Recycling at home

By: Cris Evert B. Lato-Ruffolo May 25,2019 - 06:48 AM

A fellow mother once asked me about how I deal with the plastic toys in the house. I never gave it much thought really until I slipped on a toy car and found myself staring at our white ceiling of our home, thinking how in the world did I end up with three children when life was less noisy and more organized without one.

After nursing a sore behind and my bruised ego, I was on a mission to tidy up the house a little bit; our home that we lived as a family for two years now but one that I purchased back in 2012 as a 25-year-old lady with the mission to be self-reliant.

My husband and I decided that we will NOT do any interior designing of the house. The lot cut is long and narrow, perfect for the children to run back and forth. They can tumble and roll and do cartwheels and somersaults as much as they want. We have succeeded in hiding valuable breakables. I learned to teach myself not to like intricately-designed plates and elegant drinking glasses because chances are they will end up shattered into pieces whether intentional or accidental.

I have three children in the house. Our twins, Nicholas and Antoinette, who are turning six years old in a little over a month; and our youngest, the three-year-old, Jeffrey Jr., who never seems to run out of energy even after the sun sets in the west.

With three children at home, we generate loads of biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes. Much of these garbage are broken toys, diapers and plastic bottles. There are some clothes too, which I refused to hand over to the victims of natural or manmade disasters because they are simply too shabby to be given away.

Over two years ago, I thought about how can I recycle and/or lessen the production of wastes in our home. Trust me when I write that I decided to adopt practices which are doable and practical for me.

I listed down some of the these below:

Plastic bottles to ecobricks

In graduate school, I learned about ecobricks. Ecobricks are plastic drinking bottles packed with dry, non-biodegrable wastes and are turned into reusable building blocks. What you do is to basically gather those plastic bottles and stuff them with dry, di malata wastes. Pack them tight inside the bottle using a stick. It’s not yet known that much in Cebu but Jogen Lim, whom I know as a managing director of learning center in Cebu, is an advocate of eco-bricks and holds gatherings for people to know about this. Check out Facebook pages such as Ecobricks Philippines and The Plastic Solution to know more about ecobricks and other ways you can contribute to lessen plastic pollution.

I have since given up our over dependence on plastic bottles and chose to buy reusable water containers for both myself and my children. This is not to say that we have completely eradicated plastic bottles in our lives. We still make the occasional purchases. But we are getting there and we have made a conscious effort to lessen our plastic wastes. That includes to always bring our reusable water bottles anywhere we go.

Toys from cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls

Remember my slipping incident? I then announced to my three mutants that I am imposing a three-month suspension on buying plastic toys. I had them repeat a line: “We don’t buy toys, we make them.” What followed were weekly sessions of toy making that started off with the use of cereal and pancake boxes.

Our generation of parents are so lucky because we have Google and Youtube to run to when we want to create something. That’s exactly what I did when I wanted to transform a pancake box into a guitar for Nicholas. We also made microphones from toilet paper rolls and old newspapers.

Toy rotation

Still on the toy subject… you know how much of an eyesore it is to have all those plastics scattered everywhere in the house? It doesn’t matter if it’s in the living rooms or the kids’ toy room.

My advice is to practice toy rotation. If you read up on these in-depth, some mothers and experts will teach you to divide the toys according to the following categories: pretending toys, thinking toys and moving toys.

I have so little patience to do that. Instead, I just gathered the toys and then divided them into three groups. I rotate the toys every month so each month, there seems to be a “new set of toys” for them. It’s quite taxing in the beginning but you will get the hang of it once you’ve got the system rolling.

Vegetable growing

Here’s a confession: I have a green thumb and I can grow almost any plant there is available. But… I have no time to maintain them because I am one busy mother bee. I have an untamed garden at home but not anywhere close to what I want. But I have harvested spring onions and ginger in that little garden. When I cook, which I do at least once a week, I often use spring onions and ginger. Since I buy my produce at the wet market, the spring onions always comes with roots. I hate to throw those roots away. I always replant them. I just cut two inches from the roots and then plant it on recycled five-liter water bottles filled with garden soil. Some of my “pots” are tin cans from my twins’ baby days, which my mother conveniently transformed into homes for ginger and pepper. I would love to work on this project some more and learn how to grow eggplant and okra.

Plastic bags

We use eco-bags most of the time but there are instances when we go out and chances are, we come home with plastic bags. What to do with all those shopping bags? The answer is not really rocket science. You just reuse them. The bigger plastic bags, I use them as lining for my backpacks every time I go mountain climbing or hiking. Some bags I use to wrap my clothes or slippers when I am away on a trip. The others I reuse as garbage bags.

Any other suggestions on what I can do to better recycle them?

Sewing magic

I learned how to mend rips and tears when I was 10 years old because there was a specific subject in school that taught us how to do it. It has since become a skill that I value through adulthood and more so in motherhood. I have learned to live a prudent lifestyle and teach my children to value what they have and make use of the things that we have first, instead of buying more material things that we don’t really need. Whether you have a needle and a spool of thread or a sewing machine, learning how to sew comes in handy when the button of your daughter’s uniform comes off or when the crotch of your son’s pants ripped open from too much playing.

I learned how to sew using a sewing machine back in high school but I only did it to comply with our Technology and Home Economics requirements. I wished I paid more attention. This year, one of my goals is to enrol in a sewing class so I will be able to learn to sew my own dresses (and my kids!) and make costumes for Halloween and other special occasions.

Recycling at home does not mean that you have to do grand things. It means doing the small things on a regular basis. When you think about it, recycling is more than just waste segregation. Recycling means combining your love for the environment and the practicality of managing a house with children while keeping your sanity intact.

Remember to enjoy the process and if possible, work on accomplishing these tasks with family members. It makes for great bonding time with the people who matter the most.


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TAGS: columnist Cris Evert Lato Ruffolo, Nanay Says, Primary Homes, recycling at home

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