Use only what you need

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This adage is something that I very much grew up with amongst the Romani People into which I was born.

Natural materials were, to a great extent, the raw materials that we employed from which to make the things that we made our living with, in main, and conserving the stocks was part of harvesting the materials.

We were taught never to cut more hazel rods, for instance, or willow ones, from which to make pegs than which could be used by us at the time. And the same applied to other things as well.

Water was always precious as it had to be obtained, often via difficult means and from a distance away, so it was neither wasted when it came to drinking it, to cooking with it or to washing.

Those, however, that have everything “on tap”, figuratively speaking and with water literally tend to waste it simply because it is there. The same is true with food.

This phrase and adage to “use only what we need” is very good advice for all of us, and should be ingrained in us from a small age, as it was with us as children, until the day we die.

If we all would follow this advice, consider the savings we could make as individuals, as families and as a society; savings that also could be passed on to us, the customer.

Thus give a thought to anything and everything you consume over the next few weeks, from a simple printout at work to a whole meal for your family. Use only what you need; take only what you need; buy only what you need. Nothing more.

It can be done. Also reuse and upcycle as much of the waste materials, most often in the form of packaging, to making things from which you then don't have to buy.

People, per se, seem to have a serious “disorder” that makes them grab more than they need and this can be seen especially at eateries such as McDonald's and such like where one can – time and again – observe people taking handfuls of napkins, and handfuls of ketchup packets, and other condiments and then, with regards to the latter ones, only use one or two and tossing the rest into the trash.

At work too people are extremely wasteful, especially when they do not have to pay for it. They throw away reams and reams of paper each day due to mistakes, or more often than that, printouts for 10 people that are thrown away after a 30-minute meeting. In this day and age of electronic everything, we really need to be thinking about more efficient, and less wasteful, ways to conduct our daily business.

Then there are the pages that are printed one-side only and which are, needlessly, tossed out. The blank back of them would and does serve extremely well as notepaper. In fact, I do that with any such pages that come my way like that. They are printed with lines, from a template, and then become a notepad. Simple and easy.

I also tend to make notebooks and such from such “waste” paper and people tend to say “but you can buy a notebook for $1.” That may, indeed, be so but, aside from a $1 that I don't have to spend it is paper rescued from the trash.

“Waste not want not” is another one of those good adages to remember and when one applies the mind to it then there is lots that does not have to be wasted.

© 2010