Chicken Scratchin’s: Isn’t our world worth a little bit of effort? – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Chicken Scratchin’s: Isn’t our world worth a little bit of effort?

Gifted freezer containers were perfect for preserving this year’s sweet corn crop.

It is sometimes said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But in today’s world we should strive to no longer produce any trash. At our house for example, we make every attempt to reuse, repurpose and recycle what we can to minimize the amount of trash we send to the landfill. And thanks to the successful recycling program in Osage County we are able to recycle most of our trash.

I remember when I was in junior high we had a young, enthusiastic science teacher that tried very hard to get the school and community involved in recycling. This was a new concept for all of us and I remember volunteering at the recycle center thinking we were saving the world. On Saturdays we unloaded sacks of newspapers and bags of aluminum cans as people drove through the center. This was pretty progressive thinking for central Kansas in the early 70s, or so we thought.

Last spring I saw the same “we’re saving the world” look on the young faces of the Green Team at Santa Fe High School near Overbrook as they collected discarded computers, monitors and televisions. They too were saving reusable materials from a landfill, thereby saving our natural resources. They had a room full of TVs and a hallway of computer parts already when we arrived with our junk. We were happy to discard our trash and they were happy accumulating their treasures.

Unfortunately we have become a disposable society. We used to buy glass bottles of pop, drink the pop and then return the bottle for the few pennies from the deposit. Now we can buy water in individual plastic bottles by the case. Even though I try not to buy this product, it is too convenient at times. Remember when they started putting butter in plastic tubs? These were saved, washed and used for leftovers by most moms. I hope I am not the only one that can think of a hundred uses for an empty butter tub.

I know that saving and recycling isn’t for everyone. I myself came by it naturally as my grandmother lived through the Depression and she taught me so many things about repurposing items to fit your needs. She saved everything from plastic bread sacks to Styrofoam meat trays to the elastic off of old underwear. Her generation lived through a time when simple everyday things like tires and sugar were rationed because demand far exceeded supply. Clean meat trays can make fast takeout plates for leftovers, new inner soles for shoes, even a small paint tray. Don’t laugh but the elastics cut off the top of your old underwear will make a great giant rubber band perfect for securing any item that it will fit around.

Coworkers bring me empty egg cartons and plastic pots that flowers come in. They know I have chickens and a greenhouse and I sell eggs and plants so I can reuse what they bring me. Another friend brought me a sack of freezer containers discarded by her parents. Now most are in my freezer full of vegetables from our garden.

One of my favorite reuse items come from my mom. We were a meat, potato and gravy family. She used a marshmallow crème jar as a gravy mixer for years. A little flour and milk in the jar, tighten the lid, shake like crazy and you are ready to add the mixture to hot grease to make the very best gravy. I have had the same jar for several years, and I have no idea why it has to be a marshmallow crème jar. You don’t mess with tradition or you will get lumpy gravy.

I hope that you will try to reuse, repurpose or recycle something today. It does take a little extra effort, but I think you will agree our world is worth it.


Thank you to the members of the 2013 SFT Green Team, who put a lot of effort into saving our world’s resources last spring. The team collected piles of electronic devices to be recycled after asking the community to drop off unwanted electronics at the high school.

williams_jan_1Jan Williams is a farm girl, but was raised in a town. She has finally gotten back to where she thinks she belongs – in the country. She occasionally shares some of her rural experiences with a side of Chicken Scratchin’s. She lives in Osage County, Kansas, with a husband, a dog, two cats and nine chickens.

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