Thoughts While Tending a Bonfire…

The throwout continues, and a satisfactory bonfire was just held to get rid of accounts and statements with card numbers on them, signatures and such… back in Aus we have a shredder and do this periodically. One can’t be too careful in these days of stolen identity stuff . tip – when destroying an old credit card I snip it into three pieces, chuck the outer two into the garbage, and put the middle one in a drawer or cupboard where it stays until months/years later when I find it and then throw it out in the bin, too.

While stoking the fire to make sure it all burned, I began to think about this process, and thought back about the lives our parents led. They paid for most things by cash or monthly settlement of a current account in places they did regular business, which they just settled around the middle or the end of the month when they went in. Once paid, the merchant turned over a new page and it started all over. No need to keep records at home. I know my parents did not keep a ledger or anything like that, their affairs were a bit chaotic, and ours are a bit the same way. DH’s parents relied solidly on the little brown teapot system – neither of them ever ran a cheque book let alone credit card. Paper rubbish that piled up in houses in those days were mostly either lots of letters from far flung friends and family – and/or daily newspapers that didn’t get thrown out, or heaps of magazines and peridocals that piled up in certain areas. Since all brown paper and tissue paper from fresh bread were carefully folded and kept in kitchen drawers and cupboards for re-use, along with string, there was a lot of other packaging stuff around, too. My mother kept boxes of all sizes – you just never knew when you needed one for a batch of rock cakes for a street stall, or one to put the things you mailed to interstate rellies for Xmas and other occasions.

Now, we do re-use supermarket bags in the kitchen bin; they are said to be biodegradeable (although they take forever to disappear) and we never need to buy garbage bags. Shops in this country often have lovely paper bags with handles for their goods, and these come in all sizes – most people I know keep some for that informal giving that goes on – such as a pot of chutney here, there some magazines, or hand me down clothing moving along.

For stuff that wasn’t to be re-used or the occasional confidential letters etc, most homes had an incinerator. And really that is what I have just used the parrilla for. In fact for several years it was my job to go out and burn the stuff in the incinerator once a load built up, mostly in summer – since we ran wood fires in winter to heat the house. Newspaper and other ‘clean’ paper were OK to light the fire inside the house, but detergent boxes for example went into the incinerator. Very little went into the two quite small garbage bins that were put out one night per week only, and we were a family of 5.

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