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Reflections: Making Sure Nothing is Wasted…

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“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

Reflections: Making Sure Nothing is Wasted... even garbage is golden to someone

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?

“Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.” Thomas S. Szasz

By the same token, some of us who live in countries where things are in abundance have a tendency, sometimes, to see things through a somewhat different lens. We compare our efforts to what others have accomplished and diminish our own journey. We think the effort we exerted on a project, assignment, or even a divergent path we took on our personal journey through life was a waste of time. One can understand how we might think this way; especially if others around us are living extravagant lives. But, if we stop to consider the lessons we learned, the friends we made, and, perhaps, where we ended up, we might realize that in life, nothing is wasted.

As long as we understand that nothing in life is a waste and perform our tasks with care, how others react to our best effort might sting, but our work is never wasted. If we can develop the perspective that everything we do/have can be of value to someone or can add joy to another person’s life, then we would be less inclined to view our efforts as a waste … and we would give a bit more generously to others. In all we do, let’s make sure that nothing is wasted.
What are your thoughts? How do you gauge that everything you do is not wasted? Do share. Thank You! 🙂

Positive Motivation Tip: Always do your best and consider your effort a valuable contribution; nothing is wasted.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: Photo of Waste/Garbage Collector In Ouagadougou by Roman Bonnefoy via Wikipedia & Romanceor

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

17 Comments leave one →
  1. 10/04/2011 12:14 am

    Thank you for this.

  2. 10/04/2011 2:05 am

    Great article, I believe that one person has trash that could turn into treasure. I love resale shops and garage sales.

  3. 10/04/2011 7:05 am

    Thank you for such a wonderful post, Elizabeth. You are so right on all your points. It is constantly frustrating to me when people moan and run down their lives because they don’t have this thing or that thing… I sit there thinking your life would be so wonderful if you could enjoy and make the most of what you have.

  4. 10/04/2011 8:44 am

    When I was a child, I was often punished by my parents for leaving food.
    I remembered it.
    I’ll teach my children the importance of food. 🙂

  5. 10/04/2011 8:49 am

    I was in China and Brazil and I was fascinated by how people use every single thing for something else, even when boiling corn, they save the corn broth for another dish. I have never really been one to purchase out of impulse so I don’t have a lot of stuff. I never understood the impulse marketing in the grocery checkout. Why would anyone need most of the stuff located there? I am a thrift store hopper, I love looking at junk.

    • 10/04/2011 10:29 am

      My oldest son lived and studied in Beijing for six months while he was in college. He observed that one of the biggest differences between there and here was the excess here…people do with so much less in other places in the world (and in many places in this country as well).
      By the way, congratulations…you are the winner of the collection of “Easter Basket” of crafty supplies!!!!! I’ll email you and you can answer me with an address where I should send it. 🙂 And, because you are the winner, there will be a special little stuffed bunny as an added surprise!

  6. 10/04/2011 9:02 am

    Beautiful Elizabeth! I have been spending time lately assessing just how wasteful I am with time and things! Thank you!

  7. 10/04/2011 10:19 am

    Spot on, Eliz. 🙂
    I just heard that one or more of the ball parks are going to take part in a “recycling” program of donating end-of-the-day left-over food from the concessions…I believe to their local shelters. This is what all of the fast food places should also do…I know there are liability issues, but when people are starving, they are a little less picky about the fluffiness of the rolls!
    Many chain grocery stores do donate day-old bakery items.
    And it is criminal how much food is THROWN away…at restaurants, stores, homes…I remember my grandmother used to say when my sister and I were very little and didn’t want to finish our milk…”Drink it up, the children in Europe are starving.” Of course, we would answer, “Can we send it to them?” 🙂

    I’m on my way to my book signing…very excited…and a little anxious. 🙂

  8. 10/04/2011 11:14 am

    I like the quote:
    “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.”
    Keeping our eyes on our present, helps us to move forward. Living the past is moving backwards.
    It is true, we waste so much time-when focusing on things of the past. It’s good to cherish our memories, but ones to hinder our growth-is a waste of our time and our energy.

  9. 10/04/2011 11:53 am

    Disciplining oneself not to waste material things and our thoughts is an ongoing process. Being aware, being centered and living in the present moment help contribute to the process. A compassionate way of seeing the world, the lives of others, and your surroundings also help in making the world a better sustained place to live and grow.

  10. 10/04/2011 2:05 pm

    Gosh, Eliz, you never seem to run out of great topics: I once bought an antique high chair simply because I loved the way the wire was wrapped around the split leg. Although I no longer have the high chair, someone else still uses it! I hate, HATE looking at the waste left at the curb. When we travel, I see that people in other countries don’t think of their belongings as “disposable.” Why can’t we?

  11. 10/04/2011 2:19 pm

    I try to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible. And I never shop for recreation.

    Loved this quote:
    “Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.” Thomas S. Szasz

  12. 10/04/2011 11:58 am

    this old car became a good home for birds, pigeons:

  13. 10/04/2011 8:01 pm

    This made me feel guilty and brought the tears. “Feeling sorry for yourself and your present condition is not only a waste of energy, but the worst habit you could possibly have.”
    It is true, but sometimes it is overwhelming.

  14. 10/04/2011 9:17 pm

    I love how indepth every blog entry is 🙂 I can’t even imagine how much time it must take for you to write it and put it all together every day!

    Hmm for me, “no regrets” is definitely an aspiration, but something I admittedly find hard to do. I love the line in the musical/movie Rent – “No day but today”… so true.

  15. 11/04/2011 1:56 am

    Thanks for this post! It tells me that at present, I’m wasting my time wallowing in sorrow. I should get out of it; it accomplishes nothing. I could be doing something more useful with my time.

    I, too, love this quote: “Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.” Thomas S. Szasz

  16. 12/04/2011 5:24 pm

    I’ve been stuck here because I must confess I am not good at preventing waste. I do recycle and dispose of batteries and electronic waste properly and reuse paper but I accumulate a lot at the same time as well. I think the best thing I could do to improve the situation is to learn how to compost. So, perhaps this will be my contribution. (I do want to have a vegetable garden this year anyway!) 🙂

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