Friday, March 18, 2011

Waste Not

I can tell spring is coming, because I'm starting to get that stir-crazy, "I have to clean every closet and ledge and shelf right now" kind of feeling.  Spring cleaning has arrived... surely the warm weather will follow (eventually).

One of the things I am trying to do during my spring cleaning is to use the stores of certain items that we have built up.  For example, we have enough bottles and half-bottles and partial-bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotion and body wash that we could go without buying it for six months at least. I like variety, so when I get tired of a certain scent, if there is only a little left, sometimes I go ahead and switch to a new one, but because I feel wasteful if I throw out good product, I keep it in the cupboard, "just in case."  And then I often forget about it, and so the stock builds! 

A few years ago, when I was teaching the high school Sunday school class at our church, we covered the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in John 6.  Near the end of the story, Jesus tells the disciples to pick up the scraps; "Let nothing be wasted," he says.  That phrase lodged itself in my mind and has been there ever since.

I am trying to use up these stockpiles, because we don't need to keep umpteen bottles of body care products for no immediately obvious reason.  If I had to move, I would probably throw it all away, and what a waste!

The kitchen is another place where I have identified a lot of wasteful behaviors.  We in middle-class America have plenty to eat, so much so that we think absolutely nothing of throwing away perfectly good food.  I have tried to cut down on my wastefulness in this area.  One way was by composting our kitchen scraps, though I have to confess that when Joel was born in December, that went by the wayside.  But spring is coming, the compost bin has been moved, and I am ready to start again.

Another way I am trying to reduce waste is by using the ingredients I have.  Cooking, to me, is a creative endeavor, so making recipe substitutions and adjustments is in my nature.  But lately I am looking at buying food in a totally different way.  I used to think of what I wanted to make, then write out my grocery list.  Now I look at what foods and ingredients I have, decide what I can make with those, and the grocery list consists of whatever else I need.  More work, yes, but also more reward.

Sophie helped me make dinner last night (an unpopular Asian-inspired meatloaf; I liked it, but Greg and Sophie were not impressed)
And then there are the other creative pursuits: knitting, crocheting, sewing, gardening.  And this year, since Sophie is 3 now and has some fine motor skills I can work with, I have started doing some basic craft projects with her.  In all of these, I am looking for ways to use or reuse household items in ways that let me express my creative energies.
Sophie's first experience with painting; I found an inexpensive wooden jewelry box painting kit and let her do her thing.  It may have been the happiest I have ever seen her; it was definitely the most focused!

Oh, Spring!  Season of renewal!  Hurry up!  I know it's early, so I don't completely trust this warm spell we are experiencing.  My soul longs to see things green and growing again, to get a fresh start at becoming the person I was made to be!

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