My parents both come from Zacatecas, a state in Mexico known for their beautiful landscapes, history, and culture. My mother comes from a small ranch called Tlaltenango and my father from the capital of Zacatecas, called Zacatecas. Most of my father's side of the family lives in the city. My dad's brother who is a carpenter and regularly practices sustainability by reusing pieces of wood to make new things, fixing old items that were probably once considered unfixable, and encouraging others to find a way to repurpose their old things.
The item I carry with me was once a piece of ply board now turned into a key holder with Zacatecas burnt onto the leather. He made it with two intentions, to create something from other things, and to serve to us as a memorabilia of the beauty of Zacatecas and our family. While just a keychain, it now hangs on the wall. What was once piece of a larger piece of wood, what was once a piece of leather is now something more beautiful and with more significance than the original piece. It’s a reminder of how my uncle thought anything can be repurposed, and that anything’s original purpose can be changed.
One example I will never forget is how he asked my brother and I if we could find a strong, wishbone shaped piece of wood from a tree. And after looking around such piece of wood, we found it. The next step was to take an old shoe, and from that shoe, he cut out a large piece of its leather from it. He then took a rather strong elastic rubberband and connected the piece of wood and the piece of leather to each other. And just like that, he created a slingshot. I was quite amazed at how something could be fashioned with items that are just laying around, how he had the idea of reusing a shoe, which would have been otherwise thrown out, to create something entirely different. It’s this type of thinking that has helped me create things from other things, how to look closer at not just what it is for but what it can do.
I use this type of thinking in my everyday life. From building shelves out of used wood, creating a tree house made entirely made from pallets and reusing the nails in the pallets, to using jam bottles to rebottle food items. I no longer first think of what I need to buy, rather how can I find a way to make it. I look around at everything I have, maybe it be an extra piece of wood, left over paint, an old blanket and find ways in which I can create something new and give it significance. And sometimes, it carries more significance than what it was originally for because of the thought, care, and time invested into repurposing it, and thinking creatively on what else it can do.