Monday, 9 August 2010
This post has been brewing with me for a few weeks now, after coming back from our middle daughter's Graduation. Of course, all her belongings had to come back with her. She flat-shared with several others. Some were travelling home on the train. Some were flying back home. They took the bare minimum. It is hard enough seeing decent food being thrown in the bin - and this is something that happens at the end of every University year - perfectly good food chucked away. I will admit to rescuing a few tins . . . I understand this is often a regular occurrence throughout termtime anyway - with students saying that this or that has been in the cupboard a while now, we'll throw it and buy a new packet. Old bread is thrown each week when a new loaf is bought - not used up for toast. Something is past - or even NEAR it's sell by or best before date - bin it . . . My eldest daughter was not one of these, as we didn't have the money to support such a profligate lifestyle, and she learned early on to make sixpence do the work of a shilling.
As I said, that was bad enough, but to see kitchen utensils, china, pans, thermos flasks (some of this never used), bedding and even clothes just chucked in the bin really upset me. Only one family bothered to take anything to a nearby charity shop - they were flying home to Europe. I have never seen such wastage. I can only assume it happens across the country, at every University, yet with a little forethought - these students had had time on their hands since their exams - surely the stuff they didn't need could have been taken to a charity shop - even the day before leaving. Why can't someone in each building take responsibility for the collection and donation of unwanted belongings? Why not just ask various charities to arrange to come and collect stuff? Why not put perfectly good food in boxes to be collected by charities for the homeless or even local people who struggle to make ends meet?
It makes my blood boil to think of such waste. It would take some organizing, but surely some good should come out of all this conspicuous consumption? Surely this easy come, easy go attitude is going to be carried on through life . . . no need for thrift, no considering the needs of others less fortunate, no charity . . .
As if to underline how hard life was, not so many years ago, I will mention a book I found at the car boot sale this weekend: Recipes from Scotland by F Marian McNeill. Originally published in 1946, my copy is a 1956 reprint. I suspect many of the recipes are very old ones, but gosh, there was absolutely NOTHING WASTED. Crappit Heids (Stuffed Haddock Heads) was one example, where the haddock heads were stuffed with minced fresh haddock livers and seasoned oatmeal and cooked in a little fish stock. Then there was Skirlie (Skirl-in-the-pan) made with oatmeal, suet or dripping and onions and seasoning. The oatmeal absorbed the fat (this was melted in a hot pan and the onion fried in it first). A note says that "Skirlie may be served as an accompaniment to minced steak, roast grouse, etc. In cottage homes it is often served as a main dish, with a border of creamed potatoes." Two more economical meals it is hard to think of, and those good wives north of the border would be spinning widdershins in their graves if they saw today's wastage.