Friday, August 21, 2009

waste not, want not?

so here's a fun fact about me. i HATE waste. i mean really and truly hate it. and i believe that i have a bit of a hoarding tendency. i have really witnessed this tonight in my attempt to work on cleaning the house and organize the kitchen a bit more.

due to the tremendous amounts of baking that i have been doing lately, i have continued to accumulate kitchen stuff: gadgets to make my work easier (i finally found a cherry pitter after scouring all the stores in bowling green!), aluminum pie pans and cardboard boxes for orders, extra pans for when i make a lot of something, and bulk amounts of ingredients (i am now purchasing flour and sugar in 25 lb bags).

hubs and i have been blessed with a wonderful house that we love, but the kitchen is not really a cook's kitchen. there is no pantry (i have put extra shelves in the attached laundry room), and there is not much cabinet space--10 full size cabinet doors, 4 1/2 drawers, and 6 half-sized cabinets (only tall enough to hold a bag of flour/no extra shelves). i realize that for some people that would be plenty, but for someone like me with a plethora of dishes, pans, gadgets, and ingredients to store, PLUS tons of store-bought stuff that hubs gets from his best friend, we have quickly run out of room. tonight was my 3rd time this year to try to re-organize in order to make better use of our space.

i decided that it was time to organize two of my lower cabinets that have billed filled with dinner mixes and processed food since we moved into the house 3 years ago--and stuff that i never use. i cleared off a shelf in my "pantry" that i had devoted to a plastic bin full of disposable containers (we'll get to those later) and decided to sort through everything.

what i found was shameful. the majority of this food expired in 2006 or even 2005! there were leftover instant meals from when i was in college, and instant mashed potato flakes from when we first got married...oh it was bad. but the worst part was that it hurt me to throw it out! i know that the food wasn't useful to our lifestyle anymore...and probably wouldn't be safe to eat even if it was...but i kept thinking about the starving kids in africa who would probably like to eat my out of date hamburger helper instant beef stroganoff meal! i trashed at least 10 boxes of stuff...but only after dumping the contents out of their cardboard boxes so that i could at least recycle those. and i hate to admit it....but i still kept some's just so hard for me!

and then there are the plastic food containers....once again the recycling factor gets me. bowling green does not recyle type-5 plastic, and therefore i have several years worth of sour cream, cool whip, margarine, and who-knows-what-else containers, not to mention the gladware and other stuff that we got when we got married. i keep thinking that i will be able to use them...and i have used many to dole out leftovers to hungry college bible study girls...but now the girls are all gone, and i can't keep every sour cream container that i ever obtain! does anyone know of a recyling plant nearby that takes #5 plastic? lol.

the weird thing is that i've never been super earth-conscious or whatever--but i am OBSESSED with recycling. to the point that i keep a box at work and collect the recyclables and then bring them home on the pick-up day. my dad's family didn't have much money, so he has that "depression-era" mindset of keeping and using everything, and when i was growing up we didn't have much money either and definitely made use of everything we had. we very rarely throw anything away other than food scraps, packaging, and paper stuff (which we recycle if at all possible), and my dad has been known to dumpster dive & pick stuff up from the side of the road! but we also have a lot of STUFF b/c of this. i have a box of ripped and torn clothing that i can't bear to throw out b/c it's not an acceptable form of trash for me--i had in my mind that i would make rags or a quilt or something out of it b/c i just couldn't bear to throw it in the trash! i mean, really, if i ever do get around to quilt making, i will be using something prettier than torn up jeans!! but believe me--i was super excited when i read in a magazine yesterday that clothing with holes in it can still be donated to goodwill and will be recycled--yay!

i tend to acquire things based on whether i think i will ever possibly need or want it rather than really having a use for it. because of that, i found the ingredients for dishes that i have never ever made, lots of things that i had bought in bulk when on a discount...and then forgot that i had so i bought more--just frustrating stuff. and all this junk that was completely without use was taking up half of my storage space under the kitchen counters! gah! in general, our house is full of stuff that we have acquired and kept but that we will probably not have use for.

i am making small steps towards organization and the purging of unecessary things, but it is still very difficult for me. i really desire to be a good steward of the things that God has blessed us with, and i feel that i am not doing that right now at all! what are some ways that you organize or decide what to get rid of?


  1. well i am so the opposite of you! i hate having lots of stuff, like it stresses me out. so i purge all the time, and i am usually not very waste conscience. i want to get better at thinking before i dump... i never ever save containers... (shameful i know)

    but i do recycle!

    anyhow, i think we need to find a happy medium between us! the biggest way i stay organized is trying to resist buying things in the first place. i have to wait a week till i go back and buy something, if i am still thinking of it i will go get it then.

  2. oh sarah, you are cracking me up!!! this is so me. i actually just had to throw out some things yesterday when adam and i were taking a load to the new house. like a bag of cereal with only like 1/3 left and some SUPER stale chips. but i'm like that with boxed processed stuff too.

    i was just telling adam yesterday that as we are unpacking, we have to get rid of stuff. there is no reason that we should have so much stuff just 9 1/2 months into our marriage! but we want to dump smartly too and not make tons of waste, you know, give it to others. next time you are dumping things, you can think of hope house too!!!

  3. I am a recycling maniac too! It pains me when I am at my parents and throw milk jugs in the trash...they don't have curbside and have to pay to recycle. Southern Recycling always takes those sour cream tubs from me, though. We're in the county - not sure if that makes a difference.

    I do constantly get rid of stuff though. I can't stand trashing stuff that could be reused, but I also have to constantly clean out to make space for things that we do use. If it isn't truly useful or sentimental, it's gone!