by Helena Tosello
Rotting smelly food scraps, discoloured bits of building materials, crumpled paper and broken glass. Is this what you picture when you think of waste? But what about that silk top you bought on holidays two years which you’ve only worn once, the glass decanter wedding present you think is too snobby, or the designer handbag you consider too good to use? Aren’t these all just another form of waste? They may be nicer looking and smelling, but they are waste just the same. A waste of money, time, energy and storage. Could they be put to better use?
In our fast-paced, disposable society we are accustomed to the Reduce Re-use Recycle motto and campaigns to reduce waste in the office (print on both sides, email, don’t print at all); when eating out (restaurants which charge you more if you don’t finish your meal, bringing your own mug to the café for a discount) and shopping (say no to plastic). But have you thought about “hidden waste”, waste masquerading as clothes you’ll wear to a future job you might have one day or art supplies for the painter inside you which has not emerged since you were in school?
How many areas of hidden waste can you uncover in your life?
1. Keeping items for ‘Ron (contraction of “keeping items for later on”)
Did you know bone china which is not used and washed regularly becomes brittle and more likely to break? It’s true, so get those wedding dishes out and use them every day. Breakfast will never feel so glamorous. Wine in a fancy decanter tastes better and adds to your $10 bottle of red. Money saved and mood boosted. Think about items you have bought or been given which are seldom used because you think they are “too good”. What are you saving them for? The Queen? Use them. You are good enough. If you don’t want them or don’t have a genuine need, sell them or give them away.
Keeping things and not using is same as waste. Anything you have and don’t use is wasted. Why would you have waste sitting around your house? A use does not have to be tangible or practical. If an item such as artwork or jewellery gives you pleasure just by looking at it then put it on display.
2. Extra food served and/or eaten
If you don’t need it because you or the family have had sufficient sized portions then eating it is not only bad for your weight but a waste of leftovers which could have been tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. When serving a meal, place extra portions straight in containers into the fridge. You’ll be less likely to overeat.
We all have things which come into the house unbidden. Rubber bands around newspapers, paper clips, envelopes, gift bags, pens, mail which is only printed on one side (!). Keep and use these items to save you money. They can all be re-used but only if you keep them stored in a logical place (where you use), know where they are and remember to use them.
Samples from magazines and shops are the same. If you don’t think you’ll use it, give it to someone who will. Or toss it, don’t keep it.
Everyone has their time wasters – mine are called Sam and Max. Seriously, you’ll feel better if you can use this time, usually spent waiting on other people, doing something useful.
Here are some ideas:
* Waiting in your car for kids to finish sport or any activity – take a book or have an eBook on your phone as well and you’ll discover reading time you never knew you had, write in your diary or a shopping list, call a friend mum sister, clean out your handbag/glove box/wallet
* Waiting in waiting rooms – read (see above), catch up on trash, check Facebook, organise coffee, meals and other appointments, close your eyes and meditate
* Waiting in line – if you’re standing up you can do anything on your phone. Otherwise take the time to concentrate on your breathing and think of nothing at all. They say even 5 minutes of meditation daily is good for your health.
6. Unwanted Gifts
Two words: Gift Cupboard. I admit to keeping anything which comes into our home which could be regifted. They may have been given as gifts to you or your family, be duplicates, extras in a sale, anything. As long as original packaging is intact and any food items will not expire too soon, keep these items for those last minute birthday invitations and Kris Kringles. However a warning: these gifts will not save you time, money or energy if you forget about them and do not use them.
Look through all the items and decide if any can be used in the next few weeks. List what you have. Keep the list on your phone or in your handbag. There’s nothing worse than buying something only to find something similar at home.
See if anything just needs a couple of extra items to make it into a decent present. Think about when and what they can be used for. Eg upcoming kids birthdays, Christmas presents for teachers, coaches, neighbours.
Do a big clean out two months before Christmas and note when your local schools and churches are taking donations for presents and fetes. Anything unused by Christmas could go under a wishing tree in Kmart.
I would love to write about wasted opportunities but don’t feel qualified, being an advanced procrastinator myself. Though I did hear an interesting quote the other day:
“Good luck happens when opportunity meets preparation.”
Here’s to all of us being better prepared and less wasteful.
Helena is a mum in the middle of everything trying to regain the centre stage of her own life. She lives in inner west Sydney with two boys and a fly in-fly out husband. She enjoys coffee with friends, being organised, researching, sharing, and working on her fledging blog. You can follow her at schoolsavvymum.wordpress.com www..facebook.com/SchoolSavvyMum