Waste not, want not

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Waste not, want not is a proverb that has been in use for hundreds of years. We will examine the meaning of the proverb waste not, want not, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Waste not, want not is a proverb that exhorts someone to conserve his resources so they may be used at a later time. The idea is to not waste things today so they may be put to good use tomorrow. For instance, many countries have initiated laws that govern how much water a toilet uses when flushing and how much water a showerhead sprays at a time to save water consumption. The expression waste not, want not came into use in the 1770s, though an earlier version had been in use since the 1570s: willful waste makes woeful want.


Waste not, want not: Dutch students build electric car from recycled material (Jakarta Post)

“Waste not, want not” was planted firmly in John Dorgan’s ethos as a kid, watching his father pull nails out of old boards for reuse. (MSU Today)

Waste not, want not: Mariko Shinju’s Mottainai Grandma character teaches children how to avoid being wasteful and to be respectful of their environment. (Japan Times)