Posted by: ktzefr | August 22, 2014

5 Reflections on Recycling…

     It’s recycle day in my neighborhood.  Every Friday — newspapers, cans, glass, cardboard, plastic.  The sound of the back-up beeper on the trash truck got me to thinking.  In eastern Kentucky I grew up recycling before recycling became the thing to do.  A purpose could be found for almost every bottle and tin can and box headed to the trash.  Recycling came naturally in Appalachia.  It still does to me.


A simple sweet potato vine in a classy coffee can.

1)  I wore hand-me-down clothes, and the ones that served me well and still looked good got handed down again.  My mom hemmed and let out hems, added new elastic to waistbands, turned skirts into aprons.  We also kept pigs and cows and the animal feed came in huge, colorful fabric sacks, which she turned into dresses for me once they were emptied.  One year I had a lovely, full-skirted Easter dress that was white with tiny blue flowers.   The downside?  The same as it is for young girls today — there’s always someone with the same dress.

2)  For a time in her teens my sister sold mail-order clothes to make extra money.  Every few weeks she received a package in the mail containing a new stack of 8 1/2 by 11 glossy sheets of paper with pictures of dresses and skirts and suits.  Each sample had a small swatch of fabric to go along with the picture.  Old sheets became paper dolls or drawing/writing paper for me.  The tiny swatches of fabric found their way into my mom’s quilts.  When I was in bed with pneumonia once for several days I was mesmerized by a single square amongst a multitude of others against a bright blue background — a two-inch tall ballerina en pointe with one leg forever in the air.

3)  In my parents’ store we sold carbide to coal miners who used it to light the lamps on the hats they wore underground.  The carbide came in huge purple cans that had a number of recyclable possibilities.  We rolled the cans on their sides and “walked” on them (sort of like the dogs that walk on those big balls in circus acts).  Carbide cans had rings of “ridges” top to bottom that made it easy to grasp the slippery metal with our feet.   Grownups turned the cans into extra seats or used them as bases for makeshift tables on which to play checkers in the back of the store.

     In many places I’ve traveled over the years I’ve discovered that people, especially those lacking in luxury, can be quite creative in giving a second life to old objects. 

4)  In her home outside Otavalo, Ecuador, Ludmila spins yarn using a recycled bicycle wheel. 

Spinning yarn, Otavalo, Ecuador; Photo:MFawcett

Spinning yarn, Otavalo, Ecuador; Photo:MFawcett

5)  The village of Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica lies on a finger of land in the rainforest between the Tortuguero River and the sea.  The only way to get here is by boat or small plane that lands on a dirt airstrip alongside the beach.  There are no roads, no cars, in the village.  So, it was amusing to see the beautiful recycled car tires used as hanging planters.

Recycled Art, Tortuguero, Costa Rica; Photo:MFawcett

Recycled Art, Tortuguero, Costa Rica; Photo:MFawcett

     Ahhh…memories.  The best way to recycle life experiences!




  1. Nice! ♥

    • Thanks, Nirvana!

  2. Great memories!

  3. Great stories, summed up with a great final sentence 😀

    • Thanks, Stacy!

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