Jewish Journal


September 6, 2011

Waste Not Want Not


I am allergic to waste: I just can’t abide the thought of perfectly usable things being dumped into the garbage.  Besides the ecological consequences, there’s the offense to my compulsively thrifty nature.  If there’s such a thing as reincarnation (which I strongly doubt) I must have been a squirrel in my former life.  I totally understand the urge to dig a little hole and drop an acorn in, insuring a tasty snack on a winter’s day.

I love leftovers.  When you heat up food the next day, the flavorful juices have been absorbed, and you have a readymade dinner that doesn’t require any work (a big plus in my book)!  Some cultures have no concept of leftovers: they demand food that’s freshly bought and freshly made.  Masaki, a film producer from Tokyo, came over and watched me place a pot of yesterday’s beef stew onto the stove.  He couldn’t contain his horror. “Annie-san! Are you serving garbage?”

There are some Americans who won’t eat yesterday’s food.  When I go to their homes for dinner, I bring my own plastic containers so that I don’t have to suffer the sight of that yummy lasagna being scraped into the trash.  By the way, those plastic containers were not bought in a store.  I just save take-out containers: no Tupperware parties for me. 

Most restaurant portions are so huge that if you finish your plate you might be well on your way to cardiac arrest.  I always take home half my meal, which means that I’m getting two dinners for the price of one.  I’m saving money and reducing calories at the same time - which makes me feel very righteous indeed.

I haven’t bought soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, mouthwash, or ball-point pens in years.  That’s what hotels are for.  I’ll admit I sometimes overdo it.  We were about to leave for the long trip home from Sidney, Australia.  Benni was in the shower and asked for the soap.  “Too late. It’s already packed!”  He did not appreciate my suggestion of just splashing on some extra cologne.

I always travel with those tiny plastic containers of jams and honey that you get for free in coffee shops.  I learned my lesson the hard way.  We were having a croissant and coffee one morning in Paris, and I asked for some jam.  They brought a pot of orange marmalade and charged us five euros – which is about eight dollars.  Never again. 

I also carry those herbal tea packets you get in hotel rooms.  I’m allergic to caffeine and, in many places in the world, “decaf” is considered the equivalent of “boorish American” and is not available.  Even domestic airlines can be a problem.  On my last flight I was given a packet of decaffeinated coffee and a cup of lukewarm water that wasn’t hot enough to dissolve the coarse powder.  So I couldn’t drink my coffee – I had to chew it!


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