Goodbye waste, hello #ThriftyLiving

Thrifty Living

Thrifty Living - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Waste. It’s everywhere. From the leftovers on children’s plates that gets shovelled relentlessly into a foul-smelling bin that no-one wants to go within 100 yards of to the constantly blinking lights of electrical devices on standby, teasing you cruelly with the unnecessary amounts of your hard-earned cash they are channelling into the energy companies’ already bulging coffers.

When did it get to be like this and does it have to stay that way?

For the sake of our bank accounts and the planet there has to be something better, something less wantonly wasteful. So I’ve set out to find it by embracing thrifty living - and sharing what I discover with you.

There’s no better place to start then revisiting memories of my childhood Christmases. Frugality was a lifelong watchword for my nana, one of seven children who grew up in a hardworking but cash-strapped Norfolk family.

She never tired of telling her grand-children two things as our fingers itched to tear at the wrapping and

get to our presents each festive season. The first was that we didn’t know how lucky we were. In her day, the most she got was an orange in her stocking.

We didn’t really believe her and anyway, truth be told, we cared little for tales of

Most Read

her grim Christmases past. The allure of our 1970s toy prizes in such tantalisingly close reach pushed all other thoughts from our minds. But every year, just as we were about to send ribbons of wrapping paper flying in all directions, nana would speak. And when nana spoke, you listened.

There was to be no ripping of paper. Instead we were to carefully peel back the securing sticky tape, leaving the paper intact so she could fold it up and store it for re-use.

Nana’s long dead now but I can’t help thinking of her every Christmas when my own son hits his presents like an Exocet missile, pulverising the paper into a million pieces even she would be incapable of salvaging.

Then there were the leftover treats she favoured. Whatever happened to bubble and squeak or bread and dripping? Now, I’m not suggesting the latter deserves resurrecting, on health grounds alone, but there’s much to learn about thrifty living from our forebears.

I’m too late to do anything about Christmas paper for a while but leftovers... that’s another matter.

Email me your tips for thrifty living or frugal family traditions at