Story Collected by Tania Sosa
Every morning I would wake up to the smell of coffee. For my parents, coffee in the morning meant energy to start the day off but for me it was much more. Coffee smelled amazing and the taste was just as great. Having coffee before school meant so much more than just a drink. It meant that my mom would take her time to make it so I would have something in my stomach. It also meant that we restocked pretty often. When there was no more coffee in the container it meant it was time to buy some more as soon as possible and, for me, it also meant that we had no more use for the container. Boy was I wrong.
The first time I was going to throw out the empty coffee container I remember my mom stopping me, “Que ases?/What are you doing?” It was a question with a simple enough answer. “It doesn’t have anything anymore so I’m throwing it out.” My mom then proceeded to take the container from me and admittedly, I was really confused. She then told me that we could use it for something else. It had never crossed my mind before that things could be repurposed. That was the start of something really great.
From that point on I tried to find multiple ways to use a container or something of that sort over again. We put food into empty containers that had a lid and could be easily accessed. My mom used some to start different types of flowers, herbs, and plants. We used different containers to store school supplies and other such things. The possibilities were endless! I even used one of the many coffee containers as a sort of piggy bank. This was the object that I decided to bring to the story circle. I felt it was appropriate to show how something that is rarely seen by many could have started something that should be done everywhere. My parents and teachers taught me that we should always do what we can to help minimize our impact on earth. Something that was highlighted throughout was the three R’s. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. I know now that because we live in such a corporate and consumer world it is sometimes hard to reduce what we purchase and that is where reusing and recycling come to be a greater part of lowering our impact on earth.
My mom taught me that reusing things creates very unique and unexpected results. And if something cannot be reused, always try to recycle it. She told me that she learned these things from growing up in Mexico. Her mom owned a small store and would always try to reuse things in the most creative ways. Also if you saved the glass bottles of drinks you would get new drinks at a discounted price. She found that her grandma also tried to instill in her different environmental lessons such as gardening. It is funny how children repeat what they see adults doing. And how they try to continue practicing these things even as they grow older. My mom now has many plants in the house in both reused and new containers. She says it brings something to the home that nothing else can. My mom believes that as long as there is love in an environment, such as our home, the plants will grow. I know that it may seem like a far fetched idea to many but when we get her flowers, those flowers will continue to be just as beautiful as the day she got them for weeks. I always tell my mom that she has that “magic touch”. She says that it isn’t magic it is just how you take care of them. She takes care of them just as her mother would back in Mexico and her mother before that. It always seemed to me that it was passed down from generation to generation but only to a few lucky ones (some of my aunts were not so lucky). I just hope that I too will have this “magic touch”.