Any suggestions for "The Pope Francis Waste Not Club"?

I’m really inspired by our new Pope Francis. I think he’s really hit the nail on the head by speaking about how we have to overcome our “culture of waste.”

This involves a lot of practical solutions and ideas. It doesn’t dwell on the problems that our wastefulness generates so much (about which people may argue ad infinitum), as it does on the way out, the solutions…“Waste Not.”

This approach also does not criticize people for living rich lifestyles, only for living somewhat profligately and prodigally. And I suspect a large portion of people around the world (except perhaps for the poorest of the poor) can benefit themselves and others by reducing their waste.

I was very touched when I read about how Pope Francis would return the 30 newspaper rubberbands to the newspaper man at the end of each month.

I’d like this thread to be only about how we can reduce our waste in various ways.

So any suggestions?

On another thread I suggested taking one’s own shopping bags while shopping, and another poster suggested something even more effective – repairing broken equipment (cars, weed-whackers), rather than buying new.

I’ll try to create a list later of all the suggestions (and I’d appreciate if the suggestions were not facetious, but serious).

No idea is too small…rubberbands included. For instance I try to take a hanky with me for wiping hands in public restrooms (tho I sometimes forget).

I have been working on “not wasting” for years. Just as with any other change in one’s life, it is best to take things one step at a time. Start with what you can do. If any suggestion seems too hard, or too far out for you right now, find something that is not too hard or too far out right now.

First of all, be very aware in the front of your mind that for everything there is some sort of trade off. For instance, at large gatherings of friends and family if I host I do not use paper plates, I wash dishes. This means first of all that I must have enough dishes for the number of people I want to invite. I must have a place to store them. And of course I need to use the time, water, soap, and energy to wash them, dry them and put them away. I decided long ago that it was worth the effort to avoid the waste of paper plates. In the Pope’s example with the rubber bands, he needed a place to store them, and he needed to remember every month to return them to the newspaper guy. So do not be surprised if your effort to avoid waste has some sort of cost.

Here are a few things I do: cut up old clothes (especially T-shirts and diapers) and old towels and sheets to use as floor rags. I use very few paper towels. About 2 rolls a year.

I recycle everything I possibly can, even when it is an effort.

I compost food leftovers.

I make an effort to “buy local” since that involves less waste in getting the food or other products to me.

Instead of buying plastic containers for leftovers I re-use the plastic containers that some things come in, such as cottage cheese or yogurt.

I would suggest that people contribute only suggestions which they have tried, and have made a habit of.

I didn’t know about Pope Francis and the newspaper rubber bands! Excellent! :smiley:

Of course, the major item is recycling. It takes only a little effort to ensure that all plastics and papers are recycled (if your local government supports this). Then one can also start recycling clothes, shoes, toys and household items through the charity stores. I buy a few clothes (and especially shoes) from these stores - it saves a fortune!

As you mentioned, repairing things rather than buying new is a good idea. One benefit is that it provides local jobs to the cobbler, car mechanic, seamstress, watchmaker etc.

I also like to keep things in good repair before they are broken, such as regular car services and maintenance checks of major household items.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to pass these habits on to my children who are very wasteful and have a “throw away” attitude. I doubt whether they ever replace a broken shoelace, or sew on a new button.


I am hoping that Pope Francis is able to “waste” one thing, the “Gay Lobby” that the news says has infiltrated the Holy See!:thumbsup:

Reuse is good too. We buy a lot of stuff we need (and some stuff we don’t) at thrift shops and yard sales, and we donate items we no longer need to charities. This cuts down on demand for newly manufactured goods, which may be both good and bad. It reduces our consumption/waste of natural resources, but it might cost some factory worker his job… but I am not sure I should be a big spender just to prop up the global economy.

Please keep that to another thread, so as not to dilute this one.

Peace and Blessings.

there are, however, thing I definitely would not buy used, such as infant car seats, mattresses, shoes, etc. Car seats: for safety reasons it is not recommended because you don’t know if the seat was damaged in an accident, same goes for bike helmets. Mattresses and shoes, health reasons.

Recycling is great, but please do it correctly! Rinse containers well so there is no food or odor, remove labels. Most labels on glass will come off if you soak them, plastic not so much. If your recycler says no lids, please put them in your own garbage.

Some modern fabrics aren’t suitable for rags, but they can be recycled. Here in the NW we have Gemtext, a recycler that will take all clean fabrics, including old clothes, household linens, shoes, stuffed animals, belts, purses, towels, and toys.

If you have yard space, you can compost food waste. If you don’t, your city may collect it separately from garbage.

Recycling takes thought, time, and sometimes research to find out where you can recycle things.

BTW, the very first step in not wasting is often the easiest to do, and at the same time the hardest emotionally. Don’t buy things you don’t need. For many of us, accustomed as we are to vast luxury, in comparison with our actual needs, there is a peculiar but very real pleasure in buying things, even if we don’t need them at all. Most women will tell you that they have never worn many of the clothes or shoes they have bought. Men often buy exercise equipment or tools that they don’t use. Many of us buy food or drink that we don’t eat, or if we do eat it we regret it afterward. Try very hard to get into the habit of asking yourself if you really need something, or even really want it, before you buy it.

Good way to cut down on the need to recycle! :slight_smile:


I don’t subcribe to a newspaper, but I do store the rubber bands I get with my mail, and I have returned baggies of them to the mailman. The first time, he was surprised, but happliy so.

Another thing is to save packing peanuts instead of throwing them away. If you don’t need them to mail something, you can probably find a UPS store or something nearby where you can leave them to be reused. Or if you work in a big enough office, you can check with your mailroom people to see if they can use them. You can also try here:

Do you get catalogs in the mail that you don’t want? There is usually a place inside where it tells you how to stop getting them. Practical hint: You might want to keep (for a while, anyway) the front cover of any catalogs you have cancelled, with the date you cancelled written on, so you don’t accidentally try to cancel them more than once. It takes a couple of months for the cancellation to take effect.

Give yourself a one-day waiting period before buying anything online, unless you are on a deadline (buying a birthday present, for example). It’s surprising how often, when you go back the next day, you’re a lot less sure you want to buy the thing.

Those aren’t very big things to do, but they’re pretty easy.


:thumbsup: This can be the hardest aspect of not wasting, but it’s actually quite freeing. And once the habit is trained, it’s second nature.

And kudos to the OP! What a great thread topic. I wish everyone felt inspired – instead of attacked – by the pontiff’s comments.

Research the resource cost of different foods, and figure out what your body really needs. Meat has a higher cost than most non-meats, and processed foods have more cost than unprocessed. Most westerners eat more protein than they need in their diet. Things like replacing a meal of hamburgers with pasta with a beef stroganoff (where you get a little meat and more pasta) can help reduce waste.

As for labels and lids, check with your recycling authority (here it is the county, but some places it might be a company). Ours says labels aren’t a problem for them, because of their recycling process. But it’s amazing what you learn about what works for them if you just ask them. If you move, don’t assume that the new place has the same rules, because there are a lot of different recycling processes. I’ve been told that, in general, putting the wrong stuff in is a lot worse than leaving the right stuff out, because you can contaminate a whole batch if you put too much of the wrong stuff in. And you mght check back with them every few years (especially if they have a web site, rather than you having to call them) to see if anything’s changed.

But nobody wants food on the stuff! That’s gross. I’m ashamed to say that members of my own family put out recycling with food in it, and it’s disgusting and also draws oppossums (and possibly other critters, but possums are all I’ve seen).


Several of us made suggestions on this thread, beginning with post 15:

The generation who lived through the Depression, for those of lucky to have known such people, were automatic role models for this. They reflexively reused items, and didn’t reflexively go out and buy more unless it could not be reused.

Our current age is far more consumption-driven than any previous age, far more throw-away, and the biggest problem is our lack of awareness. Our, including self. We just don’t think about what we don’t need.

Soeone mentioned on the previous thread, and maybe this one, shopping bags. There is now a region-wide ordinance where I live, to discourage non-reusable bags. You are charged at check-out if you do not bring your own container and need paper or plastic (ugh to the plastic). The fee is designed as a disincentive, and the vast majority are cooperating and getting the message – bringing their own or even hand-carrying lots of items together, to avoid the fee.

Agree with revert_jen. Such sloppiness about recycling is rampant among my neighbors. Let’s try to do our part (I am) to educate them charitably. For my own part (and for years I have done this), I spend a lot of time taking care with the recycling process and the can itself. I wash all glass, plastic, and metal thoroughly, and all of my paper is unsoiled. Both in this house and my preivous one, the county recycling men have loved me because of it.

It takes time to do this. Time is free. It’s an act of love for humanity. :slight_smile:

I know it sounds like boasting. It’s not! I confess to previous waste and lack of concern about recycling/re-use. This is merely part of my reparation! Hopefully, less time in Purgatory this way. :smiley:

You are my role model. I do most of these things, but it’s good to have inspiration against back-sliding on them. I used to compost, but I’ve got to get back into it – makes terrific soil amendment for great veggies.

I also use plastic containers…and wish they still sold Smart Balance in the small tubs (which I need for small leftovers). I finally broke down and bought some small tubs :frowning:

One thing I am not doing is going thru all my clothes and giving those not in use to the poor. Got to do that more often. But I do try not to buy too many clothes. I think with some people its an obsession and/or need to be in style. I have absolutely no desire to be in the latest style. Praise the Lord!!!

Yes, REUSE, is the second and most important principle after REDUCE. Garage sales are great…also a great social institution and chance to meet neighbors and people in other neighborhoods.

We just discovered Craig’s list a few months ago. We finally replaced our old living room set (which we had bought used) with a new one. My husband had wanted to that for over 10 years…and I’m glad I at least postponed it. Since we’d be crammed with furniture and there are not good thrift shops in our area, we were stumped. Our niece told us about Craig’s list. We took some photos (one a close up of the nice uphostery) and put up the ad, I guess at a greatly reduce price, bec we got over 20 calls within a few hours, one person even saying they’d pay more, but we had already promised it…

I think too much protein is even bad, say, for the kidneys. I remember reading about a woman who went on a nearly all protein diet to lose weight, and she ended up having a kidney transplant. I have a little grand-nephew who developed a serious kidney problem. His mother had insisted on feeding him very high protein drinks right from the start, and I’ve always wondered if that could have been the cause or could have contributed to it. He is much better now, after years of treatment and a very low protein diet.

I’ve gone back and forth between vegetarian and low meat diets. They say 7 vegetarians can live off the same land productivity as one meat-eater.

I think I actually feel better on a vegan/vegetarian diet (we do take supplements that have B12). However, my husband is a pesco-vegan, so we eat seafood fairly regularly. It tastes so good the way we prepare it. Since he has an extreme aversion to fowl and can’t eat red meats much due to the cholesterol, I’m not tempted to these foods, except a rare barbeque.

I know diet is the hardest to change. However, we Catholics could get back to meatless Fridays :). Then perhaps meatless Tuesdays … the other sorrowful mysteries day. Most Catholics in India go vegetarian on Tues and Fridays. And really good Catholics, esp wives and mothers, fast on Friday as a spiritual sacrifice for their families – no breakfast, light lunch & light dinner.

My Indian mother-in-law made the comment years ago that they don’t fast in America like they do in India. I told her, yes we do, only we call it dieting :slight_smile:

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