Skip to main content

Why We Should Waste Nothing and Save More

Country and city dwellers can benefit from a compost pile.

Country and city dwellers can benefit from a compost pile.

Clean up your plate. Grandma's No. 1 rule.

Our grandparents lived through the great depression and through times when money was short. We can learn a lot on how to survive this recession by listening to how they handled the hard times that they endured. One of the biggest things that my grandmother drilled into my head was to be less wasteful. She did not tolerate waste in any form. She lived as though she was still in the great depression even when she didn't have to. She peeled a potato so thin you could almost see through the skin. And if you ate at her table you were expected to eat what you put on your plate. People are starving in this world and would be darn happy to have that plate of food you're planning to leave. We have to love them and know they're only trying to keep us from destroying the world as they see it.

A sure trick to keep us cleaning up our plate is to serve our meals on a smaller plate to begin with. Kids are not alone in wasting food so adults can benefit from eating from a smaller plate as well. Those on a diet plan can even have extra benefits by doing so as the smaller plate holds less food. But then nothing is stopping us from filling it up again if we need to.

Don't waste anything that is still good.

If you live in the country or have room for a garden, a compost pile can be started there. All kinds of things can be put in a compost pile as long as it will break down and decay. You can put meat, eggshells, vegetable peelings, and leftover food in the compost pile. Build a wooden box sitting on top of the ground and fill it with this stuff. Be sure to cover it so wild animals or stray dogs and cats don't disturb it. When it's time to till the garden spread the compost over the area and till it into the soil. It will make the soil rich with nutrients getting your garden ready for the plants you plan to grow. So that food grandma wanted you not to waste may have another purpose which doesn't make it sound quit so wasteful. This waste not, want not, rule our elders taught us may work after all.

Too many things end up in landfills without putting things there that could be used by someone. If you can't sell it consider donating it to charity. Either way you win by writing off a tax break or making money selling the item. It cost to dispose of things so you save there as well. And think of our planet and all the waste already causing problems for hundreds of years to come. We all need to start thinking green and we need to start living green.

Stale bread and cereals can be placed out for the wild birds. Newspapers can be shredded to use for mulching vegetable and flower gardens. Shredded newspapers work for storing glass items and protect your shipping items. Opened bottles of water left undrinkable can still be good for watering your house plants. Even if someone leaves a half glass of unsweetened cold tea behind your plants will love it.

If you find your jug of milk in the refrigerator has soured you can still use it to make biscuits or pancakes. Some cookie recipes even call for sour milk. Not wasting it will save money in the long run. If your kids leave a glass of milk half full, don't dump it down the drain, pour it in your compost pile or set it in the refrigerator and offer it to them later or use it in your coffee. Don't waste anything that is still good.

Some things can be used several times over again.

By now you are getting the picture about how being wasteful is costing you money. Some things can be a little over doing it, but most of what I am telling you can be useful to you and our planet. Plastic for instance does not break down nor does it decay. Imagine the plastic in our landfills taking up space for hundreds of years to come. By reusing plastic in other ways or by at least recycling it we can save our planet one piece at a time. Many things are made from plastic. Plastic bags and containers can easily be washed and used for storing something other than the content that came in it to begin with.

Bread bags work well for freezing things like corn on the cob or other vegetables. Even meat can be froze in a bread bag. Be sure the bag is not wrong side out so the coloring is not against your food. Margarine tubs are good freezer containers and can be used for many other purposes. They make a great container for putting dry cereal or something in for the kids to snack on while traveling. And who hasn't saved a coffee can or two to store something in. Metal or plastic coffee cans work great for storing anything from food items to hardware stuff. It's an excellent place to store your craft or sewing supplies. Plastic shopping bags are great to keep on hand to be used over and over for storing items you don't want touching anything else or for toting items leaving your hands free for other things. You can even take them back to the store to refill. Thrift shops around the country love having shopping bags donated to them. Food storage bags can be washed in the dish pan along with your dishes. Once the water has dried the bags can be used again.

Recycle aluminum cans if not in a state where they have a deposit on them. Scrap yards will buy these cans along with other aluminum items, even foil can be recycled. Most any metal can be recycled or sold to scrap yards. Some buy cardboard, paper, and plastic. Their prices change often so sell when the price is up. Some metals are worth more than others. Copper and brass usually is worth more. For areas that don't have a scrap yard it is likely they will have a recycling center. Never send it to the landfill if you can avoid doing so.

Save wisely for the future of you, your family and the world around you.

Save wisely for the future of you, your family and the world around you.

When you save energy you will save money.

We all could take a lesson in reserving energy. From the utilities that power our homes to the gasoline we use excessively for our motor vehicles. Fewer trips to the store save gasoline but that's just the tip of the iceberg for most people. Joy riding has always been a favorite pass time for many folks. Neighbors may even drive their car to visit each other when it is only a short walk away. When we cut down on joy rides we save gasoline which also saves us money. Then there are those who have a strict rule to mow their grass every 5-7 days depending on the weather. I know town people must keep on top of that but country folks do the same thing. Even by changing that routine by a couple of days or so will not only save on gasoline and money but it will give you spare time you could use for something else. I live in the country on a hillside and tend to let my grass go longer than I should before the next trimming but guess that's saving energy more ways than one. My husband use to do most of the yard work that gets done here, but after his passing a few years ago, the chore is left up to me. I'm not that good at it. We must slow down a bit as we age. Take the energy source into consideration with all the rest. Over doing it can lead to health problems that bring you medical bills and distress.

Shut off lights when you're not using them. We don't need every light in the house burning. And buy energy saving light bulbs which may cost more when purchased but they will pay for themselves many times over as you use them. Florescent lights burn less electricity than other kinds and cast a brighter light. Night lights that burn a small bulb use less electricity and often are all the light we need for the task we're doing. Consider burning a night light if you only need to light your way from room to room. I have a battery operated closet light with a hanger on it. I attached it to my bed post for when I need a little light to guide me if I get up in the night to go to the bathroom or get a drink.

Use hot water sparingly. Wash most clothes in cold water because it's less expensive than heating water and most laundry soap today gets clothes clean at any temperature. Never use hot when warm or cold will work. Set the washing time to run longer on heavily soiled fabrics. If you can hang your laundry outside to dry that's another savings. Clothes dryers do not run cheap. In the summer by running your clothes dryer it may make your air conditioner run more costing you even more to stay cool. If items are slightly damp some things can be hung on a hanger to air dry. Why run the dryer longer than needed? In winter months it may make more sense to use the dryer when your house is a little cool saving you having to turn up the furnace. You can keep your heat turned down while doing the laundry and not notice much difference in the room temperatures.

Adjusting your thermostat at a few degrees will make a big cut on your energy bill. By lowering it by just a couple degrees in the winter can make a great difference, five degrees for even more savings. You can always dress a little warmer. In summer, turn it up, just because 65 or 70 feels better to you it will save money by keeping it at 75, you'll still feel comfortable when it's over 90 outside. Whatever the season, avoid opening doors and windows when you have a furnace or air conditioner running. Common sense can save you more money than any tip you'll ever find.

Avoid leaving doors open on refrigerators and freezers so they don't run as much. The more you have in your freezer the better. Not only will you be well stocked but it won't run as much. My grandmother use to place jugs of water and wadded newspapers in her freezer as space became open just so it wouldn't run as much. If the power went out she could be sure her food wouldn't start to thaw before the power came on again. A few years ago my power was out for three days because of a storm. My freezer was packed full of food and not much started to thaw even though it was hot and humid outside. This proved that theory to me.

Scroll to Continue

Waste Not, Want Not

Don't throw a perfectly good carpet away because it is terribly soiled. Today, professional carpet cleaners could make that rug look new again saving you the price of a new one. You could even do it yourself with rental equipment saving you even more hard earned dollars.

If your furniture looks a bit shabby you can give it a new life by investing in stylish slip covers that come in all colors and sizes. Some are more expensive than others so it may make even more sense to compare the price of the slip covers to that of used furniture. But if you really like the furniture you have covering it may be your choice. It would also save you trucking the used furniture to your location and disposing of your old one. Furniture is costly to buy new.

With the economy the way it is today we should be just as thrifty as our grandparents were during the depression. A recession can be just as draining on our financial burdens and our well being as the great depression was. We should fix things that can be repaired; mend torn clothing, reset buttons on, and try to get by with what we have just as they did. This is a different world today but many of the same problems still exist. Waste not, want not, was a well practiced theory for people living during the depression. It should be well practiced still yet today. People that have nothing don't waste things. If they do they will always have nothing.

Why We Should Shop Smart


Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on February 01, 2020:

Thank you, Authur Russ for reading my hub. It sounds like you are very thrifty. It is a good way to be.

Arthur Russ from England on January 30, 2020:

Yep, my sentiments exactly: I grow all my own vegetables organically in our back garden, nourishing the soil from the compost heap made from all the garden and kitchen waste. And being a DIY enthusiast I like to recycle salvaged and scrap wood, and up-cycle old furniture, rather than buying new.

Waste Not, Want Not is one of my common phrases; and it largely stems from my grandparents days of ‘Make Do and Mend’, which was so critical in war torn Europe and in the aftermath of the 2nd world war.

Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on August 11, 2013:

Thank you, rose-the-planner for the nice compliment.

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on August 11, 2013:

Excellent article! Everyone should follow all of these great tips that you have provided. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on August 10, 2013:

Thank you for your kind comment, Anna Haven. I so do appreciate it.

Thank you, pstraubie48 for adding yet another thrifty tip. Hot water does take a lot of energy.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 10, 2013:

Such simple suggestions that we all should be following to save money and save our planet. One thing I do that is a bit of a pain is turn off my hot water heater when I do not need it which is 98 percent of the day. It has a timer on it but I just turn it off...that works for me; and when I turn it on, it only takes a few minutes to heat the water.

My electric bill is so low that now one can believe it. I also do many of the things you mentioned....unplugging unused lights and all is helpful too....

Thanks for sharing...Grandma was right!!!

Angels are on the way shared

Anna Haven from Scotland on August 10, 2013:

A useful hub with good ideas. Voted up.

Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on August 10, 2013:

Thanks, markdarmafall. I'v known some very budget minded people over the years and some did it to make end meet while others used it as a savings plan.

Mark from Moundsville,WV on August 10, 2013:

There was a lot of useful information here. Some we already apply in our lives but there was some that I never imagined. Thanks for all the insightful information. Finding new ways to save is a blessing.


Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on August 09, 2013:

Thank you, moonlake and Jackie. I appreciate your input. I don't get quite as thrifty as Grandma did, but I try.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 09, 2013:

Good rules and I go by most of them. My grandmother was the same way although as long as I knew her she was very well off. Of course that was after the birth of 13 children getting married at age 15 and the death of six children as babies, so I imagine my grandfather was a long time getting her to have everything she could want. Very interesting. ^

moonlake from America on August 09, 2013:

One of the things I do is save the juice from corn, green beans and even olives to make soup or to put in other dishes I cook. I made soup last week with left over corn cobs I put them in the slow cooker to get the flavor out, later took them out and added the other ingredients. Voted up on your hub.

Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on August 09, 2013:

Thank you, Georgie. I appreciate your kind remarks.

Georgie Lowery from North Florida on August 09, 2013:

Truth. All of it is true. The older I've gotten (and the more my budget has shrunk) the more conscious I am of where every penny I spend is going. I didn't used to care about throwing away food or anything, really, but now I'm hyper aware of what's going in my trash and I've gotten good at coming up with uses for stuff that I might have previously thrown away.

All good info here. Voted up and shared!

Related Articles