Last week I strongly encouraged you to make use of the trash can when de-cluttering — which is something we should do a lot more often than we think! 🙂

I hope you didn’t go out and trash everything you could find, because there is another option for SOME of the things you might consider discarding if you bring a little creativity and initiative to the equation.

Woman Gleaning

Are you familiar with the biblical concept of gleaning?  Gleaning was a method of providing for the poor among the Israelites – whether they were of Jewish or foreign descent.

Gleaning isn’t mentioned a whole lot, but verses like Leviticus 23:22 and Deuteronomy 24:19-22 along with Leviticus 19:9-10 give the command:

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:9-10

We see this in practice in ancient times when we read the story of Ruth:

And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers,

Ruth 2:2-3

When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.  And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”  So she gleaned in the field until evening.

Ruth 2:15-17

The modern term for gleaning – where food is concerned – is Food Recovery.  And, while we don’t have laws insisting we all participate in gleaning, there are all sorts of regulations and guidelines for Food Recovery.

I have been the beneficiary of gleanings – in seminary a local bakery donated their day-old breads to the seminary twice per week.  Students volunteered to pick up the bread and deliver it to the community center, where anyone could select from the bags of food.

I read an article once, though of course I cannot find it now, about a Christian business owner who generated a lot of wood waste.  Instead of selling the shavings, scraps, and saw dust, he donated it.  Think that’s a weird thing to donate?  Pet stores, schools, and woodworkers regularly use all three.  Alameda County in California put together a whole document on how to inject wood waste back into the economy to keep it out of landfills.

Bringing it a little closer to home, I recently received an e-mail from a reader (a friend of my mother-in-law in Arizona) who blogs here – and yes, I asked and she granted permission to share this story.

She is a quilter, and therefore generates (and uses) a lot of fabric scraps.  It turns out, fabric scraps were a major source of clutter for her.

She wrote,

Being a seamstress and quilter, it’s really hard to through those little pieces away. I might be able to put them in a quilt someday. Well, the hands can no longer hand quilt, but I still have the problem.

In God’s providence, a conversation at Bible study led to the discovery that a friend worked for a dog shelter in need of fabric scraps.  Apparently,

… she was part of a group of ladies that made dog beds for the animal shelters and they preferred to stuff the dog beds with material scraps. If they used batting, it was expensive and the dogs would just tear the beds apart. So, we have been able to get rid of our scraps to a cause that is great!

So, sometimes there is a place, other than the waste bin, to donate our “gleanings.”

I’m not giving you permission to donate trash to the local GoodWill or Salvation Army.  I’m simply suggesting, if you have a lot of some kind of scrap, do a little bit of research to see if there is someone or some organization out there which could use your “gleanings.”  If not, I still highly recommend sharing them with Oscar the Grouch.  🙂

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Photo Credit: Alawite Woman Gleaning by Whiting, John D. (John David), 1882-1951, and Matson, G. Eric (Gästgifvar Eric), 1888-1977 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons