wash it out

I caught the habit of washing and keeping every container, plastic or glass, from my family. Reusing, recycling, reimagining– these were not new ideas to me, and though the jingle is ingrained in my memory, I didn’t get it from TV, either.

Those woven plastic strawberry baskets held the sponges at the sink. Spices and pickles were stored in jars with the labels removed, sometimes with only partial success. We used to keep our raw rice in an industrial-size cherry filling bucket (probably from a doughnut shop someone worked at one point or another).

It was only natural that things would get re-purposed somehow.

When I go grocery shopping now, I think a lot about containers. I hate buying things that come in plastic bags (and if they do come in plastic bags, I always keep the bags for something else). The deciding factor between jams or honeys is not so much the label but whether the container is glass. When I moved out of– anywhere (since I move often)– I find an array of washed-out yogurt containers and glass jars in the cupboards.

I’ve laughed and called it ‘refugee mentality,’ I’ve joked with friends about the way everything was always kept, reused, re-purposed somehow, but really, isn’t it just common sense? To do something other than throw away what might still have use, what might be used for something else?

Maybe the island of trash floating in the Pacific would be a bit smaller if more of us had it.