Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day!

Way before Earth Day was established, my mother has been an avid practitioner of recycling and we were not about to break that practice. When we were very young, she collected brown bags, those small ones used for brown bagging school lunches. Those types of brown bags used to be the bags used by vendors for packaging small amounts of whatever one bought at the marketplace. Nowadays, the normal packaging are plastic bags. Anyway, after Mom has collected a good amount of these bags, and on one of her trips to the market, she went to her favorite vendor (suki in our dialect) of salt and exchange the bags with salt to the value of the bags. Because of the number of children in our household, including cousins, we would have a lot of cans of milk collected. The only milk we knew then was the Carnation evaporated milk or condensed milk which probably was 12-16 fluid ounces. She used these cans to propagate plants, mostly cactus and succulents. Seasons when people were expected to visit our city, she'd take these plants to a plant retailer in the market and sell it to them.

Aside from raising us kids, she raised chickens, pigs, and sometimes goats. For the pig food, she would send one of the kids to collect leftovers from neighbors who had student boarders. We also went to the vegetable market and collect the cabbage leaves or any other greens taken off from their merchandise of vegetables, thus helping the vendor get rid of their garbage of greens. She would cook the greens mixed with the leftovers collected from the neighbors in a huge pot using wood we collected from open spaces, mostly fallen branches from pine trees.

Mom came from a farming family. She had the green thumb. But her secret came from the use of a lot of things available for free. She collected the chicken dung and put these aside until these have broken down enough to use in her garden, same with horse manure. She had spanish tomato tree, banana trees, chayote, and sweet potato (camote) in her small yard. We had a good supply of spanish tomato jam (tasted like strawberry jam), fresh bananas that we shared with a lot of people, fresh chayote shoots and sweet potato shoots. Some of us kids collected/picked bottles; when we've collected enough, we sold these to buy movie tickets. We collected newspapers and magazines so that we can get money for comic books.

Our house was small, but my parents managed to house not only the 7 kids but also 2 to 3 cousins, several relatives and 4 roomful of student boarders. And to top that off, the smaller kids always got hand me downs.

Everyday was earth day to us and the practice of reuse, recycle, waste nothing helped us immensely and in our own small way preserve nature in the space and time we were and are in. Happy Earth Day!


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