Rinsing out the bottles

conservation of resources

The mental health agency I worked for sent me to many seminars thru the years, but one a long time ago stood out in my mind and still does today. It was called Bridges Out of Poverty and the message behind it was to make us aware of how some of our clients think because many of them grew up in a generational poverty situation.  Here’s more about the seminar, which is still being given because it’s so important; maybe you could buy the workbook that went with it if you’re interested in learning more about this. http://destination-home.info/bridges-out-of-poverty/

Many important things about how people think, live, and who  you ARE were taught in the seminar, pointing out the differences in people who have grown up in generational poverty versus generational middle or upper class.  The distinctions were made about families that remained in the same class for three generations.  It discussed how meals are served and what they consist of, how important food is in a poverty class versus upper class, what kinds of lifestyles are so different from one of these groups to another and so many other aspects of everyday life. This seminar really made us think, and made each of us understand our own view of life in a different way.

At that time there was  talk about sustainability and conservation of resources going on across the country, really just getting started. Our society cruised along (prosperous, after the depression and WWII years) for many years not thinking, as a whole, that we needed to conserve much of anything, cos there was always more. Some parts of society had plenty of everything and didn’t think much about those who didn’t. (That’s still true, but it is changing, slowly.)

One thing stuck right out at me in the seminar, and now represents to me one step in the movement toward sustainability and conservation of resources.  People in generational poverty have always done some things we should all have been doing all along. They need to conserve money and things, but more people are realizing that that’s a small part of the big picture of sustainability: we all need to conserve things.  Here’s  a small example, but represents a concept that’s so important.

I grew up in a middle class family, in which generational poverty was just a  generation ago due to the depression and all that went with it.  There was enough money in our household, but not much extra. My parents had worked their way out of generational poverty by learning what their parents taught them about how to conserve…..things, many things.  There’s a good quote from that time, and I don’t know who wrote it, but many people still follow this concept now:  fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. People followed this practice during the depression cos they had to. Now more people, generationally poor or not, are finding out that we all have to.  Our resources are indeed not infinite.

So, at this seminar, I was asked a question that I had never considered before.  Do we rinse out the bottles?  What? The bottles of everyday things: shampoo, dish detergent, body wash, soup in a can, gravy in a jar……do we put a little water in at the end to get every last bit out of the container?  It had never occurred to me that everybody didn’t do that!  I was taught to conserve at a young age: conserve things, and conserve money, cos there might not always be more of everything.  Such a simple thing, saves a few cents and takes maybe a minute.  But it represents so much more to me as I get older and look at the way we are polluting our earth.

Yea, I rinse out the bottles.  It’s become symbolic to me now: rinse out this container and remind myself that there won’t always be more of everything, cos we as a group can’t continue to live like there will be.

OK, off the soapbox for now.  Oh yea, except, don’t forget to recycle that container once you rinse it out!

4 responses to “Rinsing out the bottles

  1. I feel rich when I know I have food in the pantry. Thats because far too many times there wasn’t any food over my lifetime.

    • I tend to keep a lot of food on hand, I think cos I heard my parents’ stories of their childhoods. Bargains, and space to store things feel like insurance to me.

  2. I rinse out bottles and do anything else I can to make things stretch as far as they can go. Recycling is so important. A great and important post!

    • Thanks Jackie. I stretch everything as far as I can too. It just makes sense to me not to waste things, whatever they are. And recycling, oh yes. I’m happy our town just increased what we could recycle about a year ago and it feels good to see stuff go in the recycle bin instead of the trash.

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