Today is Earth Day, and where most of the world chooses to focus on recycling and global warming today, I am focusing on something much, much more important.
My great-grandmother used to say to me, "Red, use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. That's the way we did it during the Depression, and that's the way you should do it now. Any other way is wasteful and does a disservice to your family and neighbors."
Growing up, that's exactly what we did. My great-grandmother was big on finding deals and discounts, using something until it was dead, and extending the life and quality of the things we already have. This, of course, was from back before being "Green" was in style, before global warming was even on our social radar, and before people thought frugality was just a fad.
It was sometimes amazing to hear her stories about a time that was simpler, a time where community was so much stronger, and a time that money wasn't everything. She lived simply even in her old age when money was more plentiful and she could do more than play Bridge with her friends or go down to the Bingo Hall.
Sadly, my great-grandmother is no longer with us today, but every Earth Day, instead of rolling my eyes at the harping on recycling or buying into the "Green" products that stores are touting, I think about what I could do to live more simply. What could I use up? What could I wear out? How can I make do? Can I do without that XYZ item at the store?
Many don't know this about me here on the Rain, but in my off-time, I'm also a Frugality Blogger. I teach classes to those who want to live a simpler life, to those who either want or need to make do for a while. I run articles at least three times a week about how to simplify. What's my point? My point is that I'm not trying to talk out of my *** here, but to pass on a very valuable lesson from my dear ol' great-granny and those days so long ago where they didn't have the choice to follow this advice.
Here's some simple things you can do to simplify today, and every day:
1. Instead of running to the store (wasting time, gas, and money) for one ingredient, find something to substitute in your meal. Use AllRecipes.com's ingredient search to try a new recipe, or if you're brave enough, swap your asparagus for the broccoli that will die a horrid death in three days.
2. If you have barely used clothing that is still in style or that you love, but it's a size too big or too small, learn how to sew. For those of you who aren't handy, invest in a tailor; generally, alterations are much less costly than new clothes, and you're not tossing perfectly good clothing into the black hole that is Goodwill.
3. If you're out of shaving cream, use conditioner (this is one of my favorites!). Use lemon and baking soda to clean wooden cutting boards. Vinegar and water cuts grease in the kitchen (especially that awful black stuff that comes from cooking there for a year)!
4. Use used dryer sheets to dust off electronics. They're soft enough for the screen (after use) and they eliminate that awful static cling that attracts dust!
5. Use those single lost-mate socks to help clean up spills on the rug. You're not going to wear them anyway, so spray your spot cleaner on the spot, pull the sock over your fist, and use twisting motions to sop the stain right out!
The main lesson here is to really think about what you're throwing out, donating, giving away, or leaving behind: Can you repurpose it? Can you substitute something else in its place? Can you use it up before you have to throw it away?
Happy Earth Day 2009, everyone! Here's looking forward to a simpler life.
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