Some Things We Save, Some Things We Throw Away

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

Our grandmothers knew a thing or two about recycling. Back then it wasn’t about saving the planet, it was about saving a dime or two. That’s one of the nicest things about the “green” trend, not only is it good for our planet, but it’s also good for our wallets.

Back to our grandmothers, though. One of the stories I remember hearing from my grandmother was how they would take flour and feed sacks and turn them into dresses. Flour manufacturers picked up on the fact that people were doing this and as a marketing tool, put pretty patterns on the sacks.

We should take the spirit of the flour sacks and think: what could we be saving that we are not saving? Could we reuse our bread bags for something? I use mine to pic up dog poo. What about all the various cardboard boxes so much of our stuff comes in? I saw a neat idea to make a train table out of leftover cardboard.

When we’re looking at things that we can save, also be objective and make sure you’re throwing things away as necessary, too. Many of our Depression-era grandmothers tend toward keeping too much stuff, which can be just as bad as not saving and reusing enough. When my grandmother died, I inherited about 80 billion pairs of scissors. Why? Because the amount of stuff she had meant things got lost in the mess easily and instead of finding and using what she already had, she’d buy more. So keep that in mind when you’re looking to save things. Only save what you can easily store and put away.

Let’s take some time today and give some though to what we can reuse and recycle in our daily lives. Let’s also do some clutter reduction while we’re at it. What can you throw away? What will you save?


  1. Britni on November 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    In my childhood, my mom advised me some things-

    1.Put your money where your heart is.

    2. Take it to work.

    3. Share what you care about.

    4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Thanks by Britni @SAMSUNG GALAXY

  2. GJR on August 1, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I have a flour sack quilt that my great-Aunt made! It’s very soft and was my favorite blanket for most of my life. It’s starting to fall apart now, so it’s no longer in use.

  3. Michelle on July 30, 2009 at 4:00 am

    We do much the same as the other commenters but also reuse bread bags and other bags like you, Ivy. We use them (and any other workable plastic bag that can’t be recycled) to scoop the litter clumps into each day. They’d just be going into the trash, so we may as well use them and recycle any grocery sacks we bring home (I avoid that as much as possible). I reuse ziplock bags all the time, even if I have to wash some of them. I cut up certain old clothing to make washable “tissues”–easier on the nose and saves money and resources. We also use old towels and some old clothing for rags instead of buying paper towels. I can’t even tell you when I last bought paper towels.

    Great topic, and Im loving this blog!

  4. Stacy on July 28, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Well, I try to use reusable grocery bags whenever I remember, which is most of the time. I reuse plastic grocery bags for any number of things–usually lunches. I reuse any containers or bags that can be reasonably cleaned or brushed out. Bread bags can be used instead of ziplocs for sack lunches. A lot of companies seem to be packaging their food products in ziploc type bags, big and small. These can be washed and reused for whatever. I use them for freezing things like old bananas and such. I’ve also been trying to purge a lot of things from the house, and it feels great. I have been trying to “get real” about what I will actually like and use, and get ruthless with myself about letting go of the rest.

    Someone above suggested oatmeal cannisters for plastic bags–that’s a good idea and I’m going to do that.

  5. twadlund on July 27, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    This is such a great reminder! I constantly find myself caught up in the daily grind and sometimes just don’t think about stuff like this. I guess that’s why I love and need this blog! I forget that it saves money and not just our environment. We have re-used jars, paper bags-dog poo, etc.. over the years but we recently started a new ritual. we had some old curtains that we cut up into small “rag” sized squires..the texture is just good enough to work. So now we have like 100 “new” rags!

  6. Keter on July 27, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I save glass jars that will accept a canning lid; this means I have storage containers using the old lids and canning jars that only require me to buy new lids. I use fabric shopping bags, so not too many plastic bags come into my house these days. I reuse these as trash can liners. I compost vegetable scraps. Junk mail and cardboard packaging gets rolled up tightly and stuffed into the large round cardboard boxes that oatmeal comes in (I make my own dog food and use oatmeal in one recipe, so we use a lot) – these will be used as fire-starting logs come winter. As a result, my recycling trash is now 3x the volume of my landfill trash.

    What can go? Well, I’m mostly on the one-in, one-out method. Recently a long-time house guest finally moved out, and I am still in the process of de-compacting the rest of my household, so I’m finding all kinds of things that aren’t being used or are obsolete. Electronics, mostly. This stuff is being set aside and will go to charity or Freecycle. I recently gave away a big bag of clothes, too, and probably should give away another one before I’m done.

    Now if I could just get my husband to declutter his workshop!!!

  7. Nancy on July 27, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I use my big peanut butter jars for storing pennies. I have also been buying cheese in bulk, then using leftover plastic cheese containers for storing cheese after I grate it or shred it. I use the cardboard cylinders that once held oatmeal for holding leftover plastic grocery bags. Leftover plastic bags I use for scooping the cat boxes and lining small trash cans in the house.
    On the other hand, I am trying to limit clutter. My parents had the truly daunting task of cleaning out my grandparents home when they went into assisted living, and now my Mother is working at trying to declutter her own home, so that we children will not have to when she goes. She has found that if she leaves perfectly usable things by the curb on Sunday afternoons, they are usually gone by Monday morning.

  8. ThatBobbieGirl on July 27, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I save plastic grocery bags and reuse them for trash bags, and for anything we need a bag for. Why spend money when something free will work just fine? I save yogurt & sour cream containers to use for freezing things like homemade stock or my italian meat sauce. All of my “canisters” are empty plastic or glass gallon-sized food containers. (Only ones that didn’t have strong-smelling foods in them! Who wants pickle-flavored flour?) I periodlically go thru my saved containers and match them up with lids – anything without a mate gets pitched.

  9. crackerjackheart on July 27, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I have started doing this:
    When I forget to bring my own bags to the grocery, I get paper and use them for mailing instead of buying envelopes.

  10. Sue on July 27, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I save jars from spaghetti sauce, peanut butter etc. for various ingredients that I buy in bulk – they look kind of cool on the shelf actually! My sister used to use them for leftovers. And I’m in the middle of a kitchen de-clutter – most of it was in good shape, but how many stock pots am I really going to use at once? Having too many things in the cupboard meant I wasn’t using a lot of it because it was too annoying to get to. I donated the extra to goodwill, and am excited about my kitchen again!

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