When I was a young teenager, our family of four moved into the farmhouse with my grandmother. She had lived through the great depression, and I remember watching her in the kitchen. Nothing went to waste. After mixing a meatloaf for example, she would empty the bowl, then scrape it clean, first with a spatula, then with her finger. Not a bit was left!
The occasional scrap was mixed with water and heated on the stove, a treat for the barn cats. Brown paper bags from the grocery were saved and reused as wrapping for packages she mailed, or as carriers for the many fruit pies she took to church bake sales.
I remember my mother cutting down old Carharts for our chore clothes, and making an empty bleach bottle into a scoop for fishing ice out of our 4-H steers’ water buckets.
Mom usually has some odds and ends saved for fun projects for my kids when they visit, or small useful items I can use. No wonder I have a cupboard in my kitchen full of various paper and plastic bags, and a couple of half glasses of kids’ unfinished milk in the fridge (works fine for cooking or baking!) A stack of various shapes and sizes of cardboard boxes on the porch recently yielded a couple of valentine’s day containers. The top half of a spic’n span bottle makes a great funnel so kids can fill the birdfeeder more easily.
My husband has spent considerable time and effort in the past two winters remodeling and updating the farm shop. In addition to insulating, adding heat and better lighting, and more storage, he also had to clean out 30+ years of accumulated spare parts his father had saved, “just in case”. Although tedious and time consuming, it reminds us of what our parents had starting out, and how our farm has grown and progressed. Though we should not, and do not save everything, we do try to make good use of as much as we can!