Waste Not, Want Not…

The title for this piece, “Waste Not, Want Not, is an old proverb dating back to 1872 and found in “Under the Greenwood Tree” by Thomas Hardy.  The idiomatic expression is noted as, “If one is not wasteful then one will not be needy”.  In a later writing (1910) by Edith Nesbit in “The Magic City” we find the following usage, “They take the cocoa-nut@s to the town kitchen”, said the captain, “to be made into cocoa-nut ice for the army breakfast; waste not want not, you know.”

The phrase, Waste Not, Want Not is seemingly simplistic and practical.  In the days when goods and services were less abundant it was natural for one to be frugal, resourceful and not wasteful.  Although, in the 21st century, Americans have become much more affluent with ample access to food and goods.  Well, perhaps it’s time to once again take stock in this earlier saying.   Quite frankly, I believe it has greater significance now than it did in 1872.  It embodies the essence of recycling as something important for us to consider in everyday life.

I have recycled the typical home-waste products (newspaper, glass, plastic, food scraps, metal, etc.) for almost 45 years.  We must rethink our role as a consumer of stuff and come to grips with being better stewards of our planet.

Although recycling alone is a critical effort toward the protection of our environment it seems that a more wholistic approach is in order.  Yes, I know this isn’t a new concept, but I believe that I may have something to add to this important environmental topic.  Evaluating what, how and why we consume goods is equally as important.  That’s where the rethink component comes into play.

When it became possible to recycle plastic bags, I promptly began to store all our veggie and grocery plastic bags in a blue recycling bag.  I was amazed at the quantity of plastic used by only two adults!!  During a period of two-years, we filled approximately 1 dozen blue recycling bags which were taken to Walmart’s drop off zone for plastic bag recycling.

If I hadn’t started recycling plastic bags, I probably would have never come to the realization that by doing so would make a difference toward the protection of our environment.  Take my lead here and begin stuffing a blue bag today.  I promise that you’ll be surprised at how much plastic you’ve been discarding to the landfill!

The second thing that occurred to me is the way in which I think about recycling, so I began to reconsider a more closed loop approach.  I understand that I have not created something new and am perhaps only borrowing other’s ideas, regardless, it’s a topic worth speaking about since the pollution of our environment effects every living organism on the planet.


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