When I was growing up in the 50s, I was one of five children born 18 months to 2 years apart. My mom was under huge pressure to keep us clothed and fed and as I grew up, I learned some very valuable lessons in living frugally. She had grown up in the Depression and then the war came and she had to re-use and recycle just about everything. To mention just a few things:
My mom used to keep paper bags, carefully folded once she’d unpacked their contents. When plastic bags became popular, she’d washed them carefully and store them for later use. I still keep brown paper packets. I use large ones for taking on picnics as rubbish bags; I decant mushrooms, from their plastic containers into smaller paper bags. They last longer this way, because they remain dry and air can circulate around the mushrooms and stops them getting slimy.
She’d store dry goods in glass bottles (not matching plastic containers which cost the earth!) I still prefer to use glass to store dry goods; it’s durable and transparent and doesn’t get tatty the way plastic does.
Bits of string were rolled up and kept, as were rubber bands. I still keep these, because you never know…!
When clothing had been passed on too many times, zips and buttons were removed from discarded clothing and the cloth was used for dusters. Maybe we wouldn’t re-use zips or buttons from old garments, but we can donate old clothes to charities in order to recycle.
Mom would buy a three inch thick piece of sirloin and with it she’d make four meals. She cut the top end off and make a stew with it, the fillet would be carefully sliced for Saturday night supper, the back bit, with the fat on would be a Sunday lunch roast and the bone would be boiled up with veggies for soup.
In the days before commercial cooking oils were available, all the fat was drained off cooked food and kept in a crock and used for frying. Of course, this is unthinkable now because we know how bad animal fats are for us, but in those days it was what everyone did. I recycle fat by crumbling old bread into it and putting it out on the bird table.
Sheets that were wearing thin were cut down the middle and the stronger outer sides were joined to remake the sheets and it would be useful for a while longer.
We are so used to our throw-away society and those of us who were born after 1970 seldom had to make do and re-use. We are now faced with rising costs and huge inflation. Every increase in income we may get, is quickly swallowed up by this escalation.
Recycling is all the rage nowadays, and wise consumers can turn their eyes to the methods grandma gave us and learn about making do. The Shabby Chic trend is really recycling grandma’s old ‘stuff’ isn’t it and just look at what fun that is!
We’d love to hear from you about how you Recycle and Re-use.