For Myself Rather Than for the Earth hr669

Hidemi Woods
3 min readAug 19, 2023

I am stingy. I switch off the lights, turn off a faucet, and shut the refrigerator door as soon as I finish using them. I mend holey socks and replace loose elastic strings on pajama pants instead of buying new ones. Whether at home or at a restaurant, I never leave food on my plate. I finish drinks completely, too. People in Japan where I live tend to leave a small amount of drinks in a glass at a restaurant as if it were good manners. I strongly oppose it.

I assume my stinginess had been nurtured by my grandparents who raised me. They were super duper stingy for whom I can be no match. Basically our house was in darkness because they wouldn’t use electricity. Even at dinner time, we turned on the least necessary light for the table and ate our house-grown vegetables mainly. My grandparents were neither vegetarians nor poor. They were quite wealthy for that matter. They lived like that because they wanted to. Being thrifty was their principle.

My grandmother spent most of her day mending something. I don’t recollect that she ever bought new clothes. She was wearing old kimonos that she had kept patching or sewing up a rent for years. If one of her kimonos got to the state where it was too tattered to be worn, it transformed into dusters by her. She mended old futons to keep using, stitched up old towels to make them dust cloths, and washed used disposable plastic bowls of instant noodles to use them as pots for plants in the front yard. She never wasted anything and hardly threw away anything. The scary thing was, she was an amateur compared to her husband.

My grandfather was wearing old shoes with a hole and a worn-out jacket with drooping front pockets when he went out. At the department store, he would exclaim in a loud voice, “How expensive!” on every merchandise he saw, and go home without shopping for anything although he had plenty of money. He used to take me with him there when I was little and I hated to be with him as I was so embarrassed at his behavior. He sometimes ate out on his way home from an errand and often took leftovers home with him in a doggie bag. He would give it to me as if it had been a nice souvenir. Inside of the bag were always meager pieces of food, some of which were half bitten off. I was impressed by his courage to ask the server for a doggie bag to take this kind of leftover each time. I couldn’t figure out how it was possible that he wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed but proud of what he was doing. He just didn’t care what people thought about him or how he looked to them. He was confident in what he did and how he looked. His attitude appeared that his way was the right one and others’ were wrong. With that belief in his mind, he enjoyed his way immensely.

Lately, I feel that the times have been catching up with my stinginess. As companies and governments have promoted high-sounding agendas such as a sustainable society or an eco-friendly environment, more and more people are considering food loss and energy conservation. They are shopping by bringing their reusable eco bags and using old stuff instead of throwing them away. But I sense my way is slightly different from others. I am stingy not for public interest. It’s simply my natural way that I like to take. I may look embarrassing and laughable to others, but I would rather be true to myself. I don’t think it’s worth giving up our true selves by prioritizing how we look to others over what we really want to be. And I suppose my grandparents felt the same way. I have finally been made to realize that.

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