Late Summer 2008
I heard the phrase 'Waste not, want not' a lot when I was growing up. My mother said it so often that I pretty much tuned it out and never really stopped to think what it meant -- until I became a mother myself and concerned about my children's future on our resource-depleted planet.
When I recently found myself one lemon short of a lemon pie, the realities of waste really hit home. Here I was driving my car to the store for a lemon, when all around me were lemon trees in people's yards that (judging by their fruit-laden branches and the number of lemons rotting on the ground) looked as if they hadn't been touched for years. Driving past a neighbor whose classic wooden boat (circa 1956) sat untouched in his yard until it was unsalvageable, I really began to ponder the consequences of waste in earnest. (Putting all those lemons to good use was one thing, but oh, the fun I could have had with that boat!)
Of all the well-meaning platitudes and legitimately helpful 'green living' programs our children may encounter today, nothing brings the message home more powerfully than how we ourselves live. I think of the message our website coordinator communicates to her daughters when she has them help her put their surplus tangerines into sacks they deliver to Chinaberry ('share what you don't need'). Or our customer service rep who brings us the excess greens and veggies from her uncle's garden. What an example she is to her nieces and nephews. And nobody gives of herself more than Chinaberry's founder, Ann, who has a rule to give away old clothing whenever she buys new.
As we come to realize that the natural resources we've been taking for granted are not as endless as we once thought, let's be inspired by these everyday people who share their bounty. Just as lemons, tangerines, and greens are meant to nourish our bodies, boats are meant to be sailed, and clothes are meant to be worn, our lives are supposed to demonstrate our values to the next generation. If we don't show them the importance of not letting resources go to waste, what kind of future awaits them?