Reading Hints from Heloise in this morning’s paper reminded me that the passing of depression-era members of our population does not mean the end of our appetite for how to do things better, cheaper or more efficiently. While Martha Stewart has her own special arsenal of how-to tips, they’ll never be as folksy and down-to-earth as those carried on by Heloise’s daughter in her syndicated newspaper column.
As Boomers and Gen X’ers, we have a lot to learn about saving the planet from the Greatest Generation who never wasted an atom if it could be re-used. Is there a Boomer who doesn’t remember her Dad patching her brown rubber boots with a cheese-grater thingie, a rubber patch and some glue. Sometimes we wrapped our shoes in waxed paper inside our boots to help keep our shoes and feet dry until Dad got around to fixing them. And when the soles of his own shoes got too thin, he bought a piece of thick leather, cut it to fit, removed part of the old sole and tacked on a new one. That’s a far cry from today’s world where we have closets full of footwear that we simply chuck into the garbage when we’re tired of them.
One household hint in today’s paper struck me as particularly interesting and thought I should share it with you. Fay Mayfield from Kentucky says, “I use tea-bag covers as little note-papers and never run out. Also, the string tags are great for price tags at yard sales and such.” Why didn’t I think of that? Or what about the suggestion from Charlene in Pennsylvania to take damaged air mattresses, cut them open and use them as tarp covers for outdoor items during winter. I should put her in touch with my Dad who could go one better and show her how to repair those leaks in air mattresses.
Heloise’s hints serve to remind all of us that we could be doing so much more to reduce, reuse and recycle. Starting immediately, instead of taking clothes to Goodwill I’m going to cut them into pieces, put them into my blender until they turn to pulp and then make paper. This works particularly well for denim jeans and other cotton items (you can Google how-to) but polyester may require me to melt the items down in the microwave until I have a blob of plastic. I suppose if I catch it while it’s still hot and pliable, I could make cups, jewelry or even furniture. Old curtains, bedspreads or blankets could be treated as yard-goods and using my forty-five-year-old Singer sewing machine, I could whip up an entirely new wardrobe that would be completely original and unlike anything anyone else is wearing.
If my husband’s socks are beyond darning, I could unravel them, Google “Learn to knit” and knit him new ones. Before I turn those tea bags into note paper, I will also now make an effort to re-use them several times, squeezing every drop of flavour out for as long as the bag holds up. Leftover food could be thrown in a pot with old KFC chicken bones and used to make delicious soups such as salad soup, overripe banana soup or french fry soup (as if there are ever any left-over french fries at our house).
There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement in my daily lifestyle practices. Those of us who are lucky enough to still have our parents have access to a gold-mine of information. Pay attention when they put those coffee grounds in the garden instead of the garbage or keep using towels until they no longer have a nap. Those worn-out towels can be remade into lovely blouses or underwear. Leftover slivers of hand soap can be compressed into a single multi-coloured bar with a rare and exotic fragrance. The plastic sleeves my morning paper comes in could be glued together for a stylish rain poncho. The possibilities are endless. Just ask Heloise—or me. Starting today, I’m turning over a whole new “green” tea leaf.
For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, order my new book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read. Click on this link: http://www.lulu.com or http://www.amazon.com