It all adds up…

Waste not, want not.

It’s a saying I grew up with. More often than not, my parents would ingrain this in our minds .

A quick online search revealed that this saying was first recorded in 1772. There was even an earlier version… Willful waste makes woeful want… which dates back to 1576.

And so, it’s ironic then that centuries later – we haven’t truly been able to put this saying into practice.

In fact, the opposite is true. We want, want, want; from clothing to lavish events to momentos. In the process, we accumulate more – only to throw it away a few years later. A culture of rampant consumerism has undoubtedly engulfed the human race. And that’s why we are sitting with massive issues regarding waste, landfill space, recycling, plastic and the like.

Let me be more specific. In the midst of cleaning our cupboards this weekend, my husband and I realised how much stuff we were storing unnecessarily. Cupboards were emptied in minutes and several bin packets later, we bemoaned why we didn’t do this earlier. I am going to let you in on what were the some of the main culprits we identified in our home…

Boxes – these were often from electronic appliances that were kept for warranty purposes. Still many were way past that date.

Gift bags – oh boy! I was surprised at this one. So many gift bags amassed over the years!

Momentos from events/parties – from thank you cards to actual invites and trinkets. I had almost a cupboard full!

Electronic gadgets – old batteries, earphones, outdated cellphone chargers

Paper/Notepads – here I am squarely to blame. As a journalist, I use a lot of writing material but clearly I have been holding onto some, more like hoarding, for longer than necessary.

Brochures, Pamphlets – we pick these up wherever we go and it just sits somewhere in the cupboard.

Yes, most of these items can be recycled or disposed of correctly. So what’s the problem, you may ask?

Well, should we not, at this point in human evolution, be looking at how we can create less waste instead of recycle more? If we don’t really need these items, why do we bring them into our homes and why do we encourage and promote their use?

At this point, I could offend people but I have to be blunt. Here are some ways in which I think we can minimise waste…

Gift bags – I’m not buying them anymore. I will use what I already have and then use eco-friendly gift wrap. And please don’t give me gift bags. I will not be offended.

Invites to events – Let’s just go digital. Inevitably, I end up taking a picture of an invite for easy reference so a digital invite is always best. I understand that often elder family members would prefer an invite on paper. That’s fine but you do not have to print a huge batch. It’s a cost saving too.

Momentos – nice to have but not necessary. Cut them out and make your event a fun one for guests in other innovative ways.

It’s a start, and I’m going to figure out more ways as I go along. Frankly, the frustration of cleaning up is getting to me….

And I haven’t even got to the biggest part – my clothing cupboards that I am ashamed to say do not close anymore. Again, I have accumulated so many clothes over the years yet I don’t use them. These I will be donating to charity. I’m also making a conscious effort to NOT buy clothes if I don’t really need them.

I’m in this for the long haul so please wish me luck! And send me any tips you may have.

Let’s all prove to ourselves that we can indeed live by the words… Waste not, want not.

3 thoughts on “It all adds up…

  1. Damn, this article makes me feel thrifty & somewhat of a minimalist! I clean out my clothes cupboard & bookshelf at least twice a year. Allocate unwanted gifts when I receive (don’t tell!) & prefer doing a celebratory activity.
    Have several pairs if shoes filling up the space allocated for them, which is now difficult coz I’m not ready to clean out.
    Don’t do gift bags, unless I’m recycling, coz I love wrapping gifts!
    Thankfully hubby is similar so we declutter randomly!

  2. Great Article and i think we all need to be mindful on every aspect you mention and make a conscious effort to live with less. We too have embarked on a similar exercise. On the subject of clothes the rule we now live by is rule – if we buy something we want( rather than need) something needs to be taken out to make place for the new. I do the same with my son’s clothes.

    I will definitely forego the gift bags. I also wish that people would hear me when i say i dont need a gift for my birthday. I appreciate the thought and effort people go to in order to get me something – but quite often i get asked “What do you want for your birthday?” . When i say i dont need anything – i honestly wish people would realise that i am not just saying the words. I truly do not need anything. Consumerism has been a major contributor to hoarding, debt and many other issues our societies face, The fight against it by starting with ourselves and our homes – hopefully the more people see this , they too will follow.

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