Ok, Baby Boomers, confession time. Have you ever, hopefully not out loud, made fun of a mother, mother-in-law or aunt for her frugal ways? You know, the saving and reusing of sour cream and yogurt containers, cutting up used envelopes for notepaper, rewashing plastic bags? Oh, admit it. Some of us have been disdainful. Admonishing them, either silently or aloud, for cluttering up their lives.
This is likely less true of those on the leading edge of the Boomer generation. They actually knew "want." Those of us who came later, lived such lives of privilege we could scarcely comprehend a world in which we couldn't obtain anything and everything we wanted.
I'm at the tail end of the Boomers, and I know the attitudes I've held are a result of that privilege. As a young person, I grew up in less than opulent conditions. At one time my main goal in life was to live where there was a flush toilet. Now I have four. Be careful what you wish for. Other than those early years, I've lived most of my life in what I consider the lap of luxury.
I'm not sure what the outcome of Canada's situation will be, but I expect many things will change. That attitude of privilege will not prevail and we will likely look more closely at the "reuse" concept before we "recycle" in the future.
It's creeping into my approach to everyday life. Do you find yourself adding some water to your favourite shower gel, realizing it could go a whole lot farther that way and still do the same job? Are you conscious of how much toothpaste you use, or lament the one-use aspect of dental floss?
I recommend not doing a Google search of shortages in the wake of COVID-19. It won't be a good mental health break. But, life could possibly become interesting.
But do consider the challenges ahead as a jumping off point to make amends to our elders. Even if we didn't voice our derision of their propensity to cut twist ties in half, or hoard vast quantities of plastic containers, we can quietly say in our minds, "We were too blind to follow your lead."
But that doesn't mean a new mindset is without pitfalls. A friend reached out to ask if I still had my share of the sour dough bread starter she had cultivated. She had kept back her half and stored it in a thoughtfully in a reused cottage cheese container. Reading the best-by date on the container, she discarded the "cottage cheese," because she had neglected to label it "sour dough."
She also proved her head isn't totally in the game, as in our possibly-altered universe she should have discarded the contents and rewashed the container. This is a woman who says she spent many a weekend of her youth washing and drying plastic bags for reuse. She's not even really "new" to the game.
Obviously it's going to be an interesting head twister for some of us.
She was able to rebuild on the starter I had left, but there's a cautionary tale in there. If you're going to repurpose, keep the Sharpie close by.