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Welcome to Dupage Mamas! This blog is a place for Mamas to connect, share their experiences, and recommend great finds and ideas (or let us learn from your mistakes!) If you are raising kids in Dupage County, then we'd love to have you along for the adventure!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not's guest blogger is Liz.

Recently, my neighbor had a Waste Not, Want Not party. I had never heard of one before this, but after reading the invitation, I was intrigued.

“Empty out your pantries, freezers and refrigerators and bring all the extra food items to this brunch. We can then trade with each other and take home new and much needed goodies. Whatever is left over we will donate to a food pantry. Times are tough and there is no reason to waste perfectly good food. So don't!”

It was the kind of party that would have been fun in any economy, but seemed all the more relevant in the current climate. I’ve never thought of giving someone a half-opened jar of food, but hey, why not? If it’s something someone else would use…

Since I regularly purge my cupboards, drawers and closets, and Freecycle, donate, or leave things at the curb, I was afraid I wouldn’t have anything worthwhile to bring. Somehow, though, I filled a big diaper box full of half opened boxes of tea, a set of old iced-tea spoons, a full bottle of mint liqueor, an extra bottle of molasses that wasn’t used during Christmas cookie season, some mason jar lids (large and small) and a couple of beautiful books on honey and tea that have been gathering dust for 6 years on my tea shelf, waiting for me to find some time to get inspired to start my own beehive.

Confession: the real reason I was excited to go to my neighbor’s party was the word ‘brunch’. And it wasn’t potluck. When I walked in, the table was spread with an amazing assortment of quiche, and cakes, breads, and salads – all made with items from her pantry she was trying to use up.

Sipping a Mimosa, I chatted with women from various parts of my friend’s life – her husband’s law school friends, her farm market friends, an ex-peace corps member who now works as an editor for the Tribune, the owner of my favorite natural body product shops, and a number of other radically different, yet essentially connected women.

Everyone seemed just as interested and excited as I was about this party.

Isn’t it fun what a rotten economy can actually stir up? I love to see the good that comes out of the bad.

We spread out the un-used and half-used items on two tables and made mental lists of what we wanted to put in our own bags to take home.

There was quite a collection: some unshelled walnuts, a partial 25 lb bag of jasmine rice, jars of baby food, chocolate, a can of sweetened condensed milk, boxes of jello, some canning apparatus, and on and on. I think we all agreed that we preferred the purging to the taking, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I took home. A practically brand-new child’s plate/cup/silverware set, a large bar of Ghiradelli dark chocolate with orange (who the heck has extra chocolate lying around??), a couple Ziplocs of jasmine rice (we had just run out!), fun little toddler snacks to toss into the diaper bag, a bag of those little anise candies that you take by the spoonful on your way out of an Indian restaurant, and the best find of all? Some of the extra un-sellable soaps and bath salts that the owner of Abbey Brown Soap Artisans brought with her to give away!

Now I have been walking around my house with new eyes. I see the potential to do this with every part of our apartment and life – extra bathroom items, kids clothes, toys, cookbooks, magazines, and always food.

One woman’s garbage, another woman’s treasure, as they say.

Have you ever done something like this? Want to try it? Let us know if you would want to participate in something like this and maybe Dupage Mamas can host it.

Liz blogs at SuLaLi and Chicago Moms Blog.
We're always looking for guest bloggers! If you'd like to share something with the Dupage Mamas community, send us your completed post or half-baked ideas.


RCann April 28, 2009 at 1:21 PM  

This sounds like a wonderful idea. I must say that I have joined Freecycle, and it really motivates me to give things away. I am amazed at some of the wonderful things that people are willing to give away to people they don't even know. It is really inspiring to see so many people helping each other for all the right reasons. If you haven't joined, I HIGHLY recommend.


Heather April 28, 2009 at 2:36 PM  

That sounds like a great idea.

Oh and I agree with RCann, Freecycle is awesome!

DuPage Mamas should totally host a waste not want not party. That'd be so fun!

KimiSutra April 29, 2009 at 9:21 AM  

This sounds like a lot of fun and I would really enjoy participating.

Farrah April 29, 2009 at 3:15 PM  

I agree that this is a totally awesome idea. What a great way to make the most of our money and help our friends do the same thing. And I keep meaning to check out Freecycle!! :)

I think we will try to plan a Dupage Mamas Pantry Swap for maybe the end of May or beginning of June... stay tuned!! :)

Atwood-Family of 4 April 29, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

Oh my goodness! I would love to do this! I am currently trying to decide what to make with alphabet pasta and I'm nixing all the ideas I come across. Farrah, you set it up and I'm there!

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