When I was a little girl, both of my grandmother’s saved margarine tubs, whipped topping containers, reused aluminum foil, and even washed the plastic bags that bread came in, turned them inside out to dry and reused them. One of my grandmothers was known to scrape the black off of burnt toast and serve it, and I once even saw her eat a banana so black that I wouldn’t have used it for banana bread!! “You don’t waste food,” she told me.
My father’s mother, Mildred Porter, was born in 1902. My mother’s mother, Maclovia Villereal, was born in 1916. They both lived through The Great Depression, but came from vastly different backgrounds and were at different stages in their lives. My grandma Mildred, was a young mother, with the responsibility of keeping food on the table for her children. My grandmother, Maclovia, who went by the name of Maxine, was a teenager at the beginning of the depression, and by the time those dark days ended, was in her early 20’s. Yet, for both of them, that depression era mentality of not being wasteful was ingrained in their behavior to the day they died.
As a child growing up in more prosperous times, I thought it was funny to wash bread bags and foil, then hang them up to dry. The margarine tubs and cool whip containers were more reasonable and something I’ve always done. They’re convenient for sending leftovers home with guests, if I’m out of plastic containers. But, bread bags and foil…I didn’t get it.
And today, with all that’s going on in the world, I find myself doing many of the same things. I’m washing jars and instead of tossing them in the recycling bin, I’m putting them aside…’just in case’. Yogurt containers that I’d normally throw away, I’m washing and storing…’just in case’. I’m saving my butter wrappers to grease bread pans with, and I’m using cloth napkins instead of disposable napkins, and using dish-towels and rationing paper towels, and serving almost every meal on glass plates. Why? Just in case… Not because we’re broke…at least not yet, but because we can’t get them.
Food, and daily necessities have become precious, in a way that we’ve forgotten that they should be all of the time. For many people, it’s already a matter of financial necessity, but for everyone it’s a matter of access. We don’t know when we’ll be able to get toilet paper again, or diapers. Will there be mayonnaise on the grocery shelves this week? Will they be out of chicken in the meat department? (It was three grocery orders before I got fresh chicken!)
We’re cooking more, rationing more, appreciating small things…I mean, who ever thought you’d be so excited to get a package of toilet paper??
Things have changed, and we don’t know for how long. Will this be a permanent change? Will these new habits become ingrained in our behavior? What about our children?
And would that be a good thing? And while we don’t want to become hoarders, maybe we should continue to conserve, to waste less and appreciate more.
So, what do you find yourself doing now that you didn’t Before? Are you saving containers? Rationing? And do you think that some of these changes will be permanent for you and your family? I’d like to know…
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