizabeth Willis Barrett
I don’t know if my title’s adage has been proven to be true, but I know that I hate to waste anything. I got this trait from very conservative parents. My Dad took some Boy Scouts on a campout and one of the boys swore that my dad would have had him save his spit. I’m sure Dad didn’t go that far, but he did not like people to be wasteful, especially little annoying Boy Scouts. When my parents would go out to eat with that boy’s parents, Dad would comment on how wasteful the boy’s mother was because she would leave so much food on her plate. He wondered why she would order so much in the first place only to let it go to waste. Waste rankled him.
It rankles me, too. No matter how much I ever have, and I am lucky enough at the moment to have enough, I never want to be wasteful. I think all our resources should be governed well and used conservatively.
Unfortunately, in an effort to not be wasteful, I save. And I save things much too long.
Sometimes I save them for some perfect future event which, of course, never comes. When I was in grade school, someone gave me a jar full of fancy soaps. I kept them in the bathroom and no one ever used them. I was saving them for just the right use. Guests maybe? Anyway, that pretty jar of pink oval soap sat on the back of the toilet in the upstairs bathroom for years. If the house hadn’t been sold and literally moved away, they’d be there still.
I hang on to toothpaste tubes until I have squeezed the very last fraction of toothpaste out–probably a penny’s worth which could hardly pay for the Herculean effort to extract it. I rest near empty shampoo bottles upside down to gather what’s left and then add a little water to get the last dredges. You can get at least two more uses out of the bottle that way. I wrap up leftover tidbits from Sunday dinner and cram them in the freezer to spend time with last month’s bounty and once day-old bread. Someday we’ll be glad to have chicken cacciatore again. I hope.
There are many things in my closet that I should let pass on to more accommodating owners. But it seems quite wasteful to get rid of things that still have price tags even though it has been two years since I gleaned them at some fantastic Macy’s sale. I just might find something to go with that unattractive top if I hang on to it a little longer.
I don’t like to throw puzzles away if there is a slight chance that the missing piece will be found or discard the five single socks that must have mates somewhere around the house. I hang on to music that I’ve never sung or played because someone gave it to me and I don’t want to waste their thoughtfulness.
I file away articles I will probably never read and recipes that haven’t made it to a dinner plate because I don’t want to waste the time some teacher took to run them off for me or the paper on which they were run. Silly, I know. But I feel I owe it to a hard working instructor to hold on to her handouts for a while anyway.
As far as purchases go, I have made a great attempt to be more discerning before I pull out my credit card to be swiped. It’s obviously much wiser and less wasteful to not bring things home at all if they’re just going to be thrown out within a month.
The wasting of time is another squandering that puts me into a frantic internal realm of rebellion, but I’ve already written much on that and will continue to do so.
For now, all this talk of saving is getting to me. Excuse me while I go clean out the files and make a pile of clothes to go to Goodwill!