Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without: Jack and I have made an artform out of frugality. We wash Ziploc bags, use strawberry boxes to hold dish sponges, feed the animals out of old pie tins, and even built a garden statue out of cans once. It was fun. I had to get a tetanus shot.
I save salad and carryout containers of clear plastic to start heirloom tomatoes each February. Tomatoes like a terrarium effect when they first start out, and if you go to Rural King, Tractor Supply, or any of the other awesome farm stores around here, you can buy a plastic tomato starter kit for $20.
Or, you can save your salad and carryout containers of clear plastic, fill them with free dirt from the backyard, and grow heirloom tomatoes from seeds swapped with friends.
Although we like these savings, and it is fun to figure out what strange uses regular household items can serve, my desire to recycle is at war with my wish to not live in a house full of string too short to be saved–carefully labeled in a Danish butter cookie tin. You know the kind of people I’m talking about, little packing peanuts and all.
Yet Marie Kondo never speaks to the guilt of adding to a landfill, of being that worst of Appalachian sins: WASTEFUL. Plus, my observation has been that the week after I get rid of that weird triangular-shaped piece of extra-thick black Styrofoam, I need it for a scarecrow hat. Ask me how I know this. Or the perfect sized cardboard that could have backed an old picture frame, but I had to buy a new one because nothing was thick enough to keep a photo inside it. Or the broken clothes basket that would have made a perfect outdoor bed for the stray hanging around ….
No, in all honesty, Jack and I have given up decluttering and embraced the “hmmm, what can I do with this” camp? You really only need two things to enjoy this lifestyle: a laid-back spouse and a big closet with a sturdy door. Just shove everything in there, no need to organize. Hunting the ripped rubber chicken will lead you past the collection of bubble wrap you’ve been looking for; searches keep locations current. It’s a good system.
And I don’t want you to think Jack and I have lost it completely, but yesterday we started saving dryer lint. I was crocheting a doll for a friend, using the guts of an old dog toy for stuffing; Bruce helped out here; after he eviscerated his sock monkey, I threw the poly-fill in the wash to have on hand for crafty moments.
As I began to run out of Bruce’s contribution, it crossed my mind that dryer lint was very similar….
No, really, we’re fine. It brings us joy to be this nerdy. Go by, mad world.