28 February 2008

Early memories: the environmental 2 R's

What do we do with all these discarded stuff? I bet some of them can be reused and/or recycled. I remember my first exposure to reusing and recycling stuff. When I was still small, I would see my parents collecting used bottles and newspapers and selling them. The bottles were mostly beer and soft drinks bottles. There were some small medicine bottles as well. For the beers and soft drinks bottles, we would usually bring empty ones to the small sari-sari (variety) store down the road every time we bought drinks. For the other bottles, my parents would either take them to the market themselves or the buyers would come to the house in their wooden carts, collecting and buying used items. But then through the years, most of the soft drinks bottle have been replaced with plastic containers and there is now no need to return or exchange them. They were either reused for drinking water, or thrown away. But the beer bottles are still there and still being reused.

For the newspapers, well, we had lots of them because my Dad always buys all the newspapers available. That time there were 3 major newspapers and a couple of tabloids. We had all of them. Also included were the women's magazines and komiks. So when cash was short, we would take the piles of paper from the storage room and take them to a buyer in the market. These papers were then made into simple bags of different sizes. Then the buyer would again sell these to retailers who use them to wrap goods they sell. What the consumers did with these bags was unknown to me. I know though that these papers could be used as fuel in the "dirty" kitchen, the place where firewood or charcoal were the main fuel for cooking. A lot of smoke is produced by these fuel that it is not possible to use them in the main house, thus it is usually a separate structure connected to the main house. The main kitchen itself is inside the main house, but only a gas or electric stove is used for cooking as they do not produce smoke.

These things happened many, many years ago, c.60s-80s. Things have changed since then. And especially, the mighty plastic-the-answer-to-all-your-needs have come into the picture. But now, it seems that many are reverting to the previous ways of doing things. And that is good!

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