Of the many inspirational and practical phrases I was raised on “waste not want not” is not only the first lesson I recall learning, it has been the most heavily ingrained lesson from my mother.

For those not familiar with mom lessons, here is a little back story: As a child my mother referenced key phrases during learning moments.  I can’t recall all of them at the drop of a hat, but in seemingly random scenarios in my daily life I find myself basically freezing and repeating these life lessons verbatim, either reminding myself or trying to enlighten someone around me. Friends familiar with these phrases have often joked that I should write them in a book or stitch them on pillows because of how often they heard me make references to them.

As I said above, waste not want not is basically the mother of all mom lessons.  I distinctly remember the first time I heard this lesson, I was in the kitchen of our house on Cody St. and I wanted my mom to make as many microwave mini corn dogs as she possibly could.  While trying to convince her that she should make the whole box my mom said something along the lines of “first eat these, and if you still want more, than I will make some.”  As a young child, that just didn’t make sense, why put those dogs away and pull them out later when you could just make them all right now.   After trying to enlighten my mom with such logic she repeated very kindly waste not want not.

And my world was forever changed.

Sadly, I didn’t actually get the phrase at the time… I won’t say how long it took me, because that would just make you sad, BUT I did take away that my mom didn’t think I could eat the whole box of mini dogs, and she didn’t want me to waste them.

So wasting is a bad thing? ah ha… good to know!

Fast forward a decade and some years and what does this look like now:

  1. I hate to waste things.  If I do waste something I get mad and then sad. Every time.
  2. I reuse things past the point of salvation and then some
  3. If I can no longer use something that is in fine shape, I’ll find someone else who will
  4. I don’t really like to buy things new all the time… mainly because to me that is a waste of money, so instead I’ll buy something that has been used by someone else and make it my own. Therefore the majority of my apartment has been purchased from garage sales (no shame!)

However waste not want not has gone far beyond a lesson against throwing things away.  To me, by not wasting something today, not only will I not be wanting tomorrow, but someone else may not be either.

It’s already pretty well known if you read my blog that I’m a Christian, and part of that means I really care for God’s creation, which includes both the earth and the people in it.  Therefore I feel responsible for my how my actions affect people around me and tomorrow’s world.  Thankfully Tim is on the same page as me when it comes to this, so not only is he willing to at least try some of my crazy ideas, but he comes up with his own and it can be fun, and un-fun, and like today, a mixture of the two.

One of the big things we like to do to prevent waste in our apartment is make sure we know exactly what food is in our kitchen, and exactly when we are going to eat it. We have found that the most effective way to do this is by making weekly trips to the grocery store.  I’m sure some would give a big old ugh gross to this idea, which is why I’m not saying anyone else should do it.  We enjoy going to the grocery store, its kind of like a game to us, and we are a lot better at planning meals out a week at a time than a month at a time.

Today we made our weekly trip to the grocery store and, for the first time, were able to walk! We felt so eco-friendly and pumped up, very city chic making our way around on foot.  We got to Kroger (we are very loyal customers) and made our first stop at the Manager Specials Meat Section.  One of the pros of shopping once a week means we buy our meat at super low prices knowing we’ll use it soon.  We then figured out what meals we could make using the meat and made our way through the rest of the store.  We both found a few extra items to get excited about (yay special cheeses!) and went to self check-out.

Here we totally have our method down.  I scan and Tim packs.  Our favorite part is when we scan our Kroger card and we get to watch the prices go down.  Our second favorite part is getting the receipt and seeing all of our gas points (how nerdy do we sound? Tim says very… perhaps).

Here we became a little nervous because now we had to walk back to the apartment with our groceries.  No big deal.  Tim took the heaviest bag, I took the cutest bag and the bread, Tim took rest and we were off.  Perfect!  On the way out I started pushing the unlock button for my car out of habit, hilarious! I giggled, and we were on cloud nine! Living the dream, in the city, walking to the grocery store, does it get any better than this? (it should be noted, that I am very easily amused)

A cool evening, on a purposful walk, saving the environment and burning calories simultaneously.  We were half way home when we realized we had left our cash back cash (say that five times fast) back in the store.

Oh crap.

We paused momentarily and looked at our options:

  1. We both go back (well that’s a waste of time…)
  2. I go back and Tim takes the bags (then I’ll get sweaty…)
  3. Tim goes back and I take the bags (how heavy can the bags be?)

We both decided on option three and thinking this was no big deal Tim handed me the final bag.

I didn’t expect it to be so heavy and I accidentally just fell along with it to the ground. Tim was already running back to the store when I yelled “babe! I don’t think I can do this!”

I considered just staying there until Tim got back but then I felt bad for making him do all the work while I just sat around, and I felt like people were staring at me and felt awkward, not saying they were, but off I went shuffling along the road.  I made it about a block when I began wondering if I could do this.  Thoughts about my air conditioned car and questions like “is this worth it?” began crossing my mind.  But determined to be eco-friendly I began chanting do it for the earth Hailey! do it for the earth! I had to pause a couple of times because, and I can’t emphasize enough, I am SO weak.  As I slid my way up the final flight of stairs (we live on the third floor), basically hanging on the rail, I decided that it was time to tell the world about  waste not want not (hence this post).

We don’t want to waste gas driving to the store when we can walk

We don’t want to waste plastic grocery bags so we try to use our own bags, even if that means weight distribution is off

We don’t want to waste, because that means we’re using something that someone may have needed

I know I’m just one person, with my husband we’re just two.  But in my heart of hearts I hope and believe that by not using excess or by avoiding waste, someone else may get not what they want, but what they need.  So, even though Tim and I get totally nerdy about our simple attempts at saving, reusing, and recycling, and even though we make many mistakes while we figure things out, we’re having a blast, we’re laughing, and I’m smiling, because I’m honoring not only this lesson, but the one who taught me it, my mom: I hope she knows how much I value all she has taught me.