We’re Not QUITE Hoarders

I previously published a post titled Something For Nothing, where I listed several of the things I do to conserve or make a little bit of money, to help us, and others, in our retirement.  This one shows another facet, with some ideas some of you might want to think about, and maybe try, for a couple of reasons.

Less garbage = more money!

Reduce, reuse, recycle — and reap rewards. Really!

Hoarding gets a bad rap from many.  Some are joking, but many are serious.  Some of my behaviour could raise eyebrows among the non-frugal.  I even prefer to use the word frugal, instead of cheap or miserly.

I save or scavenge things like egg cartons, coffee cans, plastic containers, cardboard boxes and large envelopes. The difference between me and a true hoarder is that I use them, instead of letting them pile up — and they save me “a significant amount of money.”  In fact, such tactics save money in several different, interrelated ways.

For example:

  • The less waste  you generate, the fewer garbage bags you have to buy, and the lower your  disposal bills might be.
  • Buying in bulk  to reduce packaging waste means you get a lower cost-per-unit price.
  • Putting  leftovers into a pickle jar or bread bag reduces the need for foil,  plastic wrap or food-storage containers.

Repurposing used to be common. Outgrown clothes were cut down for younger siblings or reborn as quilt patches. Old buildings were torn down to provide lumber for new projects. My mother poured homemade jam into peanut-butter jars (which used to be made of glass) and sealed them with wax.

These tactics work

In a post on the Silent Springs blog, Vincent Smith suggests that “more thoughtful living” could greatly reduce waste. Why do we throw away an old shirt but buy cleaning rags?  Whether your motive is saving money or saving the planet, slashing waste is a giant step in the right direction.  We do things like buying in bulk to eliminate individual packaging, packing a lunch to cut down on fast-food waste, and bringing our own water and coffee containers.  You don’t need to contribute to that trash can outside Starbucks, overflowing with single-use paper cups.

I do many of these things myself and can attest to their cost-effectiveness. A roll of aluminum foil can last us a couple of years.  A used piece is often not “dirty.”  Wipe it with a damp cloth, to clean and flatten it, and fold it, ready to hold the next sandwich, or piece of pizza. Produce and bread bags get re-used until they shred.

We repurpose empty jars for storage, buying things like spaghetti sauce in Mason-mouthed glass jars, which later hold things like bulk cornmeal.  Wide-mouth plastic jars which held cheap crackers when we bought them, now hold bread crumbs and potato flakes, for cooking.  Not that we attend them anymore, but I have found Tupperware in the free-box at yard sales. A pile of reusable shopping bags lives in a plastic shopping basket in the car trunk.

We buy in bulk when we can, and choose large sizes the rest of the time. We make our own jam (sometimes using foraged fruit).  I’ve mentioned about buying condiments like ketchup and mustard in gallon cans or jugs, and repeatedly refilling the small squeeze bottles, for a fraction of the cost.

Adding less to the problem 

Not that I’m a green saint, mind you. For example, we drink a lot of Pepsi, and buy individual yogurts, both for the wife, who has a small eating limit, and for the son to pack in his work lunch. However, we do recycle the cartons and the plastic containers.

The municipal recycling committee recently complained about the cost of sending around a truck to pick up “air.”  I stomp flat, any plastic bottles or other containers.  As three adults, we often put out less than a Blue Box full of recycling.  The two adults, and two small children next door put out three, or even four boxes every week!

Recycling is not mandatory here in Kitchener, but I can feel it coming.  All allowable organic matter goes into our composters, but the Committee is also bitching that residents are not putting out enough in the City-issued Green Bins, to cover the cost of the disposal contract, so I guess I’m not the only cheapo in the city.  Compost includes tea-bags, coffee grounds and filters, citrus rinds and banana peels.

Bananas contain magnesium.  It’s good for you, and good for plants too.  The tea and coffee contain tannic acid, which also feeds plants, and breaks down the paper to produce good, rich loam to be used in the gardens.  We buy unpeeled shrimp (when we can afford a bit), for considerably less than pre-peeled.  The wife peels them and the casings also go into compost.  As the Indians taught the Pilgrims, seafood makes rich plant food.

We use cloth bags where we can, because local cities allow stores to charge five cents each, for plastic bags. We used to use those in the cupboard-door-mounted garbage container, but recently purchased a new model, and the wife prefers to use the ones specifically intended for it.  I save bags from trips to stores and vendors who do not charge, and use them for kitty litter waste, or carrying newspapers to the crazy cat lady for flooring in her kennels.

Clean ones are flattened and folded and given to our bookstore lady, to cut down on the number of new ones she must purchase.  Soiled or torn ones are accumulated and put out with the blue box, so that someone else can melt them down and re-use the plastic to produce new products.  One of our shopping bags has a little sign on it that says, “I used to be a milk jug.”

While I don’t kid myself about saving the planet single-handedly, there is a fair amount of satisfaction in not adding to the problem any more than we must. Also, it’s nice not to have to shell out cash for things like more aluminum foil, or sandwich bags, and reduced retirement income goes a little further.

31 thoughts on “We’re Not QUITE Hoarders

  1. Reblogged this on myatheistlife and commented:
    This is what gen-x doesn’t know about… it used to be called ‘making do’ but in this current world we should start calling it living smart.


  2. 1jaded1 says:

    Yes, reusing and recycling hoarding. People should learn the difference.


  3. Argus says:

    Perhaps I may be a wee bit of a hoarder. My garage is full of stuff that ‘may’ be handy one day. My bookshelves overflow with books I haven’t yet read but couldn’t resist (and there’s no way I have lifetime enough left anyhow). But we, too, are careful with our resources; waste is for the unthinking, arrogant, and/or limited-minded.

    “Judge not, lest ye be judged” … utter rubbish~!
    Judge ’em by what they do, not what they say …


    • Archon's Den says:

      Welcome Argus! Old eyes originally read that as Angus, who was my Scottie dog, or vice versa, for several years.
      I recognize that song – a few nuts and bolts here, some wood there, soon, no space to walk. A lady blogger wrote of throwing out 100 “things” each day, for a hundred days. At nearly 70, I’ve started, but at a slower pace. I’ll have to step up my game. 🙂


  4. Jim Wheeler says:

    You are a man after my own heart, Archon. For 17 years as an engineer-manager I brown-bagged my lunch on days when I didn’t have business lunches. Looking back, I think enjoying those lunches while reading the newspaper were the most enjoyable parts of my working days. Side benefits: cheaper and healthier.

    A penny saved is a penny earned. — Benjamin Franklin

    (and, it’s tax-free!)

    Without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor. — Samuel Johnson


    • Archon's Den says:

      I brown-bagged for years. I remember the difference nuking a salami sandwich made when microwave ovens first became available, and then taking soup and stews and pasta – oh yah! 😀


      • ladyryl says:

        Taking leftovers from last night’s meal was enough to make the tummies of your work mates grumble in the lunch room on many occasions. Shimoniac does that now and the stories that come out of the lunch room encounters are still enough to make one chuckle.


  5. BrainRants says:

    I don’t think any of us were worried. I have things that my great-greats used (tools) and pictures (too many) of them. Hoarding? No.


    • Archon's Den says:

      What should worry people about me is not the hoarding. Great-great tools and pictures hold a family heritage, although too many can crowd a BOQ unit. I’m co-opting your idea, and am going to publish the occasional post on old stuff I have. 🙂


  6. coastalcrone says:

    You are not alone nor a cheapo! Husband and I try to reuse and recycle as much as we can. I often say I have depression genes as my parents lived through the depression and made do in so many ways. Excellent post!.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I was born in1944, at the end of WWII rationing, to parents who’d just come through the depression, so I’ve got those genes too. This was more a wake-up call to the younger crowd. Good to see us old guys can still teach them something.


  7. shimoniac says:

    A ditty I read once is now running through my head, and I think it is appropriate to this subject.
    Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or do without.


  8. ‘Wear it out. Use it up. Make it last.’ Depression thinking. It’s the only thing that’s kept us going since I became ill.
    My 20 year old car sports the front end of an older model due to the insistance of a deer to occupy the same space a few years back. The rust holes in the doors and floorboarders simply means I don’t have to run the a/c. Cracking the back windows half an inch or so keeps me from suffocating on gravel roads. It gives me 32 miles / imp. gal and, in spite of its looks, it’s completely roadworthy.
    Mama’s van is a couple years younger, a little harder on fuel, (28mpg) and the body’s in a little better shape. What she can haul in that I don’t have to haul in my truck, which is a real gas hog.
    Some may argue that old cars don’t have the pollution control gadgetry, and they may be right. But wouldn’t building a new car cause more pollution?


  9. leucisticraccoon says:

    This is actually pretty awesome! I myself am a recycler, I recycle as much as I can because it does good. I don’t buy new things often, I often wear the same clothing for more than a single day *gasp* and I use plastic shopping bags as grocery bags, or else turn them into plarn and either sell it as such, or crochet them and sell the creation.

    Recycling is pretty fun, and it helps me cut back on costs, so it has multiple benefits.


    • Archon's Den says:

      Yes, once you establish the mindset, and get into the process, recycling is easy, rewarding – and a bit of fun.
      The old language geek thanks you for a new word, plarn. Since daughter, LadyRyl (above) is a spinner, crafting yarns out of everything but moonbeams, I immediately understood it, and was surprised I haven’t heard it from her. I must ask if she’s aware of it, or would be interested in learning how to create it. If so, could/would you instruct her?
      I’m also trying to establish meaning for “leucistic”. Dictionary insists on leucitic. Could you please elaborate? 🙂


      • leucisticraccoon says:

        I’m a very bad teacher, to be honest ^_^;

        Leucistic is derived from the word Leucism, which is a genetic condition found in many reptilian and some mammalian species of animal that turns their skin or fur a bright lemony yellow.

        I derived it from the Blond Raccoon, which is a rare yellow raccoon that suffers from the condition.

        I’m a science geek


      • Archon's Den says:

        Daughter is very aware of plarn, its production and uses. It’s just not a discipline she was interested in pursuing. Thanx anyway.
        I’m also a science geek. I need to learn to look farther afield than dictionary.com. This is the fourth word this month I’ve tried to look up that they didn’t list. Google and Wiki were quite helpful.
        Leucitic is, “of, or resembling, mineral Potassium Aluminum Silicon Oxide, KAlSi O6” 🙂


  10. sarahalison27 says:

    Bravo 🙂 🙂


  11. Michelle says:

    Many great ideas here! I have to admit I’m way more wasteful than is like to admit. You’re really making me rethink some things I do!


    • Archon's Den says:

      Like many other things, it’s great, as long as you don’t overdo it. It can reach a point where you’re wasting time and energy, which is worth as much or more than the plastic bags or aluminum foil. 😯


  12. […] my ‘We’re Not Quite Hoarders’ and ‘Autumn Housecleaning’ posts have shown, I/we have been slowly getting rid of […]


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