“Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy. You can’t build on it, it’s only good for wallowing in.” Katherine Mansfield
No Regrets: A Series of Thoughts On the Usefulness of What Others Might Consider Waste/Garbage
Sometime last summer, I met a friend for lunch at a restaurant in the city. As we sat on the patio enjoying our meal, there was a steady stream of people walking by chatting, munching on snacks, tossing half eaten fruit or an unfinished drink in a garbage receptacle nearby. We noticed that the bread baskets placed on occupied tables often went untouched. Everywhere we turned, it seemed as if a competition on excess was in progress. My friend and I, out of curiosity, asked the waiter what became of the bread and he said that once people touched the food, it had to be tossed as per Dept of Health guidelines. Why not serve less or ask people if they even wanted the bread basket? He agreed to pass the suggestion on…. We finished our meal and left. We were glad we said something; no regrets. Do you recycle? How do we contribute to waste? Are we careful to make sure that in everything we do, nothing is wasted?
“Feeling sorry for yourself and your present condition is not only a waste of energy, but the worst habit you could possibly have.” Dale Carnegie
Recently, I was reminiscing with a friend about things we learned and observed growing up. I spent part of my life in West Africa and one thing I remember is how nothing was wasted… Actually, both my mom and my grandmothers were quick to tell us to “make sure that nothing is wasted.” Remember mealtimes back when your mom would say don’t waste your food, children in ____ have not eaten all day? We heard that too. But in addition, we observed how people used what others consider garbage to create new and original products.
There was an originality and ingenuity that people had, and instead of sitting around feeling sorry about what they didn’t have, they created things out of bric-à-brac. I remember seeing flip flops made out of worn out car tires. Empty metal food cans used to serve water or bake/steam pies, and empty alcohol bottles used as containers for roasted peanuts… The list goes on.
Plus, if you’ve ever traveled through an area that has a shantytown, you would be amazed at the ways people use their meager resources, and items they find, to create homes or even arts and crafts to sell on the streets. Nothing is wasted… So, when I look at the picture above, a garbage collector in Ouagadougou, be sure that everything on his cart will be put to good use… Nothing will be wasted. How attentive are you to waste around you?