UNITED STATES—There’s a great element of thrift and ingenuity in being Scottish. Witness an archival 1920s Bob Hope joke (I guess “Scottish” humor was hip then). “I went to a Scottish wedding. It was held in a barn. The hens could eat the rice the guests threw after the ceremony.”

Contrary to legend the light in the fridge burns out sooner or later. Mine did. Given that I have no natural inclination to shop for a special appliance bulb for a Reagan-era fridge, I’ve left it dark to see how it impacts my electric bill. Further, there’s the added advantage of keeping the refrigerator plunged in darkness during the non-eating hours when it’s “Lights Out” throughout the house. This helps my diet.

This is “Scottish” at its best, parlaying of advantage, killing three birds with one stone. No bulb in the refrigerator both conserves energy and reinforces the practice of not eating three hours before bedtime.

As the owner of a house, one becomes hyperaware of how utility use shows up on the bill. Monitoring every source of waste can help converse money, environment and produce beneficial side effects related to health and/or productivity.

Turning out lights, to the point of switching off the breaker for an unused appliance. Or better yet, sample the charming, romantic incandescence of candles to dine by. At the very least it’s a good workout for night vision. More often than not I take cold showers. It gets me breathing deeply, nay squealing and panting—so I get cleansed and my breathing exercises fortified. A cold shower cuts way down on water usage, sure; the shorter it is the better. It also adds minutes to my active day—there’s the element of time thrift here. Being cold, the shorter the better. The irony of a cold shower is your body actually feels warmer afterward, and it is after a nice warm shower your body is most vulnerable to chilliness.

Perhaps in the grand scheme of things we are renters on this Earth, we individuals come and go, but we ought not to treat mother Earth as renters treat their rentals. Approaching this planet as owners would compound the benefits for us and the planet—a double green impact would be seen, conserving resources and lining our pockets with more American green for superior uses, such as benevolence, charity and fun stuff, as well. And when we see the earth-house as our own, everything from litter to aggressive methods of extracting the Earth’s riches will be little tolerated.

The ban on plastic bags had spawned the new and quite comical “Scottish” activity of juggling groceries in order to save a paying a dime or two for a grocery bag. By juggling shopping items, you eliminate all the unneeded bags to dispense with at home. It has streamlined my shopping, in terms of time and money, as I have settled on three items as the ideal number for a typical grocery foray. I can always carry three items, and three usually corresponds to my true needs. Believe me we always need so much less than we think we do.

The ban on bags has aroused my creativity to find a receptacle in which the plastic vegetable bags—still freely supplied—may serve as a liner. So far a quart size clam juice can serves, but I’m in quest of something with a larger circumference. And the real question is, might not it be possible to use a container without a liner, periodically hosing it down, and eliminate having to use or buy liners altogether?

Here’s a brief happy list of items that a “Scottish” person need never buy:

–napkins (plenty of alternate ways to get napkins)

–zip-lock bags (ditto)

–paper towels (dry cloths and rags work just as well, and are reusable)

–paper clips (there’s always one waiting to be found)

–address labels (I finally discovered what to do with those pesky balance-transfer check offers the bank keep sending: snip out my pre-printed address on the checks. I eliminate identity theft risk resulting from the bank’s copious mailings, and I’ve got a source of free address labels. Woohoo!

To Be Continued…

Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” available on Amazon Kindle. He can be reached at grady.miller@canyon-news.com.

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Hollywood humorist Grady Miller grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon). His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)