Monday, June 4, 2012


I always enjoy opening my email and finding mail from my readers. A question that has often been asked of me is: Do the Amish recycle?

I can not speak for every Amish family or community but what I can do is share our personal experiences of being Amish.

We were raised with this saying:

Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without.

The garbage truck did not make regular stops at our house. Once a year was usually all that was necessary to pick up a bag of garbage which usually consisted of any dishes that had been broken, worn out wicks for the oil stove, and a few empty tin cans from pineapples.

The few newspapers we received were saved. They were used for several different things before we discarded them. Spreading them in a guest bedroom and then covering them with tea leaves to dry. Twisted into newspaper logs to use for fire starters in our stove. Wetting them and placing them under tomato plants to keep moisture there for the plants and reduce weeds.

Plastic grocery bags were saved. Some to be used again as a bag when ever we needed one but most were cut in half and given to my aunt Emma. She had a rug loom and made hundreds of rugs to sell. We especially liked the ones she made with grocery bags to use on our porch or in the basement where muddy shoes and boots were used.

Since we raised and canned most of our own food, tin cans were rare but the ones we did get got used until they were ugly before we put them into the garbage. A little kerosene in the bottom and dropping potato bugs into them. A container to hold earthworms to go fishing. Molds to make silos out of sand in the sandbox. And yes, even potty training.

Old clothes were torn into strips and used to make rugs. Fabric scraps were saved to make quilts. Food scraps were fed to pigs or other animals.

We never took things to a recycling center, but I would still say we did our fair share of recycling.


  1. All those recyling efforts are indicative of a thoughtful people and admirable.

  2. I think it's hilarious that people want to know if the Amish recycle! lol Back in the day even the English did all of the same things that the Amish do today. In today's times we have too much trash because of all of the prepared foods that we buy. Then if you live where I live they don't have recycling with our trash. There are places I could drive it to but that would defeat the purpose because it is a good hour away.

  3. I so enjoy reading your blog, I live on a beef farm in the Catskills of NY about 3.2 hrs from you. I was wondering when you say that you make rugs from scraps of material how this is done as my mom always had rugs like that, they were made by the church now they do not make them anymore and would love to have them again. Thanks for letting us all read about your life and happenings.
    God Bless

  4. Yes, I think it is fair to say that the Amish do recycle. We all need to subscribe more to that adage about wearing things out or doing without. So true. Our society is too wasteful. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I think that those are the best ways to recycle and I'd say if most Amish are like you, you're probably the best in the world at it!

  6. For jem60's comment (above), there are books at the library on how to make rag rugs of every kind. I think any question is funny that starts with, "Do the Amish..." because that could have 100 different answers. A lot of that also depends on if you live rurally or in the suburbs or city. We can't burn trash or things like that and I know people that live in the country are able to sometimes. Great post - and I love that little saying! ♥

  7. I think some things like recycling are universal regardless if one is Amish or not. Richard

  8. The three R's are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. They are in that order on purpose.

    I'd say you really Reduced by not buying things and growing your own food.

    You Reused until something wasn't reusable.

    So you may not have Recycled as most people think of it, but that's supposed to be the last option. It's actually good that you didn't have enough to recycle.

  9. My grandparents instilled that same saying in my folks. I've not done as well for later generations, but we're moving back into it. Between compost and goats, we're good; more tin cans than we should; finding new use for old wood; and material darned until scraps are pieced and quilted. It's a good habit and a economical one.

  10. We always saved all our tin cans. Most of them were used in the garden to protect the young cabbage plants from the cool spring winds and late frosts, by cutting open both ends and put then around the young plants.

  11. I'm not and my family never was Amish but my Grandparents lived by the adage,waste not,want not ! I can braid a rug from scraps of material or hook one on burlap id the need arises. A lot of what they call " crafting " I call making do.
    Anxious to read your book,

  12. I liked your small bunk beds and the fact that they wold be recycled over and over, within the family.
    Most of our furniture is generations old and it reminds me of the people who owned it before it was handed down to us.
    Isn't it odd that most people see recycling as a modern phenomena? Until the 1960s it was done as a matter of course. Everybody reused bags, containers and newspapers. Clothes and toys were handed down.My grandmother unravelled old sweaters and reused the wool. Torn sheets were cut down, hemmed and used as cot sheets, dish cloths etc.We never considered not doing these things.

  13. Recycling at its best; without thinking about it as recycling, but thinking of it instead as just what you do in your day to day life!

  14. I would say it's much more earth friendly to re-use everything. That way, you recycle all on your own. Great philosophy!

  15. My DH thinks I'm nutty because I wash tinfoil & reuse it, as well as plastic bags.

    After reading your post, I'm going to HAVE to do better!


Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I love hearing your thoughts.