I grew up in a less than average household in terms of financial status. The only time we weren't shopping for second-hand clothing was when my grandma would spoil us on the holidays or our birthdays. A large portion of our family's meals came from the leftovers I would "steal" from my fast food job at the age of 14. I remember my mom cutting moldy pieces off of cheese and bread, then feeding them to us anyway. We learned to conserve everything!
Over the years, I drifted towards a more wasteful lifestyle. As a young adult, I was making more money than both of my parents combined. I started purchasing luxury purses, cars, motorcycles; you name it! I'm sure a big part of that was because I never had those things as a kid.
But, as they say, "Easy come, easy go". You see, I had a lot of things, but I didn't ever learn financial responsibility. At the time, I hadn't invested in really anything long-term. Then, once I left that lifestyle behind me, I was working a minimum-wage job, having financial flashbacks from when I was a kid. What was I going to eat? How was I going to pay my rent? I certainly wasn't going to reach out to friends, family or the government for assistance, so what was I to do?
Thankfully, I've always been resourceful, which brings us to today. Although I consider myself financially stable, I'm by no means "rich" in terms of status. This is where I've become increasingly grateful for my once-thought-of, poor, upbringing.
Gardening, sewing, fixing cars and cooking were some of the few things I learned as a kid. At the time, I wasn't even aware that people paid big bucks to have these things done; we just did most of it at home. The car needed an oil change? Cool. We did it at home. Lunches for me and my brother? No problem, we made those too. My jeans had a rip or needed to be tailored a size smaller? We sewed them. I could go on.
I've always been a fan of cooking, but I didn't really realize, that even as conservative as I was being with my food waste, I was still wasting. Things we're just taught to do; cut off carrot tops, and throw them away. Scoop seeds out of squash, throw them away. Make a pot of coffee, throw the grounds in the trash. It was just habit.
But, when I started questioning why I was throwing things away, my answer was always, "because that's how we've always done it!" There was no reason other than "tradition". But, wait, it was tradition for me to eat meat, dairy and eggs, then after realizing the harm they have, I switched that attitude, so why was I not practicing all of my principles in all of my actions? I was presented with a dilemma.
Not too long ago, I had gardener and food waste reduction wizard, Liz Murphy on the podcast to talk about all the ways we could reduce waste. One of the world's biggest mottos, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" was altered into her version of, "Refuse, Reduce, Reuse" as she pointed out the flaws in our recycling programs across the world. I guess I never thought about refusing things to eliminate waste.
In the episode, she talked about using every part of every fruit, vegetable and grain. She mentioned refusing things that didn't fit this mantra. And she even gave some gardening and cooking tips to those of us with a less-than-green thumb. I thought I knew a lot about reducing waste, but she blew me away!
In this era, we're all pretty aware of plastic's impact on the environment. Many companies are saying "no" to plastic straws, or at least replacing them with paper ones. Oat milks are now available in cardboard versions, and people are starting to wake up. Unfortunately, where most people (including myself at one point) fail, is that they believe as long as they put plastic in the recycle bin, they're doing the planet justice. Boy, was I wrong!
In this episode with Liz, she mentions all the areas we can improve in to improve the health of our planet and it's future, while living more conscious lives.