Keep Calm and Waste Less!!

Consider a few things the most celebrated minds have said about life~

We have lost contact with reality, the simplicity of life. -Paulo Coelho
Like all magnificent things, it’s very simple. – Natalie Babbit (Of Tuck Everlasting, in case I’m a solitary fan!)
One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

The other day after my children had left for school (they have a school bus pick up), I was washing up the breakfast dishes when I saw a young girl, about 8, scooting to the neighbouring school with her mother. She swerved off the sidewalk and went skidding into a parked car at which point I rushed out to see if I could offer any assistance with First-Aid! Well, she wasn’t too badly hurt, but heavily soiled from the wetness on the road. Her mother had a small bag she said had her classmate’s clothes from a previous play date that she was returning and said it was well and good that she thought of returning it on the day she needed a spare set for her daughter. I was left gobsmacked at the daughter’s reaction who screamed, yes, screamed that she can’t even dream of wearing “Primark clothes” to school! She demanded to be taken home for a change or she wasn’t going to school at all! After I picked my jaw off the floor and repositioned it, I asked the rather flabergasted mum if I can help in any way.. to which she asked if I had any Desigual, Scandi or Joules clothes she could borrow for a day. I walked up to my childrens’ closet feeling a slow heat build up in my mind about the kind of upbringing children were learning to associate good parenting with nowadays, or worse, what parents thought was good parenting! Don’t get me wrong, I overindulge in clothes for my children, it’s my Achilles’ Heel, but the minute they begin associating their self worth with it, they’ll be wearing refashioned pillow-cases until they regenerated a few brain cells. Whilst it’s something most of us would digest without a blink whilst discussing the sartorial habits of a Beckham child or Prince George of Cambridge, it seemed surreal to associate  it with someone you would place in a relatively close world to yourself! This tacit acceptance of snobbery from an 8 year old honed in on possibly the worst attributes of middle-class suburbia.

I often ask myself why have we, the generation that really lives in the land of excess, forgotten about the relative simplicity of life and the economy of choice in our goji-acai-cacti juice-blend existences?!

WW2 Queues that waited hours for their weekly rations!
WW2 Queues that waited hours for their weekly rations! Pic Credits : The BBC Archives

For a few months now (as I’ve mentioned before) I’ve been intrigued by the lifestyle of the war generation. The times of rations, of cutbacks, of needs before wants and the impact it had on happiness, on longevity. (Before I’m pinned down and lynched, I’d like to state that that I take a segmented look at a very large situation- my commentary is limited only to the food and frugal habits of the generation that stayed home from the frontlines of battle and made do.) It’s hardly any secret that though they had less -[one egg, one pound of meat, and four ounces of fish a week; one quarter pint of milk a day; four ounces of margarine a month; and limited amounts of potatoes, vegetables, and bread that they grew and baked themselves, coupled with strenuous wartime physical work], rationing improved the health of the British people; infant mortality declined and life expectancy rose, discounting deaths caused by war hostilities, of course. This was because it ensured that everyone had access to a varied diet with enough vitamins. The concept of overeating was a luxury hardly anyone could afford and the curse of childhood obesity was unheard of!


Wartime Rations, eggs, milk, bacon, margarine, lard, butter, egg, meat, milk
Wartime Rations- Pic Courtesy BBC Archives

Consider the shocking and in many ways, shaming statistics of our own times. A recent survey showed Britons are binning the equivalent of 24 meals a month, adding up to 4.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year that was fit enough to have been consumed. Apparently, a half of this  goes right from the refrigerator or cupboards into the bin. One-fifth of what households buy ends up as waste, and around 60% of that was deemed fit for consumption! In short, 2 billion tonnes of perfectly good supermarket food wasted every year just as our otherwise quite philanthropic side did our best to give to the underpriveleged. I’ve always thought that the British people champion the underdog, run to raise money for Sports Relief, for Cancer Awareness, for Alzheimers! I’ve done it, my children have.  And yet, we often turn a blind-eye to the obvious waste of resources we’re all guilty of under our very noses.  In our home, we’ve resolved to limit waste regarding food and make things go longer as much as possible. While we’re busy throwing away perfectly edible food and wondering how to deal with our waste, 9 million people are dying every year because of hunger and malnutrition. 5 million of these are children! We can’t afford to waste the way we do… most of us , even with the least mindful thriftiness, would find ourselves freeing up a few quid to just spend wisely, if nothing else! I’m not against spending, I’m against waste! 🙂

I’m not even vaguely suggesting that we all take to retro-styled living, fold up our iPads, unhook the Wi-Fi, grab the nearest ‘ditsy print’ apron and begin canning and making the most scrumptious of pies ; I wouldn’t last a day in that life, unless the party was wholly sponsored by the good folk over at Cath Kidston!  I ask to consider a few things we can do that are fun, achievable and send a strong message to our children…Recycle! Not just waste, but clothes and shoes and everything else. Pass on more, bin less. Obsolescence is one of man’s worst constructs! Our children are slowly losing the ability to live on less, and in what can only be described as fragile economy, you never know when all of us might have to seriously rethink our spending habits! Remember, our children’s generation is going to one of those who do worse than their parents.

Recycle waste, it doesn't have to feed the pigs! ;P
Recycle waste, it doesn’t have to feed the pigs! ;P Pic Credits : The BBC Archives

I tend to buy small cans of things that I know I’m not too good with…for eg., Peas…I’ve tried buying fresh peas and shelling them and have thrown more than I’ve used. Tinned food doesn’t have to be bad food, you get lovely quality vegetables canned, and organic vegetables tinned in spring water! Buy less, waste less…don’t get sucked into discount-marketing that makes us bulk-buy. Stick with non-perishables for that, less is more with fresh produce! 🙂

Plan meals, waste less
Plan meals, waste less! Pic Credits : The BBC Archives

I came across this years ago in my college library and I wrote it down in my diary; it was advice a Kentucky grandmother gave a bride for doing laundry in 1912. It went like this :
Bild fire in back yard to heet kettle of rainwater.
Set tubs so smoke won’t blow in eyes if wind is pert.
Shave one hole cake lie soap in boilin water.
Sort things, make three piles. 1 pile white. 1 pile cullord. 1 pile work britches and rags.
To make starch stur flour in cold water to smooth then thin down with boilin water.
Rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, then boil. Rub cullord but don’t boil — just rench and starch.
Take white things out of kettle with broom stick handle then rench, blew and starch.
Spred tee towels on grass.
Hang old rags on fence.
Pour rench water in flower bed.
Scrub porch with hot soapy water.
Turn tubs upside down.
Go put on cleen dress, smooth hair with side combs, brew cup of tee — set and rest a spell and count your blessins.

There seems nothing ‘natural’ in that for us, we are so far from that sort of domestic slavery that it makes me smile! Ours is the life is savouring puréed misshapen roots from farmers’ markets, garnished with sweet Maui onions!  Our savvier home-keeping, whilst celebratory, hasn’t been immune from a different form of decline. It’s not just how we eat today that’s changed, it’s also what we eat!

Buy as much as you need!
Buy as much as you need! Pic Credits : The BBC Archives

When I think back to stories I’ve heard in my own family and from families of my closest friends, different cultures notwithstanding, most families kept to a weekly food pattern, eating the same foods on the same day of the week. What was cooked each day depended on the leftovers from the previous day! Old fashioned home and hearth skills – the ability to run a household economically and efficiently was at the heart of every homemaker’s agenda! Amazingly, those very war years were a period of greatly improved nutrition for most people, despite the perceived deprivation. Many were healthier than they had ever been before.
Mindful eating and growing your own vegetables, which meant you ate more veg than wheat and meat, had played a part in staving off weight related ailments and other maladies our generation is plagued with! Slogans like ‘Make Do and Mend’  appeared on posters all over the country, and became catchphrases of the time. What was inspirational for one generation seems to be the most unaspirational for ours, a very misplaced and detrimental trend!

Buy Local, Eat less, Live Better!
Buy Local, Eat less, Live Better! Pic Credits : The BBC Archives

Just because we can chose from over a typical amount of 160 different moisturisers, shampoos or bodywashes at any typical supermarket doesn’t mean we have to. Most of the times, the truth is plain before us, we don’t need ‘research papers’ to bring home the point! 🙂 Life is happiest when it’s it’s least encumbered… the paradox of choice is that it’s left us “bewildered and depressed” according to The Telegraph. Let’s Think More, Waste Less and make what we have go longer. For all our sakes! x

If you’ve liked what you’ve read, could I please ask of you to nominate me for the Britmums BiB Awards for Fresh Voice, Photo or Writer, the three categories I think I fit best! Please vote here . Thanks so much! 🙂

Keep Calm and Waste Less was featured in the Britmums Newbie Roundup!

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  1. Alex says

    My, my… I hope you told that mum where to go & sent her off to instil some morals into her child. Disgusting. We all like lovely clothes but that’s taking the biscuit. Grr. Loved this blog, agree wholeheartedly with every word 😉 nice one Kanch. X

  2. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Thanks Alex, I said she knows her fashion, and the sarcasm was a bit lost. 😉 Different strokes for different folks, I guess! Thank you for liking the post, it’s nice (as always)to hear from you! 🙂 xx

  3. says

    When things like that happened when I was in England (and it did happen), you ignore it because you expect that sort of behaviour from people who have in excess. Coming from the third world, I know this is an extremely racist way of looking at things. However, I’ve started to notice that a lot of Indians are doing that as well. Adults, mostly. But maybe I’ve noticed it more now because I’m exposed to a different type of crowd. Being a child of social workers, we have never indulged in brands. I have 3 pairs of shoes – One for running, one for formals and one for Indian wear. I have t-shirts and kurtas I’ve worn for over 10 years, the one I am wearing right now is one I bought for JNC, which was 8 years ago. And every few months, we go through the shelf again and give away clothes we don’t need. I’m pretty sure I got laughed at a lot (I was blissfully unaware of this) but now it’s considered extremely ‘indie’ and stylish. I still cringe, though, when something is wasted. Our overfull fridge will tell you horror tales of how we are really bad at throwing things out unless there really is no hope to salvage it. LOVE this post, as always!

  4. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    I think the fact that you’ve had a very strong personality is highlighted in the way you seem to have made life’s choices (and I’ve seen you through some of your grwing years to testify to that!) 🙂 I feel slavish brand following is a form of insecurity! I’m a brand loyalist, so I’m not rubbishing having companies who you favor…I tend to stick with a few I trust, or maybe I’m just a dull bore! ;P. I think waste has come to signify the acceptance of the fact that we have plenty.. it’s a detrimental trend borne out of survival, and probably why you see it in urban Indians..the one’s who’ve “made it”! A very disturbing trend seeing that we actually have the resources to end poverty but we can’t! I suppose this article is a call to action to do a personal best, and it’s very little effort, really! Always a pleasure to hear from you, A! Thank you for stopping by 🙂 xx

  5. says

    I think in the U.S., we are seeing a lot of my generation (mid-30s) taking up homesteading hobbies and getting back to basics in lots of ways. Don’t get me wrong, I see a lot of snobbish entitlement as well, but I have lots of friends who are into raising or growing and canning their own food, distilling their own spirits, making their own clothing – even learning to weave and tap trees for syrup. I wish more folks would take up these hobbies. You get a sense of pride in ownership when you’ve cultivated something yourself, and I think you are less likely to just throw it in the trash.

    Great post! Thanks for linking up with the MaMade Blog Hop!

  6. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    I’m very pleased about this “neo-sobriety”, I suppose we have the failure of capitalism to thank for the trend! 🙂 Plus, it really does make us value things a bit more. I doubt Id be very good with doing this myself as I’m pretty dull with my hands, so I try to not be wasteful in my bid to live more meaningfully! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your lovely thoughts! 🙂 xxx

  7. says

    I’m haunted by that vision of the child rejecting your clothes, and the mother demanding particular barnds when you offered to help. The cheek of it! That’s disgraceful behaviour. I completely agree with the idea of ‘mend and make do’. It’s better for our planet, our finances and, in my views, our souls (I’m atheist, so not quite sure exactly what I mean by that last point….but perhaps it makes sense???)

  8. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    She rejected her friend’s clothes, Nell, I had to go fish out something that might fit her that might be a brand she approved! 🙂 It was ridiculous that her mother thought that was acceptable behaviour! I think in the long run, our planet and our finances will cave if we continue this way, so in my own little way, I’d like to get the word out that let’s not waste what we have…spend by all means, but spend well!

  9. says

    Crikey that child sounds like a complete and UTTER spoiled brat! Well done on going out to help though. A great post and I thought the last couple of paragraphs were very, very true. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

  10. says

    The story of that girl which doesnt like Primark is… so low. My family and i are struggling in the past months. The same money that can buy us a lot of grocery before can i only buy few items. Wasting food is a no-no in this house. Those small crumbs are given to the pigeons outside and we batch cook and I make sure i divide the food in small portions for less waste.

    I am ashamed sometimes that I cant buy decent clothes or dress up well. When i went to stores the guards follow me because I probably fit the shoplifter profile.

    I support this cause. I value food because I know how hard it is to earn money to buy them.


  11. says

    Goodness what a spoilt child. It is worrying really. I am trying to be a bit thriftier and find meal planning a great way of reducing kitchen waste…but am ashamed to say we still seem to throw away quite a bit. Great post. Thanks for linking to the #pinitparty. Have pinned

  12. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Merlinda : Thank you for your sincere, honest opinion. I agree with you…things should be valued. Part of our culture of waste is that we’ve taken for granted for other generations, and indeed a large part of our population struggled for. Your children and family are blessed to have you…as I’m sure you understand the meaning of what’s truly important in life. Sending you the warmest wishes and thank you for taking the time to read. xx

  13. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Thank you for stopping by….I think we’re all guilty of the same, despite our earnest efforts! I suppose information is key, you can’t always be 100% but 80 is good too 🙂 x

  14. says

    Vital post and we are guilty are wasting a lot too but it’s time for a change. Thanks for this. Please do add my badge or link back!

  15. says

    What a spoilt little girl!! I am so conscious of waste. I buy a lot of frozen stuff so it doesn’t spoil quickly. If it looks like the veg in the fridge is going, I blend it onto a big soup and freeze it. I freeze leftovers all the time and use my common sense rather than best before dates. My kids have 2nd hand stuff sometimes, because kids grow so quickly the clothes still look Fab, and everyone comments on how well dressed they are!! A really well written and thought provoking post, and love the pictures! Going to add this to my page of posts I love!! #lab

  16. says

    What a thought-provoking and heart-felt piece. I agree totally with all that you said and find food waste one of the most shocking things about our society now. I live in France where in general there is more focus on buying locally and daily from the markets (though of course there are massive superstores pushing you to buy more than you need) and from my experience kids are a little more innocent for longer. Even though I live in a very privileged area I don’t know any kids who would even be aware of the brand they’re wearing aged 8. Teenagers yes of course but not as young as 8. The story about the clothes sickened me to the stomach. Keep writing like this and maybe little by little attitudes will change! Well done! #LAB

  17. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Sadly, kids in suburban England are getting very conscious of what they ‘have’! I do feel the rest of Europe is a fair bit more relaxed at this stage, barring those who can afford baby stylists! Disturbing trend especially in our economy… more and more graduates can’t afford to move on and end up staying with their parents. They need self-sufficiency skills, the one thing our society seems to be losing their grip on. It’s no longer about all you can have, but what you can do with what you do have!

  18. says

    I am shocked at the child’s reaction and that the mum accepted it, my daughter is 7, lives in London and doesn’t have a clue what brand she wears as most of her clothes are hand-me-downs or bought second hand, so she gets whatever. That way I don’t stress when she ruins here clothes playing outside and climbing trees. The amount of waste does sadden me, we do a weekly meal plan to avoid wastage wherever possible, and it does make a difference.

  19. says

    Blimey, I’m astounded the mum let’s the child get away with behaviour like that. Does seem like madness.

    My son has a lot of new clothes (predominantly supermarket as he’s at nursery and gets filthy all the time), but also a lot of nearly new, and handmedowns. My friend buys him stuff in larger sizes from charity shops (the ones by me are rubbish for kids clothes), posts them down, he wears them, then if they’re still in a reasonable state (usually they’re fine), they get sent back to her for her son who’s 18 months younger.

    Food’s a hard one – I really want it to be legal to feed our pigs (we have some each year for sausages/pork for our family) our peelings, as that would help with veg/salad waste. I try and plan ahead, but it doesn’t always work, although I do try with leftovers going in the freezer or being the next day’s lunch. My son was eating leftover macaroni for breakfast one day last week.

    I think people definitely need to think and plan more, and appreciate what can be avoided on waste.

  20. says

    Oh my goodness; I am utterly appalled both at the behaviour of the child AND the mother requesting specific brands.

    We hate wasting anything. We tend to meal plan and will always try to use up things that need using up before we purchase other food stuff. We bulk cook to avoid wastage and save time. We recycle wherever possible and give unwanted toys/books/clothes to charity. Similarly, family will pass down stuff they no longer need to us wherever possible; one of the many benefits of having two boy cousins just a couple of years older than my son! Whilst we do all of this, I can’t help but think there probably is more we could do!

    Great post!

  21. says

    Makes me so sad reading about that child. You can get really nice clothes cheap now my kids wear a lot of supermarket and high street clothing but are always clean and tidy and half the time you wouldn’t guess how much it cost! I hate wasting food! But we are guilty of that in my house. Any meat that is going out of date gets stuck in the freezer and I tend to use frozen or tinned veg mostly for the reasons you said. With two toddlers sometimes I just want to prepare a meal quickly but I’m trying now to work around wasting food by finding longer lasting alternatives. I also try to recycle a lot and even have some up cycling projects planned for some old furniture this year 🙂

  22. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    It’s most heartening for me to see that I’m not alone in my parenting standards! Well done, ladies! We might have a fairly decent crop of teenagers yet! 🙂

  23. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Thank you so much…I’ll look into it asap! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! xx

  24. says

    I love this post, we should look back and take heed. Our lives are so much easier and we take so much for granted, but we really should go back to basics sometimes, particularly where food is concerned, so much wastage is really unacceptable.
    As for designer clothing, not something we are familiar with in our house, although I’ll admit that I don’t buy from Primark for several reasons.

  25. says

    Wow that is shocking, what a spoilt child! Although we dont shop at Primark i have nothing against the clothing and would happily wear it if i didnt have any other clothes

    Stopping by from LAB club x

  26. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    I agree with you’ll, I don’t either but I would hang my head in shame if my children ever acted like this…and had such reservations at the tender age of 8! 🙂

  27. says

    Wow! This was packed full of such great information. I try not to waste, but I know I can do better. And almost all of our kids clothes are given to us. They go through about 6 more girls and then we pass them on (if they have wear left in them.) Most of us have so much! Thanks for linking up with the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board!


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