Baal tashchis: I've always felt uncomfortable about
this. I feel that I'm not careful enough. I should be less
wasteful. In today's society, even when we make an effort to
be thrifty, our results are small compared to earlier
generations. After all, how many people save string nowadays?
[I knew someone who washed out the plastic milk bags to save
as sandwich bags; even before Tnuva had campaigns.] But then
there are the "decluttering" experts. They inform us that if
something hasn't been used in a year, get rid of it. The idea
of a clutter-free home competes with the ideal of not being
wasteful. What's a conscientious homemaker to do?
Well, of course, I would rather give things away than throw
them away, or save them because I don't know what else to do
with them. Sometimes, however, this is not so easy. How do I
find people that need the very things I no longer want? This
dilemma is especially pronounced during the annual pre-
Pesach cleaning experience when moments of truth occur in
nearly every drawer and cabinet.
Baruch Hashem for siyata dismaya, for how
else would I manage?
Hashem sent me special help this year through an emissary.
Her name is Mikimi and she comes each week to help with my
laundry. But her help extends far beyond my washing machine.
The following is an actual example of a typical Wednesday
Mikimi enters the kitchen for a coffee break. I happen to be
going through my cabinets where baskets are overflowing into
Mikimi: I saw a pair of tights in the wastebasket.
Me: Well, the elastic is stretched out.
Mikimi: I know someone who could use them. You see, her
daughter has a large waist.
Me: Great. Take them. (I am holding five packages of Taco
Seasoning Mix that came as part of a Taco dinner. The taco
shells were eaten months ago and no one in our family will
ever want these.
Mikimi, would you happen to know anyone who could use these?
Mikimi: (without a moment's hesitation) Marla would love
them. (This is someone I run into about once a year and lives
on the other end of town.)
Mikimi: I'll be seeing her next week. I'll give them to her.
(She puts them into her tote bag next to the tights.)
As if on cue, the phone rings. Gittel asks me if I could use
any flour. She has too many bags to use up before Pesach.
Me: No, I'm trying to use mine up, but Mikimi is here, let me
Mikimi: (Again without missing a beat) Ask Avriel. She makes
bagels every week.
Me: (I feel that we're on a roll here.) My kids have decks of
cards with cards missing. They don't want to play with them.
Mikimi: Give them to me next week. I'll match them up with
the stray cards I keep at home and return full sets to you.
This reminds me of her button collection which has helped me
salvage several outfits with unusual buttons.
Before she leaves I ask her one more question. "What about
the ultimate homemaker plight? Single socks?"
She pauses for a moment and then answers thoughtfully: "I'm
sure that if everyone in town gave me their unpaired socks,
I'd be able to match them up..."
[Your Editor can't help throwing in a last word or two:
1)This Mikimi sounds like a Philipina (new female
conjugation) but this Heaven-sent wonder must have a name
designated by Heaven - mikimi mei'ofor - one who
salvages from the dustbins. And 2) did you know that many
local gemachs have button collections? Before a
garment is discarded, they snip off the buttons and bag them
and these can be tremendous savings. And, by the way, if the
gemachs have stopped accepting by now, save your GOOD
things for after Pesach, when they can handle them again.]