We live in a fairly eco-conscious area, so when my older daughter (OD) started kindergarten, she began talking about the importance of “renew, reuse, recycle.” We have a great recycling program in our city, so very little goes to waste; our recycling container is usually twice as full as our trash container.
I realize now that I’ve been recycling long before it was popular. I remember going to garage sales with my mom back in the 1970’s, and how exciting it was to find a great toy for a quarter. My mom would buy desks and dressers and fix them up. I haven’t been to a garage sale in a long time, but I love the thrift shop in our neighborhood, and Craigslist – really, a giant online garage sale – is the first place I look for furniture, toys, and video cassettes/DVDs. (And yes, I’m the strange woman driving slowly through the streets on trash day, who gets excited when she sees your broken, two-legged chair.)
I’ve always encouraged OD to make things instead of buying them, and that has worked for a long time (except that one time when I was making dinner and she asked me if I could help her make an overhead projector). Although she uses a lot of paper, she reminds us that it’s wasteful not to use both sides; and after a project reaches the end of its useful life, she knows to put it in the recycling bag.
And wonderfully, as I’ve been cleaning out and organizing the house, I’m finding that the kids love putting to use items that have been lingering in cabinets or on basement shelves. OD fell in love with a CD rack (probably from the ’80’s) that I found, and is fascinated with an old tape recorder, which was obsolete long before she was born. She also loves going to thrift stores with me (which to someone her age, are like museums), and asking what eight-track tapes are, or what that strange appliance is. It’s weirdly educational.
Renewal is a common theme in the poetry of Modern writer H.D. In this excerpt from “A Dead Priestess Speaks,” she reminds us of the hidden life in everyday things:
If you take the moon in your hands
and turn it around
(heavy, slightly tarnished platter)
if you pull dry sea-weed from the sand
and turn it round
and wonder at the underside’s bright amber,
look out as they did here,
(you don’t remember)
when my soul turned round,
perceiving the other-side of everything,
mullein-leaf, dog-wood leaf, moth-wing
and dandelion-seed under the ground.