Waste not, want not

Going to a posh private school from the age of 4, and continuing through the same school until 18, diving in skips wasn’t one of the lessons I learned.

My mother snobbishly abhorred sales, and totally refused to queue with the masses, preferring to pay full price and receive grovelling treatment from sales staff.

Personally, I couldn’t see anything wrong with getting something decent for a cheaper price, although I didn’t buy into (ha!) buying something for the sake of it just because it was cheap.

Oddly enough, some years back, I was happily working away at a reasonable job, earning a reasonable salary, and neighbours were offering me their cast-offs. Why didn’t they offer it to someone else who needed it? The illogic defied me, but I did put my foot down and decided for once, I would buy something I wanted, instead of having a home full of other people’s crap.

Fast forward however, and accepting cast-offs suddenly becomes A Good Thing in Spain.

I have no income, so if someone gives me something, it costs me nothing, apart from a payback of whatever type.

When we first moved to Spain, our neighbours would present us with all their leftover meals. It was like a soup kitchen. I was mortified. I ate it of course, wondering what on earth I was doing. Did I appear so poverty-stricken??

I didn’t know if my neighbour had deliberately cooked too much, to pass the food onto us, or whether she always cooked loads. Who can say?

But I learned to accept whatever meals we were given with an extremely good grace, washed up whatever pans/plates were given to us, and said Gracias.

I was horrified when Partner started to haul bikes onto the terrace that he had rescued from the side of the skip. Why did we want all these pushbikes? What was he going to do with them?

Rescued bikes (and a rescued garden chair, painted grey)

Apparently not just he, but we, were going to cycle. He cast his expert eye over the rescues. Bit of cable, a couple of wheel nuts, and we were ready to go. (Original post here). To be fair though, people had money at the time in Spain, and they were throwing bikes out like there was no tomorrow. Some of the bikes were decent. No-one throws out bikes any more.

Four green garden chairs were rescued (still have those), two white chairs were acquired (since gone back to the skip when they broke), a few plants, missed a couple of wrought iron chairs sadly because we were too slow in going back to a more distant skip, and then the sources dried up.

Garden chairs

But! We have had a recent find in Gib. Ten years or so ago, I bought a metal bucket, and when we bought our finca, there was a nice little mop squeezer thing left behind by the previous owner which fitted nicely on the top, just right for my new domestic cleaning life.

Now, it is sadly perishing in the heat and the damp and with the over-use.

I tried to buy a new one. ‘No,’ said the man in the shop. ‘Unidad.’ I had to buy a bucket as well, ie the whole unit. Er, I don’t think so. I had a bucket. Somewhere, surely, I must be able to find one of those squeezy-out things that would fit my round bucket? And not have to buy another bucket? Just for information, the current wave of buckets and squeezy-outs are sort of oval shape. I wondered if they had stopped making the ones to fit round buckets.

Partner came home extremely smugly the other day. In his carrier bag, there was the perfect squeezy-out, generously thrown out by someone who no longer had any use for it on the estate where Partner is working. They have probably bought an oval ‘Unidad’ because you have to buy new all the time, don’t you?

Prize find

ETA – more on this theme of our disgraceful and irresponsible throwaway society over on Clouds here.


30 comments on “Waste not, want not

  1. What a fabulous read :-)
    Although both from Yorkshire, we grew up in such different circles, my childhood was always, queuing for the offers and waiting for the sales, plus all my clothes were homemade. Even when my parents became better off, they still hunted for the bargains when they wanted something.
    I can’t throw anything away, it may come in handy sometime, probably a throwback to those days.
    Buckets, LOL, that really caused a chuckle, not long ago T was sorting out the garage, where I’d stashed prob 4 or 5 buckets (yes redundant buckets without the sqeezy out thing), we don’t need all these do we, he said. “you can never have enough buckets” (in quite a broad Yorkshire accent) was my reply, which has now become a standing joke when he finds more than one of something I’ve kept.


    • I did have handknitted jumpers by firstly my grandmother who could knit for Yorkshire (as well as bake/cook), and later my mother started making them too (so did I). I was quite into designer knitting, a bit like Vogue Designer Patterns.

      Buckets eh? We have a load, but you are so right, you can never have enough. We – in theory – have a load for work for A, but for some reason, I am always using the one HE wants, and when I want a household one, HE is using it for work. We nearly had a spat about the sqeezy-out thing – for another post :D

      In fact throwing out is a good topic to write about …..


  2. Repair, re-use, recycle! You’re saving the planet, one piece of junk at a time.

    I grew up in a council house but my mother had a similar attitude – I once brought home some clothes from a jumble sale and she threw them straight in the bin. She grew up in poverty and hated cast-offs for the rest of her life.


    • I’ve never been into waste, so buying something new for the sake of it hasn’t been a habit, but when I had enough money, IF I wanted something, I would buy it. Not in a hurry though – usually took me ages to look around for exactly what I wanted. Delays the unpleasant parting with money that way. I don’t take something for the sake of it, someone more needy may want it. I do use Freecycle, mainly to give stuff away but we did get a good compressor from it and repaired it. And my mending skills are gold medal standard these days. Still don’t darn socks though.

      My mother didn’t grow up in poverty, just your average council house. Actually it was a posh council house. My father grew up in a single parent family, with three siblings in a one down two up, toilet out the back, privately rented. So when they started earning money, I think they both enjoyed actually being able to afford to buy what they wanted. I’m not criticising that, but I do dislike consumerism for the sake of it. Must shut up or this will turn into a blog post in the comments.


  3. I’m not one for throwing things out either, if they are still working fine. My refridgerator celebrated its 34th birthday last year, my freezer and washing machine are both over 20 years old; I did buy them all new though. My neighbour tells me they are not as friendly to the environment as all his new stuff, but that doesn’t sway me.


    • A person after my own heart. What makes? Out of interest?

      Still using my mother’s tumbly and fridge freezer (not the freezer bit, that died) which date back more than 30 years as I was at university.

      A bit like the Land Rover argument. Buy a new vehicle which is more environmentally friendly, but what is the cost of car production? When you can keep an old one (1974) on the road for minimal cost of anything? I don’t buy that one.

      Just posted on Clouds on the same theme, as it was nagging away at me, so will add a link above. Throwing away and buying new is one of my serious pet rants !!


      • Fridge is Polarfrost and freezer is Ocean, both budget brands as befitted my pocket at the time, washing machine is Phillips, my then partner had a thing about the name Whirlpool ….. needless to say that relationship didn’t last!!

        Cars, I usually bought 1 year old and sold at 5 years old.


        • Oh I thought you were going to be an AEG/Bosch person. Only vaguely heard of polarfrost. Ocean? Shopping?

          We never had a whirlpool either. Of any type.

          One year old, with depreciation, sound move.


  4. Funny A and I were talking about the recyley thing. She has been a big charity shopper since the dark ages, once got a cast off from Guinevere I think. However, every time there is a recession the bargains dry up and tat is thrown away.
    Got a freezer from Freecycle for my extra produce, … it was broken and wouldn’t freeze. I think I was a cheap removal man.
    I just had to de clutter, didn’t have anywhere to store the stuff I had rescued. Threw stuff away, wanted it two days later …


    • What did Guinevere throw away? Interested here :)

      When my fridge packs up, you can come and remove my broken total job if you like. It may well repair, who knows?

      I know a person who lives with me and acquires stuff … and eventually … it goes elsewhere


      • Her kingdom?
        As a mechanic I make a brilliant watercolourist. Although I have had recent success with my mopeds. Might pass on the fridge no freezer collection, probably too big and heavy for my cycle trailer.
        Do you think it is somethng about blokes who cannot bear to part with anything that ‘might come in handy’ my dad was the same and as for my grandfather …


  5. As a Mom to 5 children, I had no choice but be frugal and perhaps accept offerings from others.. Now that the children are older (most have flown the nest) I still find it difficult to waste things. 75% of my wardrobe come from this hip little consignment shop (my Mother must be cringing in heaven over this tidbit), I reuse as much as possible and tell your partner I am in need of a new bike in case he sees a spare laying around..:-)


    • Five!!!! OMG!! (if I had one)

      Your mother is cringing in heaven? Mine will be spinning. Or maybe not – sometimes we all change our views.

      You have reminded me of yet another bike story which I must remember to post up about freecycle bicycles. At some point. Good luck with the hunt.


  6. Really nice to hear all this – it used to be people kept things that were older but fine, fixed things, and thought it was fine to re-purpose items….suddenly everything had to be new – even though made poorly – that’s better? great job!


  7. Great post (as usual). The G.O. & I love found stuff, and besides amusing ourselves & unsettling our houseguests “Where did you get those lovely chairs?” “The bin room”… We hope one day to sell our found & recycled goodies on to people who for some reason don’t find it of any value to source directly from the footpath, bin room, etc themselves.


    • Thank you. I agree though, people’s aspirations and pretentiousness are so funny. I probably understand it because I’m sure I was there at one point. We take considerable pleasure when people admire the dog and ask what sort of breed he is and where he is from – he’s a cross, off the street. They never know what to say :)


        • I was so surprised when I read that I couldn’t think of a reply. You are right it is both things. If a dog gets a home then it has to be a good thing, even if the motivational aspects are well, odd. It did bring to mind a tongue-in-cheek sketch between two affluent friends discussing the latest ‘must-have’ fashion accessory, but I may not publish it.


        • I thought about mentioning him lying at his gate, but the rescue aspect never occurred to me! Probably because I always say that he rescued us, so I must have that fixed in my head now. Thank you for that perceptive observation and comment :)


  8. I must confess that I can’t pass a skip without looking in it for interesting things. I once got a complete set of photographic lamps and stands out of one. Enjoy your cycling and recycling!…


  9. I throw nothing away. Can’t remember the last time I bought something new – I think it was a pair of jeans last year – now they need patching on inner thighs where they wear due to rubbing on bicycle seat, bicycle a foundling, 2 more foundling bikes in the hallway…notice to quit my flat, oh where will I go? What will I do with all the foundthings in this flat?


  10. Sometimes the things others discard can become our greatest treasures–at least they have for me. The bikes my partner and I recently got once belonged to a nephew and a friend.

    Realized I could come here and click on you cycling category. Thanks for the comments on my blog today. Hope you’ll stop back by sometime soon!


    • A realisation that recycling something second-hand is useful and practical has taken a long time coming to me.

      Same with cycling. Hoping to get out on our bikes next weekend.

      Thanks for the visit and likewise.


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