Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Mom the Enviromentalist

This weekend Paul and I drove with my mom to Sequim to visit my brother and his family. Long story short some one needed a drink of water and my mom whipped out her water bottle -- a metal water bottle. I congratulated her on it, she said well of course I'm not using a plastic bottle, and then she proceeded to lecture me about the evils of plastic bottles, overflowing landfills, and such.

My mom has always reused, renewed, and recycled way before it was hip -- it was just a way of life for her. When she was growing up there was no curbside trash collection in Japan (or electricity, or running water). Trash had to be burned, buried or turned into compost. I remember splitting the raw and cooked food into two containers, raw for the compost heap, and cooked to be disposed of as trash. The cooked food was drained and then whirled in the blender with some water. Then mom would strain the mixture and the liquid went down the sink. Whatever was collected in the sieve was then dumped in the trashcan. No packaging escaped compaction . Pop cans were smashed and saved in bags to take back to the plant for whatever pittance they were offering then. Milk cartons (paper or plastic) squished, and metal cans smashed flat (with the tops and bottoms inside) before they were thrown out. Newspaper was rolled into "logs", tied off with string and burned in our fireplace to help stretch out our supply of Duraflame logs.

It was all very tedious and time consuming, and instead of continuing to practise them I turned them into examples of how far we'd come in our world of convenience. Now that I'm (finally) starting a compost pile I have a lovely ceramic piece in the shape of a trashcan that sits on my counter top, with a charcoal filter in the lid to keep the smells at bay (my mom used an old coffee can with the plastic lid, or an old mixing bowl). My scraps are patiently waiting in the freezer to be dumped into the fancy two compartment compost box with a shared platform that my husband is building for me (my mom just dumped things in a pile in the backyard and staked chicken wire to keep it at bay). All this renewed interest in recycling, gardening, and urban chickens amuses my mom. Metal water containers, rain barrels, composting aren't new she reminds me, and laughs that she's lived long enough to see practices she once thought of as old-fashioned being introduced as new ideas today.

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