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by CareyBot

As the child of Depression-era parents who still save old bits of string, used gift wrap, and the flimsy plastic trays from candy boxes, I too am mentally incapable of seeing things go to waste. This confounding compulsion to conserve goes well beyond the usual household flotsam. When I'm dining out, not only do I feel guilt at leaving a few bites of food on my plate -- I feel even worse when the guy at the next table leaves half his steak dinner to be thrown out. I'm always annoying my wife by rushing around turning off lights, because in the back of my mind I imagine how much oil, gas or coal is being burned to keep that bulb lit for no reason. Likewise, I shower under a relative trickle of hot water because it bothers me to think of all that hard-won energy literally pouring ...