Where Thrift Reigns: The Italian Village of Thrift

Do you rush out to buy new or have you learned the art of making do? My husband’s hometown is a village where thrift reigns. The people there have long been used to making do. The current trend toward simplicity and frugality is so normal for them, they would ask “Is there any other way?” 

I’m often amazed at their makeshift contrivances. And their unusual, often ingenious, ways of reusing and up-cycling. Some of the oddest containers employed as plant pots. The strangest objects joined to form fences.

Nothing is wasted

Nothing, it seems, goes to waste but gets reused for something. None the less, the way an elderly paesana (townswoman) packaged a gift surprised me.

The packaged gift

An old juice bottle filled with wonderful extra, extra virgin olive oil straight from her trees. And home-cured olives ready to eat! And who else but these delightful, thrifty people would present them in a plastic juice bottle and empty cookie bag, tied with a strip cut from durable plastic?

Not me! I’ve always just considered such things trash, not reusable items!

It would undoubtedly mystify her to learn she was being green. She probably didn’t even think of trash problems, or the environment. She just saw something that she could eventually find another use for, and thereby save herself a few pennies.

Make use of what you have

Unlike that Green Granny, we modern folk often fail to make use of the things we already hold in our hands.

Many people I know, while desiring to be more green, follow fads and trends. And instead of using what they have or making do in some way, often spend money unnecessarily.

I now realize that reusing such things is far better for the planet than recycling them. And it can save a few pennies here and there. Now that’s being green and thrifty – and at no extra cost!

3 Ways to repurpose or reuse:

Try these effortless ways to be like that thrifty, green granny!

1. 🧴 Repurpose Glass, plastic, and cardboard containers

Trying to buy things with little or no packaging is best. But when that’s not possible repurpose those containers to store food items, organize household items, to take food away with you, or even as plant pots!

2. ✉️ Reuse envelopes, paper, or greeting cards

Envelopes or the clean side of used paper make great grocery or to-do lists. And used greeting cards can be made into cute new greeting cards!

3. 🛍️ Reuse Paper and plastic bags

Make the switch to cloth or usable shopping bags. And when you do have to use paper or plastic shopping bags or buy things packaged in them, like the Green Granny reuse them to store food or other items when possible.

I’m grateful for the granny’s lesson of getting back to the old-fashioned ways of our grandparents.

Back to when the adage was: “Make do or do without.” Because it helps us appreciate what we already have, and learn to put to use the things we already have instead of rushing out to buy new.

We need to get back to making do, reusing, repurposing, or sometimes even simply doing without. It protects your wallet and our planet!

Now before tossing something I ask, “Is it really trash, or could it be used at least once more?” That empty bread bag? Whether paper or plastic, I stick it to the side. Then pack my husband’s sandwich in it. If coworkers give him funny looks I say, “Tell them you’re protecting God’s creation!”

Actually, we try to buy our food with as little packaging as possible. And I also have my own nifty, homemade sandwich bags that we use over and over. But thanks to Thrifty Granny, I now try to reuse my trash too!

Reusing or repurposing trash is really quite simple. It’s really just a matter of changing our mentality!

Do you repurpose trash, or does the idea seem crazy to you? If you do, share your ideas!

We have forgotten to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do.

Barbara Ward

Images: Lamp post by Signora Sheila | Emojis from Emojipedia | Coffee jar by Josh Appel | Piggy bank by maitree rimthong.

14 thoughts on “Where Thrift Reigns: The Italian Village of Thrift

  1. His is too funny Sheila – well, funny isn’t perhaps the best word. Anyway, I can relate… we have more ice cream tubs than I can shake a stick at, filled with toiletries, sock, bits ‘n’ bobs & organizing cupboards. I use the plastic milk bottles to start plants in the greenhouse come Spring, and Liz’s latest is keeping dish water /hand washing water or bath water to flush or water outside plants. At first I balked, but it did make a noticeable impact on our water bill. (My one stipulation: guests do NOT ‘bucket flush’ 😆)


    1. Wow Mike, you really do reuse a lot of things. Good for you| I would suggest switching to the cardboard rolls from toilet paper for starting plants though. You can just stick the whole thing right in the ground and it’s good for the soil! It’s funny though, our milk here comes in cardboard cartons not plastic. (Which I think is better, the paper will eventually break down!) We also reuse water when we can, especially because our summers are so dry here. But I agree – guests should not have to use the bucket!! So if you come for a visit you can have the joy of flushing, lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I try to reuse a lot of things when I can. Every time I have a candle that burns all the way down, I remove the wax and put it in a warmer. Then I clean the jar and reuse it for other things.


    1. Excellent, Michelle! There are so many things like that which we often overlook. But not the people in this village! I don’t think they throw away hardly anything!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Isn’t it funny-peculiar how habits born of necessity – whether it’s reusing bottles and bags instead of throwing them out – get ‘reinvented’ and renamed in our more modern and privileged societies? Or we find an expensive new way to make up for the benefits we lost when we became too civilized? (E.g. Health-club memberships and personal trainers versus physical labour of earlier decades.)


    1. Ha, that’s a good one, Cynthia. Health clubs, etc. And so true. Also what we call “green” at one time used to be just plain old necessity. And in the meantime we really trash our planet. Our “progress” – which is good – isn’t always better or even more advanced in a lot of different ways. I think we can learn much from some of the old-timers!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We do recycle everything we can here. I’m sure there are things we could reuse more often if we could get our brains to think outside of the box. I need to look at things with fresh eyes!


    1. Exactly Linda! That’s what I am learning from these simple old-time country folks. They are definitely out-of-the-box. In fact, I sometimes wonder if a box was ever made they would fit into. They’re great!!


  5. As a matter of principle I do my best to use every drop of product in a bottle or jar. That means cutting open the hand lotion bottle when the pump doesn’t dispense anymore, in order to access what’s left in the bottom.(Sometimes I wonder if they’re designed that way on purpose so we buy more!) It also means using a toothpick or other tool to scrape out Chapstick from the bottom of the tube. Those are just two examples. Such practices may sound silly to some but I get at least another couple week’s worth of product. Yes, it’s only pennies, but pennies add up over the years!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Nancy! You could give some lessons on frugality. I thought I was doing “pretty good” – but you put me to shame!! I’ll have to start doing some of that too. Thanks for the tips!


        1. Don’t worry, Nancy. I meant it in a good way. In the sense that you gave great ideas and helped me want to do even better!! That’s why we need each other!!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I love that Green Granny gave a gift from the heart with the packaging from a mind of thrift. Waste seems to be an American phenomena even though we preach green. Waste not, want not, as my own granny always used to say. Great post, my friend.


    1. Thanks Dayle. I like the way you put it. From the heart with a mind of thrift. That’s a great way to approach everyday life! We learn a lot from these simple older folk, and count them as blessings!


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