Did you know that as of 2006, the 2.6 trillion pounds of trash were accumulated in a single year by our planet? The most fascinating aspect about this number is that 46% of it (almost half) was organic waste. What is organic waste? Organic waste consists of natural waste, things that originate from the earth. (See here.) Some examples would be food, paper, and grass trimmings from your lawn.
Leftovers. Leftover food. Leftover jars. Leftover material. I have lost count of how many cans of food I have opened up, used a couple of ounces because that is what the recipe called for, and thrown the rest away. So many times I have made a casserole dish, and thrown half of it away because I didn’t finish the rest. I remember all those times I bought a beautiful jar of peanut butter, finished it, and tossed it out. Then I went and purchased a brand new jar to store my craft buttons. I have even bought a whole sprig of parsley, used a couple of leaves, and thrown the rest away. What a waste of not only food but of money.
My dear G-Mom, on the other hand, who remembers the era of the Great Depression, reuses everything. She uses trash bags from her shopping runs for the trash. She saves jars and every coupon under the sun. She freezes leftovers. She and her best friend even send the same birthday card to each other. They write a different greeting every time, but it is the same card. They have done this since she was married, for 70+ years.
My main obstacle for years with attempting the “Don’t Trash…Do Save” is time. As an educator, I just don’t have the time nor energy when I get home from work to put lots of time towards saving everything. But then there are times where I want to feel the superpower of creatively reusing items or saving leftovers, and why? Because it can save my bank account. I have wasted countless dollars by allowing leftovers, such luxurious items like steaks and pot roast, and expensive meats, to sit in the fridge until they are covered with mold and then tossing them out. (Hiding my face.)
My recent challenge has been to try to cut my waste and juggle a busy schedule, a seemingly impossible task. Having survived the “Don’t Trash…Do Save” gauntlet, I am here to tell you that it can be done! Your schedule may be so busy (like mine) that you can’t accomplish it all the time, but attempting to implement at least one of these goals a week is a great way to start incorporating it into your life.
Some ways that I have been able to implement “Don’t Trash…Do Save.”
Freeze leftovers instead of throwing them away.
Examples: I had made some chicken, vegetables, and seasonings for a chicken pot pie in the slow cooker. I pulled the chicken off of the bone, used it for my chicken pot pie recipe. Then I strained the broth to separate the chicken bones from the liquid, and after letting it cool, poured it into a freezer bag. Next time I need some chicken stock, I don’t have to spend $1.48 for it, I already have some. It didn’t take more than 10 seconds. I prepared a delicious scalloped potatoes and ham recipe, and had half a dish of leftovers. Normally I would just toss it into the trash. This time I didn’t. Some night when I don’t feel like cooking–I have something I can thaw out, pop onto the stove, and heat up. Freeze old bananas, and use them later for smoothies or for banana bread.
Beware, there are ways of freezing your food properly so it doesn’t taste freezer burnt. Cooking Light has a great article here on how to do exactly that.
Save items for other purposes. For example, save your glass jars for storage. This again, can take only a couple of
minutes. When I finish with a jar, I rinse it off along with my other dishes. Then it goes right into the dishwasher with my other dishes. They make handy storage pieces. When I have some time, I will make some cute labels out of a chalkboard roll, but I just don’t have time right now. A cute little lemonade glass jar has now
become a permanent home for my upholstery tacks for DIY projects.
Fertilizer your grass, garden, or flower pots, with leftovers. Egg shells are great fertilizer for your plants. They provide your plants much needed calcium. Apparently, the deer also do not enjoy them and they can function as pest control. (Gardening 101: How to Use Eggshells in the Garden.) I have a special tin bucket in my kitchen for all of my “fertilizer” scraps. When I’m cooking, everything I want to save to enrich the soil goes into that bucket instead of the trash. Then I take that bucket out and throw it onto my compost pile. Easy as 1-2-3. I don’t have time for much else. Even if you don’t garden, your flower pots might reward you for the much needed calcium boost with an extra bloom. I have also added rotten spinach and other moldy vegetables to the pile.
Dry your herbs for later use instead of using a few leaves and tossing the rest. How? Spread the herbs on a cookie sheet. Turn the oven on low and cook them for a few hours. When the leaves fall to pieces you now have tried herbs. Store them in a reused glass “peanut butter” jar. For more specific directions, look here.
Use cloth instead of paper. My mom did this when I was young. As a kid, I can’t ever remember us buying paper napkins, except for when company came over. We used cloth napkins and Mom threw them into the wash along with some bleach. All of her six babies also wore cloth diapers with the big safety pins to keep them on. Oh, and she never used a plastic tablecloth, she threw on a 100% cotton tablecloth over the table and then dumped it into the wash when it became too dirty.
Transform your ripped jeans into summer clothes. Ever had brand new jeans ripped on the knees?? I have. I remember once I bought a brand new pair, tripped gracefully on my work parking lot the very next day, and ripped a hole right into the new pair. Ouch! Transforming jeans is so easy that even I, who knows nothing about sewing, could convert them into a pair of comfy shorts to wear around the house in no time at all. Click here to access another Youtuber’s DIY on 3 magical ways to make that transformation. You can make them any length that makes you feel comfortable.
Use a reusable lunchbox and think ahead for your work lunches. On Sunday afternoons, my sister pulls out the pan and makes her lunches for the following week. She has celiac disease, so she has no choice, she has to watch her diet. She also is saving money in the process. Packing a tasty sandwich with bread, bologna, pastrami, and cheese along with a pack of chips every day can be cheaper than spending $7-$10 for a single person’s lunch everyday. If you are a couple and you are both working, and you each go out for your lunch, assuming you each spend $7, that is $14 an average a day. If you work 5 days a week that is $70 a week, and $280 a month…simply on lunch alone.
Only buy what you need. Sometimes I buy 2 loaves of bread, when I only needed to buy 1. Many times I over purchase on my vegetables. I used to think it didn’t matter…but somehow the pennies and dollars add up super fast. Now I try to be super careful to only buy it if I will use it.
Before you toss it into the trash, think twice. You may be able to use your creative juices and reuse it and create a magical save. Not just a save of your money, but a save for our world as well!
As always, I enjoy reading your comments. You have so many valuable things to say. Time is precious for each one of us and yet you take the time to leave a comment. Thank ya’ll for that!!
Happy saving to ya’ll!!
FTC: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.