In some ways, I am like one of the little Jewish grandmothers who cluster in the lobby of my apartment building between the hours of 10:30 am and 2:45 pm, chatting with each other while their walkers are parked a respectable 2 feet away. I squirrel away the green rubber bands that Whole Foods wraps around containers of cut melon, 1/2 dozen and dozen egg cartons and plastic boxes of carefully chosen salad bar options.
I have a brown lunch-sized paper bag under the kitchen sink that holds reusable cellophane produce bags. Garbage is gathered in used plastic CVS bags, legs of laddered stockings corral the lint from my dryer hose and twist-ties always live to see another day. I pick up every penny I pass on the street and I flip through the cast-off magazines in the recycling room for ones I haven’t read.
I can’t roast a chicken without turning the carcass into soup (celery leaves and Israeli couscous make a nice addition in the finished product) and I served the same bowl of roasted potatoes twice last week to two different groups of guests. I sometimes drink reheated day-old coffee and just tonight I finished off a three-year-old bottle of sweet chili hot sauce. It’s now soaking in water, so that I can reuse the container for salad dressing someday.
However, I’m not always insanely frugal. I spent nearly $50 on handmade soap last week (I did have a gift certificate, though) and if I had saved the money I’ve spend on pens in my lifetime, I’d be able to feed a small nation for a good month. I subscribe daily to two newspapers and I can’t stop buying books.
But, there are some moments, when I feel a little out of step with the rest of my generation. I think that maybe the best thing I could do would be to sidle up to the circle of bubbes in the lobby and nod my head with understanding when they say, “Kids today, they just don’t understand how to get the most out of a good brisket.”
As I read this post I was sipping on a cup of coffee that I had brewed yesterday and reheated in the microwave this morning.
You said I should read your blog, and since that is a great way to avoid doing work, of course I did. I’d show you my cardboard tube collection and my cardboard-backs-of-pads-of-paper-pile, but they are at school. I have more rubber bands than I will ever use. However, I have found that when I have too many plastic bags for the amount of trash I produce, the grocery store will actually take them back (they have a bin outside the door where you can put them).
Thank you for writing a blog!
I knew when I met you that e were kindred spirits. How many twist ties and plastic bread wrapper closures are too many? Is there such a thing? You never know when you’re gonna need that rubber band that came on the green onions! If only scotch tape could be reused, I’d be in reduce, reuse, recycle heaven.
My two grandmothers seem to battle for possesion of my soul. My paternal grandma reused the foil trays from store-bought rolls until the bottoms were too perferated with knife cuts to hold the kuchen batter. It is amazing how many uses there are for plastic gallon milk jugs on a farm. When she died my parents threw out stacks of styrofoam butcher trays, used tin foil, and rubberbands so old they crumbled. My mother kept the flour sacks and buttons. (Side note, I have a necklace my grandmother made by taking a hole punch to the butcher trays and stringing them as beads.)
My maternal grandmother didn’t keep much of anything. They had accumulated very little in the house they lived in for fifty years. When I was in high school they scandalized the family by throwing out decades of slides. They didn’t tell anyone until after. My mom was very angry.
I’m dominately a collector/hoarder, but I also feel incredibly relieved when I leave a huge pickup for AmVets on the front stoop.
That said, if a shirt simply cannot be rescued and isn’t suitable for donation, I can’t bear to throw it away until I’ve cut off the buttons.
It is always nice to know that there are so many others like me out there!
Pax, it warms the cockles of my heart to hear that!
Fran, how exactly do you use those items in a physics classroom?
Sherry, there now make scotch tape with post it note glue, you could reuse to your heart’s content.
Dodi, I totally feel that tension. I have ten grocery bags filled with castoff clothes and books hovering around my front door, waiting to be taken across the street to the resale shop, which is run, oddly enough, by little Jewish grandmothers.
My mother would love you, she always cuts the buttons off before tossing the shirt. Sometimes, she’ll even buy a shirt at the thrift store, with the sole intention of stripping it of its buttons to fix some other garment.
(1) paper towel tubes can be used to demonstrate sound resonance (put it over your ear) or pinhole lens: put two snugly-fitting tubes together. One should have a piece of foil on one end, and the other should have a piece of plastic grocery bag over one end. Slide the covered ends together with the foil one on the outside. Poke a small hole in the foil with a pin. Then look through the open end. Slide the tubes relative to each other until you see a sharp picture! Or, cut the tubes into 2-inch segments, make a v-shaped cut in one end, and use as a support for a D-cell powered simple homemade motor. Really big tubes (mailing tubes, carpet tubes, etc) can be used for a lab to find the distance between the earth and the sun.
(2) The cardboard backs of pads of paper have been mostly used for making a nice flat surface for an ultrasonic motion sensor to detect, or they can be cut up to make equatorial sundials. Sometimes I also cut them in half the long way, punch holes in them, and then use them in my three-ring binders as dividers or “paper lifters.”
You would think with all these uses that I would barely “break even” or even have a dwindling supply…but usually my supply seems to increase every year.