Waste not, want not

We’ve all heard the proverb, “Waste not, want not.” This old saw has its origins from 1576 in, The Paradise of Dainty Devices by Richard Edwardes, a distinguished lyricist and playwright who was rumored to be an illegitimate son of Henry VIII. On page 88 the proverb was written as: “For want is nexte to waste, and shame doeth synne ensue.”

In 1721 the saying was recorded in an easier to understand version: “Willful waste makes woeful want.” Then, on August 10, 1772 in a letter to Alexander Clark, John Wesley wrote the saying in the more familiar: “He will waste nothing; but he must want nothing.”

All of the various forms of this proverb get at the idea of how we can always have just what we need. The less we waste (or acquire), the more resources we save and the less we’ll want for anything later. Waste not, want not reduces the risk of poverty and need.

Put another way, many of us are saving money for something we’ll need or can afford in the future (savings). We will opt to not have what we may want/desire now in order to preserve what we need/want in the future.

Grey Bears thrift store’s housewares & furniture department.

Sherry Riter recommends some tips (with some of ours) to help us not waste opportunities and resources (no particular order):

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Anything short of dying is small stuff.
  • Only buy what you need.
  • Avoid buying single use plastic, or plastic items when possible.
  • Cook every part of the vegetable.
  • Make the effort to learn something daily.
  • Don’t do things that would make you ashamed or embarrassed if your spouse, family or preferred deity found out.
  • Always have a shopping list and stick with it in order to help curb the impulse buying.
  • Use the vegetable and meat scraps to cook a delicious broth.
  • Take one day at a time. Live today. You can’t go back into the past nor can you speed into the future. Enjoy now.
  • When you find something you want to buy, wait at least a week before purchasing it. Think about all the pros and cons of your actions.
  • Don’t be addicted to the television, computer or telephone.
  • Make banana bread out of those dark brown bananas. The bread will be nice and sweet.
  • Learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat the same ones.
  • Save extras. Create a stock of items (clothes, food, money) to carry you through sickness and financial shortages.
  • Make relationships a priority. Family first before anything else external such as power, influence or money.
  • Repair when possible and buy used from thrift stores like Grey Bears instead of buying new.
  • Enjoy nature. Relax and meditate with the sunrise and sunset. Watch the birds, wind, leaves blowing, raindrops on the window, animals eating, etc. The little things in nature are marvelous and bring about inner peace.
  • A momentary thrill today that hurts other people does not lead to joy in the future. Think before you act and act unselfishly.
  • Be smart with food preservation – learn to can and freeze when room is ample.
  • Set goals and consciously work towards attaining them.
  • Keep it clean. Dirt wears things out faster.
  • Please yourself and don’t worry about making everyone else happy. They won’t all be happy no matter what you do, so make yourself happy.
  • Get enough sleep for your mind, body and soul.
  • Prioritize your activities. Keep a list of things to accomplish short and attainable today. Health, wealth and influence can disappear in seconds.
  • Try not to take things and people for granted. Don’t be like Aesop’s grasshopper with your time, talents and resources.
  • Squeeze every bit of sweetness out of your life and unselfishly share it with those you love.

Waste not, want not.