Why I Became a Bag Lady

Muriel from Blog 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!so there will be a tomorrow

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 recycle_logo_copycart 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!

Can any of this be reused?

Can any of this be reused?

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!

Or will we be buried in garbage?

Or will we be buried in garbage?

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.

Now that I know him, I know he CAN fix anything.

Now that I know him, I know he CAN fix anything.

“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.hug the world

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


10 thoughts on “Why I Became a Bag Lady

  1. Very noble and practical, Mom! My favorite use of recycling was making a wonderful “rattle” toy for our VERY playful young horse, Obie, out of a used pop bottle and some used plastic baling twine from the hay. I put a handful of pebbles in the bottle, put the cap back on really tightly, drilled a hole through the sides of the cap/bottle, then strung some twine through it. The twine became part of the large, fat braid of twine that was the “handle” rope for the rattle. Obie loved it! He grabbed it by the braid and gleefully swung it around (often bashing himself with it, which he seemed to particularly enjoy — go figure), making lots of noise and generally terrorizing our other horse, Gryphon, with the thing. Got to the point that I would take the toy out of the paddock at night so that we wouldn’t wake up to echoing rattles at some ungodly hour, inevitably accompanied by thundering hooves as Gryphon ran away and Obie chased him. Who knew such fun could be had with “garbage”? I don’t have any video of Obie playing with that toy, but I did make one of him playing with another toy made with many recycled items (including another rattle — this one a vitamin bottle with pebbles in it), most of which were left-over bits and pieces from various household projects. You can see Obie playing with his recycled “mobile” here, if you like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZAZBFQkSuE

  2. Bravo, Muriel! We tend to actually NEED all the bags we get from the grocers… Especially for garbage… But we could probably recycle more of them… we probably throw out the smaller veggie bags…

    Amazing to see your vid, Susan! Watching Frasier in the 1990’s, I laughed at the joke of the animal “psychologist”. Its amazing to me how biased I am/was, just like everyone else! How we are just used to thinking a certain way.

    Now, everyone is realizing how intelligent animals are, and how similar they are to us. Which makes sense given our the food/shelter/production needs that we share with animals. I guess the main difference is our use of a huge variety of sounds to communicate concepts to others, necessitated I assume, to pass on survival tips on where to find food and water, etc… and build up societal infrastructure (tribal rituals) to aid in our long-term survival.

  3. Muriel illustrates how bright we are as animals and how we love to use tools. We are right up there with the crows and other birds and animals… Though the more addicted we’ve become to tools, the more abstracted we become from our physical environment…

  4. I enjoyed this Muriel! It reminded me so much of my Mother (who you remember as a terrific Scrabble player, even in her late 80’s and 90’s!) We did not use the term “recycle” as I was growing up, but Mom always had elastic bands, brown paper bags, used tissue and wrapping paper, etc. saved. When I was a Nursery School Teacher (for 32 years) all those items made wonderful arts and crafts materials that did not cost anything and helped the kids respect everything in our environment!

  5. This is wonderful, Muriel…a reminder for me to use less plastic, for one thing. And to continue on re-using and re-cycling whatever I can. Saying no to buying what we really don’t need is an ongoing learning experience for me. Every little effort to live more frugally will help the planet, one step at a time!
    I’m going to send this post on to friends & family!

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