My husband’s hometown (in the Salerno province) is a village where thrift reigns. The people there have long been used to making do. The current trend toward simplicity and frugality is so normal for them, that they would ask “Is there any other way?”
I’m often amazed at their makeshift contrivances. And their unusual, often ingenious, ways of reusing and up-cycling. Some of the oddest containers employed as plant pots. The strangest objects joined to form fences. Nothing, it seems, goes to waste, but gets reused for something.
None the less, the way an elderly paesana (fellow countrywoman) packaged a gift surprised me.
An old juice bottle filled with wonderful extra, extra virgin olive oil straight from her trees. And home-cured olives ready to eat! And who else but these delightful, thrifty people would present them in a plastic juice bottle and empty cookie bag, tied with a strip cut from durable plastic? Not me! I’ve always just considered such things trash, not reusable items!
It would undoubtedly mystify her to learn she was being green.
She probably didn’t even think of trash problems, or the environment. She just saw something that she could eventually find another use for, and thereby save herself a few pennies.
Unlike that Green Granny, we modern folk often fail to make use of the things we already hold in our hands.
Many people I know, while desiring to be more green, follow fads and trends. And instead of using what they have or making do in some way, often spend money unnecessarily. We forget that manufacturing new, ready-made items also adds to ecological problems, even if the items are touted as green or natural. And all the while we often overlook what we already have at our disposal.
I now view my trash differently.
I’m grateful for the granny’s lesson of getting back to the old-fashioned ways of our grandparents. Back to when the adage was: “Make do or do without.” Because it helps us learn to put to use the things we already have instead!
Now before tossing something I ask, “Is it really trash, or could it be used at least once more?” That empty bread bag? Whether paper or plastic, I stick it to the side. Then pack my husband’s sandwich in it. If coworkers give him funny looks I say, “Tell them you’re saving the planet!”
Actually, we try to buy our food with as little packaging as possible. I have my own nifty, homemade sandwich bags that we use over and over. But thanks to Thrifty Granny, I now try to reuse my trash too!