When I was in Jr high, I did my own laundry if I wanted it done at all, and sometimes it didn’t get done until I had absolutely nothing left to wear!  One night I was getting things ready for the next day and realized that the shirt I wanted to wear was dirty.  I grabbed one out of the hamper and tossed it in the washer, and then the dryer all by its little old itself.  I didn’t think much of it.  I was a typical teen, thinking more of myself than my parents finances, much less the earth!

My mom walked in, looked at my empty load with one lone item and said, “Vicki!” with that look of shame that she is so good at.

“It is a waste of water, a waste of electricity and of time that we could have had a full load of laundry put in with it. If you don’t have anything else that needs to be cleaned someone else around here does.” Needless to say, I felt pretty bad.

Before “green” was popular, this is one of the many ways we were to reduce, reuse and recycle when we were growing up.  We walked or rode our bikes to our friends house or to the store instead of getting a ride in the car.  That would have been a waste of gas.  We were taught to turn off lights when no one was in the room, and to actually unplug the TV and other items when they were not in use, not just turn off the power.  We lived in one house with 16 kids and were told how every little bit helps.

Exterior doors were to be kept closed to keep in the heat or cool where it was supposed to be depending on the season.  The heater was kept on low in the winter, and we had a  wood burning stove, that we had to feed with wood if our parents weren’t at home, if we wanted to stay warm and cozy.  Sometimes we would forget and suddenly be chilly and have to start it up again. Personal fans or space heaters would have been considered a luxury.

In addition to these things we always reused grocery bags until they had too many tears to  be used again. We reused our personal bath towels, hanging them to dry in our bedrooms. We were taught not to be wasteful with water from the tap, and especially not to be wasteful with food.  These are teachings that have been handed down from an era when there wasn’t so much excess as our families have today.  At the time people weren’t really thinking about the impact on the earth, the landfills, and the ozone.

We try to teach our children all of these things not only for the goodness of the our Mother Earth but  as a way of showing an appreciation of what we have been blessed with.  We now make an even greater effort to recycle whatever we can and cut down our waste, as well as conserve water by having a time limit on showers, being responsible in watering our yard and even teaching the kids to use a minimal amount for brushing teeth, shaving, etc.  I have even cleaned out and reused zipper lock bags for leftovers, and sometimes even disposable drinking cups, especially the good quality ones.  There is something in me that won’t let me throw things away that can be reused. Even when I donate clothing and other items to the local thrift store I rack my brain to see if I can drum up any ideas for re-purposing any items for another use.

We recently asked our kids to submit any ideas they could come up with to recycle, or reduce use. Allie had the idea of reusing plates by flipping them upside down. We let her know that was great thinking but a little overdone. We had ideas from removing some of our light bulbs in areas were we don’t need all the light, to collecting all of our cardboard for separate recycling. The little girls even decided to “upcycle” come items for Christmas decorations.  Feel free to share any ideas that have worked for your family.

Check out this tree using ‘upcycled’ materials made by Kady using items she found around the house!

This entry was posted in Daily Routine, Homemaking with the Dargers, Parenting, Polygamy. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Conserving

  1. Emily says:

    First off, let me start by saying that you guys are amazing! I just love your blog! My children have a passion for recycling thanks to a program at school and our family kind of ran with it. Its so refreshing to see parents teach their children the importance of taking care of our earth because our babies are the ones that have to deal with the messes we are leaving! I am guilty of reusing things that most people wouldn’t (zip log bags, paper plates, plastic cups, etc) but if you’re a family on a budget you do what you need to do to cut costs! I’m sure my kids think I’m nuts but when they have families of their own they will appreciate these little things.. just like i do!

  2. teresa gower says:

    I shared this on Twitter but wanted to do it here too. I found that food waste is very hard for me to except. We never have left overs because I never referred to them as anything but dinner. I use caned and frozen vegetables and never throw out the cooking liquids or the liquid from the cans. I freeze it along with any leftover vegs in gal zip bags. when I have a bag or two depending on how many will be there to eat, I put them in a large stock pot add some beef soup base or left over gravy or both bits of left over roast or meatloaf. add a few fresh carrots and potatoes and cabbage. a big pan of corn bread and we have a hot hearty soup on a cold night. I found that starting in the kitchen helped us learn to reuse, use up, and recycle.

  3. Chris Nystrom says:

    Where do you click “like” on here? :)

  4. Kay Guzman says:

    I had a house fire 1 1/2 years ago and when we moved back home I replaced all of my light bulbs with the new cfl type. I have not had to change one single bulb in a year. Before I was changing at least 5 or 6 a month. My electric bill has decreased by at least 50$ a month for a 2200 sq. house with 7 people. I have also started making my own laundry soap and liquid hand soap. I have made 15 gallons of laundry soap for less than 10$. I try to reuse or recycle everything I can. We collect rain water for the plants. I have a low water washer. And plan on doing a clothesline for the spring.

    • Vivian says:

      How do you make soap?! All I know how to do is make soap (and other grocery items) free with coupons. ;-) But making it sounds even more reliable, fun and rewarding. :-)

  5. Rella Vaughn says:

    I hate buying things I know will just be thrown out, this includes wrapping paper. so I make gifts bags from material scraps. Very simple cloth bags that tie w a satin ribbon. We reuse them over and over again.

  6. missy says:

    For my kids and I we never have leftovers, we take what’s left to our neighbors who are elderly and disabled. It makes the kids happy. I always pass down the girls clothing. It saves money by passing them down. I made cloth diapers and bibs. We only use lightbulbs that are energy savers and last for up to 7 years. We also have removed the lightbulbs from rooms that don’t really need them. We hang our personal yield as well. We limit time on our showers and turn the water off while washing and only use it to rinse. We recycle and reuse soda and water bottles.

  7. Paweł Szulik says:

    Well said, Vicky.

    We sometimes don’t see how much energy, food, etc. we waste. And we don’t see how much of money we waste doing it. We waste money which we can use for many other purposes. As you’ve showed it doesn’t cost much effort to reduce the amount of things we waste. We only have to think for a while, use our creative skill, imagination.

    I’ve noticed how much money I saved when I and my wife decided to prepare more of our food for ourselves and we stopped buying ready-to-eat products. You can do the same with things other than food.

    Thank you, Vicky, for the inspiration.

  8. Laura Osmundson says:

    I know this is not on topic, but I just had to post. I just read your book and the quote about God having a reason to grant prayer that has a purpose behind it really resonated with me. My grandma called anything less “Santa Clause prayers”. Just have never heard anyone put it so succinctly. I’m going to borrow this to instruct my kids.

  9. Melissa Marowelli says:

    We recycle plastic containers…for example, baby wipes containers become crayon & marker boxes, the dishwasher “pods” box becomes a catch-all for computer/iPod/electronics cords, the animal cracker “barrel” becomes a holding bin for colored rice that we use in our rice box (like a sandbox, but we only pull it out as a special treat to play with inside like on rainy days).

    I also salvage (some of ) my kids jeans or school pants that get holes in the knees and hem them off to shorts.

  10. Didi says:

    My husband and I served in the military full time while raising our three children. To save on electricity we only heated the oven on Saturday (our day off) and cooked several meal at once, (meat loaf, cabbage rolls, pork loin, what ever would fit in there etc….). We used one hour of electricity for several meals. This was also a great time saver when I could re-heat a meal in only a few minute during our busy week of driving kids to hockey, soccer, gymnastics etc…) Not to mention since we were both military, we were often alone while the other parent was deployed.

  11. Kristin says:

    I enjoy your blog…..I hope you get back to posting regularly!

    • Joe says:

      Thank you, since the peak publicity this past year we all got a little burned out and we have struggled to find the time and the passion to give the blog the attention it deserves. Thank you for your request. We actually enjoy blogging and sharing and hearing from people like yourselves. It is our intent to soon begin a more regular commitment to this forum. Thank you.

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