Recently I held my annual Grandma Rie’s Money Camp for my two grandchildren. This year, I invited their other grandma along with one of her grandchildren (my grandchildren’s cousin).
As the week progressed, we two Grandmas started noting some habits of the kids that were irritating to us, being what we considered wasteful.
Among them was the fact that where ever a kid went, the lights and ceiling fans went on and never went off unless we specifically requested the child to go back and turn them off. Another was watching them go through the patio door, leaving it wide open to the summer air while the air conditioner ran full steam! We came from homes and eras that thought electricity (as well as light bulbs!) were expensive.
Later that week, I spoke to my 90+ year old Aunt. Her idea of wastefullness centered on the use of water. She came from an era where public water was not readily available. She was raised on and lived much of her married life on a farm, dependent on a small well for all water. The fear of running out of water was ever prevalent and caused her to forgo daily baths, catch rainwater for laundry, and keep a vigilant eye on the water levels.
Even today, although she uses an automatic dishwasher, one of her pet peeves in homes of relatives my generation is watching someone let the water run from the faucet while rinsing the dishes prior to loading the dishwasher.
Do wastefulness pet peeves cost us money?
I’ve read that it takes more electricity to turn a light on and off again than it does to leave it on. If true, do I need to just get over my pet peeve about lights being left on? As with many things, it depends…. the California consumer energy center, in an article called “Urban myth - leaving a fluorescent light turned on is cheaper than turning it off and on?” says:
“You should turn off your fluorescent lamps if the space is not going to be occupied for more than a few minutes (3-5 minutes is a good rule of thumb). The modern electronic ballast and T8/T5 lamp combination do draw a higher level of current during startup, but it only lasts for a fraction of a second, which is negligible compared to normal current requirements of the lamps.”
Electricity in America is relatively cheaper – compared as a percentage of income – today than it was in days gone by – at least for us. Should I really obsess about making sure the door is closed each time a kid goes in or out (flies and bugs aside)?
Water has seldom failed to surge out of my faucets and the bill has not been excessive. We are used to cheap and plentiful water. Should my Aunt still try to conserve by pre-rinsing in a pan rather than letting the water run while she rinses those dishes?
Quick scans show that others have pet peeves on wastefulness as well. Which of these do you hate?
Paper and packaging waste.
Manufacturer packaging was one peeve I saw. Using large boxes and layers of material to package a small item is not only irritating but also misleading as well as wasteful. Should folks insist on sensible packaging?
Junk mail is one of my pet peeves. Often it goes straight from the mail box to the trash can – and this even after getting on a no junk mail list! But then, isn’t junk mail what keeps the post office afloat?
Yellow and white page phone books, although once essential, are now over done and generally out of date before reaching the consumer. Back in the pre-internet days, we only received on book of white pages and one of yellow pages. Now we get multiple versions multiple times a year. All but one set goes in the trash right away at our house, the others sit on the shelf, unused and unloved!
You probably have seen the commercial of the guy grilling and flipping one of every 4 or 5 pieces of meat directly into the trash can! We don’t eat all we buy. It goes bad and we get rid of it.
Restaurants try to tempt customers by providing extravagant portion sizes. Who can eat all that food? Even if we box it up and take it home, how much is actually eaten?
Wastefulness indicates a state of mind.
Even if electricity and water are cheap, even if food is plentiful, and marketers willing to pay for extra packaging, large numbers of phone books and junk mail, waste is waste.
Wasting things, to me, shows a careless, thoughtless, insensitive and undisciplined attitude and approach to life.
If I leave the lights on when I go out of the room, will I also neglect to check for the best price on my next car? If I tolerate extra phone books and junk mail, will I also tolerate nuclear waste and non-conforming land dumps?
Are you teaching your children to avoid wastefulness?
What is your pet peeve on wastefulness?