Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Best Advice My Grandma Never Gave Me

Day 24 of NaBloWriMo (National Blog Writing Month)...

Mincing words was never something we had to worry about with Grandma. She was not opposed to speaking her mind. Whether the subject was what you were eating or what you were spending or how you were driving, Grandma was quick with the questions and quicker with the advice. But probably the best advice I ever got from Grandma came through her actions--and the size of her kitchen garbage can--and not through her words of wisdom.

The trash receptacle in Grandma’s kitchen was no bigger than the coffee can size container we all have in our bathrooms. Grandma didn’t need anything bigger, because she never threw anything away. Saving the planet wasn’t the concern in her day and the phrase “reuse, recycle, reduce” had yet to be coined. Grandma just never allowed anything to “go to waste.”

If it was washable, grandma scoured and re-used it. If it wasn’t washable, it was used as stationery, grocery lists, or to spread out on the floor to be used as a drop cloth and eventually incinerated if it had exhausted all its purposes. If it was food-based, it went to the cats, the cattle, or out to the compost heap. Grandma never once bought a box of storage bags or containers from the grocery store. Bread sacks were washed over and over and used to keep leftovers or to transport garden produce to the neighbors. There was a drawer in grandma’s kitchen that held scraps of tin foil so thin you could see through them, but they were still useful. Empty potato chip sacks were cut up the sides, wiped down, and placed under potted plants or laid out on the table to collect the pea pods from the peas she was shelling or walnut shells or stems from strawberries or whatever the chore required. Milk cartons and jugs were rinsed and filled with water to be placed in the freezer so there was plenty of ice when it was time to make the homemade ice cream. The Styrofoam trays and containers, metal cans, and glass jars that were opened and emptied during food preparation had multiple functions and withstood repeated washings. I don’t think Grandma ever came across a single item that only served one purpose.

Grandma’s eco-friendly way of life is ever so timely today and still rings through to me as the best advice she never imparted.

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