The Slop Bucket

Years ago, I worked at a Boy Scout camp in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. Before being accepted for Staff, a young man would serve as a “trainee” for a month. Trainees would rotate through the various camp areas.  Doing the grunt work.   And spending a fair amount of time in the kitchen peeling potatoes, doing dishes and cleaning up.

After meals in the Mess Hall, Scouts and trainees would bus the tables. We would throw paper garbage into one garbage can. And we would put food waste into another.  The food barrel was called the “slop bucket.”  We were always careful about putting food scraps (no bones, no paper) in the slop bucket because we would give the slop bucket each day to a local farmer who would use it to feed his flock of pigs.  Uneaten food was used. . . . .

I have posted frequently on environmental issues.  And I have touted my registered trademark – JUST TURN IT OFF — a motto that applies to cars, lights, water and energy. 

When I read about how the earth is being inundated with waste, oceans are overflowing with garbage, rivers and lakes turning toxic and how many folks remain heedless of our environment, I get a wee bit steamed.   But then I simmer down — and start thinking about what we can do.  “Just turning off” your water, lights, car, energy – is one thing.  But there is also merit in reusing bags, bottles, containers.  And not polluting.  And then there is recycling. 

But there is also composting. Taking food waste and carefully mixing it with soil.  In the garden.  Or backyard.  You don’t need a slop bucket.  

We ALL really need to get on board with this idea of helping our limping planet along.  Pronto. We live here.  But we also have generations of souls who yet have no voice – who will have to live here too.  And they will have no choice but to take what we give them. . . . .   


My great friend Antonio, who lives in Monterrey, Mexico (see post of March 12, 2012), and I were communing about how conservation worked when we were young (he is a few years younger than me).  It was pretty simple.  

Bottles were returned for a deposit – then reused.  Clothes were dried on a line – by solar and wind power.  Not 220 volt dryers.  Diapers were washed and reused.  We had one television in the house with a screen the size of a placemat.  There were no “stadium sized” t.v.’s.  Our moms used an egg beater (there was no blender).  And when we shipped Christmas presents, our parents crumpled newspaper for packing.  There were no plastic “peanuts” or bubble wrap.  We cut the grass with a hand mower.    Wardrobes were pretty modest.  No “new models” except hand-me-downs.   There were no plastic water bottles (which today are made, used in a minute and thrown out by the trillions).  There was one water glass by the kitchen and bathroom sinks — that everyone used.   Rinse to clean – drink.   And stores and businesses had water fountains.  Thirsty?  Use the water fountain.   And dad changed razor blades in his Schick razor.  Nothing disposable. . . .  

Have we become lazy and complacent?  You tell me.   We hear the political trumpets sounding about saving the environment and how we must look forward and not back.  But I do think that looking backward – at least in some areas – could sure provide a lesson for looking ahead.   


I am concerned about the environment and especially the conservation of water and energy.  My first blog entry relates to this subject and poses a suggestion for conserving water (that frankly I’ve never seen before) — All you have to do is  Just Turn it Off!   In my opinion, this simple but catchy phrase can grab hold, make a difference and provide a basic education on water conservation for all.  More importantly — what’s not to like?            


Water.  We can’t live without it.  Yet there’s only so much of it on our planet.  And more than 95% of the water on our planet is salt water.  Thus it is natural that we would want to conserve our precious supply of fresh water, to use it sparingly and to keep it potable. 

Most of the water that enters our homes literally goes down the drain – into the sewer.  So what can the average person do to conserve fresh water and to preserve this valuable commodity for future generations?  JUST TURN IT OFF. 

By just “turning off” the water when it is not in use, you save gallons of fresh water every day.  If every person in America saved one gallon of fresh water daily, that translates to a savings of hundreds of millions of gallons of fresh water.  

So what can you do to help?  Just remember — JUST TURN IT OFF. 

●  When shaving, instead of leaving the water run, JUST TURN IT OFF.  And turn it on to rinse the razor as needed.

●  When taking a shower, turn on the water – get it to the temperature desired – stand under the shower and then JUST TURN IT OFF.  Soap down while the water is off. Frankly you will probably get cleaner than if the water just continues pouring down the drain.

●  When rinsing dishes, instead of leaving the water run, JUST TURN IT OFF and turn it on to rinse the next plate or pan. 

●  When watering outdoor plants and shrubs, make each drop count.  Use an on/off nozzle so that when moving from one plant to the next, you can JUST TURN IT OFF. 

●  Toilets should provide a flushing choice for disposing of liquid and solid waste. 

●  Rely on Mother Nature to water the lawn.  Use sprinklers only when necessary.

●  Wash only full loads of laundry. 

Let me know of any ideas you have to conserve water or energy! 

Coming soon —

©2011 by Scott Petersen – all rights reserved