I used to say I didn’t want to become a bag lady. But it has happened — and the kind of bag lady I am is good. I have a place to live. I enjoy my apartment, the building I live in, my neighbours, my neighbourhood and my city. I also love my children and my grandson. I’m a lucky lady. That’s why it happened! I want everything I enjoy to still be here for my loved ones and others after I’m gone, so being a “bag lady” is just fine with me.
When I shop for food, I buy a couple of this and a few of that, and almost each different fruit or vegetable is placed in a separate plastic bag. I reuse the larger bags for garbage, but the smaller ones aren’t big enough for that, so I began taking a dozen or so bags back to the market to reuse over and over again. It works!
Having just returned from visiting loved ones in California for a couple of weeks, (where I was spoiled rotten) I came home to an empty larder. A major food shopping expedition was in order. First things first, thus after picking up a book waiting for me at the library, I visited the nearby greengrocer to stock up using my own plastic bags. When I got home, I placed my heavy purchases into my new shopping cart to wheel up to my apartment.
Well, it isn’t exactly a “new” cart, it used to belong to my neighbour, who parks right behind me. Someone left a cart he liked better than his own in our car park with a sign reading “free”. I happened to be in my car while he was exchanging his and I noted his cart looked sturdier than mine. He graciously hauled mine out of my trunk, placed it where someone else might take it, and loaded his into my car. By the time I got back from my outing, mine had already been claimed by another neighbour. What can be better than that? That’s what I call recycling!
We do a lot of recycling in our building, which delights me. We share and exchange books and magazines, plus other things we no longer need. I have a great little cot a neighbour was trying to get rid of. Big Brothers had refused to take it. I saw her reluctantly wheeling it back to her apartment and asked if she was trying to get rid of it. Yes and yes, she would be most grateful if I could use it. I use it often and share it with friends when they need one as well. It folds up flat for storage under my bed when not in use. It is recycled, shared and constantly reused!
After knee surgery, I was told to adjust the tension on my Exercycle and increase it gradually. The tension was the only thing that didn’t work on my solid old bike. It was important that I use one and use it properly, but since I’m not good at fixing things, I decided to buy a new one. I put up a sign offering the used bike to anyone who wanted it. A new neighbour agreed to take it off my hands. I was grateful.
“I can fix anything,” he declared. (Now that I know him better, I can vouch that what he said was, indeed, true.) I have a new bike and someone is using my old one. I’m happy about that.
When I was very young, I had an older neighbour who was extremely frugal. She never forgot that her father, in Europe, got into financial trouble and the bailiffs locked their dressers so the family could not get anything out of them. She sewed well and when her sons burned holes in her tablecloths, (everyone smoked then) she’d cut out the burned sections and make kitchen curtains out of them. When the sun faded parts of those curtains, she’d cut them again to make handkerchiefs with the salvageable fabric. In those days, I thought she went too far. Today, I realize that what she did was great for our environment. I was just too young to realize it.
I now carry plastic containers with me whenever I go out for lunch in case I want to bring some food home. That way, I save the use of additional containers and the restaurants I patronize appreciate it too. I reuse bags and paper. I don’t buy anti-bacterial soaps or cleansers. (I make my own cleanser using baking soda, vinegar and water.) I try to use things until they are worn, and give serviceable clothing I won’t use anymore to others.
Hey, I’m doing my part to save the world! I hope you are too.
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
Native American Proverb