When I was a child, I remembered living next to a junkyard. My parents were low-wage earners at the time; my mother was a hairdresser, while my father was still in college, trying to finish his civil engineering degree. I always played with the shop owner’s kids in the yard, doing hide-and-seek around the broken furniture and looking for “treasures” (old toys, screws, etc.) under the junk.
I could recall coming home every evening with grime on my face and clothes. And every time, my father would say, “Oh, my poor daughter. When I become a civil engineer and start building condominiums and skyscrapers, you will not need to touch grimy, broken items in a junkyard. Instead, you can play in jungle gyms and beautiful playgrounds for as long as you want.”
Perhaps because the junk shop was the only playground I grew up knowing, I told my father that I liked that place. After all, I learned so much from it, especially when it came to recycling. He only smiled at my innocence, and we did not talk about it again. True to my father’s words, though, he graduated and got absorbed by a massive construction company soon after. I bid farewell to my neighborhood friends a few months later and moved to New York City, where Dad’s company got a new house for us.
I have never managed to return to my old neighborhood since then. Life was exciting in NYC; there was so much to do and see. Still, I did not forget only to buy things that I knew I could recycle. I always felt good whenever I did that because:
I Am Doing Something Great For The Environment
Waste disposal is a cause of concern in many places, including the metropolitan I live in. Too many produce trash every day for the local garbage collectors to do something about them. Hence, it is up to the residents like me to initiate the recycling process and keep the garbage from getting stuck in landfills.
Whenever I buy egg cartons, for instance, the shell and the carton don’t go straight to my trash bin. Instead, I get some dirt, fill every hole in the carton, and plant herbs in it. I also clean the shells, crush them, and use them to decorate a canvas or the makeshift mini pots.
It is a small gesture, yes, but it makes me happy to know that I am doing something that will make Mother Nature proud of me.
I Tend To Spend Less Than Others
Since I did not come from old money, and my parents worked hard for everything we owned, I became frugal. That’s especially true during my adult years when I moved out of the house and lived independently. In reality, I only had a mattress, a study table, and a chair in the apartment in the first year – all my clothes and other belongings remained in boxes because I did not want to buy new furniture.
Then, one day, I saw a neighbor leaving an old couch and a wardrobe closet on the sidewalk. They nodded when I asked if I could take them, so all I had to do was reupholster the couch and repaint the cabinet. Not only did my neighbor have two less furniture to throw away, but I almost spent nothing to have a brand-new-looking couch and closet.
I Need Not Worry About Increasing My Carbon Footprint
I had been worried about the carbon footprint ever since my fifth-grade teacher talked about it in class. She said that every appliance or plastic we use increases our carbon footprint, so I went through a phase wherein I refused to turn on the light at night. I only did it when I tripped in the middle of the night, and my parents scolded me for it.
Because I already learned my lesson from that, I thought of recycling to reduce my carbon footprint. When my microwave oven broke down, for instance, I turned it into food storage. When I couldn’t use my kettle anymore, I turned it into a flower vase. My apartment looked eclectic due to that, but the odd additions merely added character to my place, so it was all good.
I believe that my recycling habit has contributed to my positive mental health. After all, I made sure that everything I owned would have a purpose even after their original usage has expired. I have a guilt-free conscience because I am not among those who continue to bully Mother Nature and complain about climate change. I am doing everything I can to ensure my carbon footprint does not go up for as long as possible.
Some people weirdly look at me whenever I claim to be a recycler, perhaps assuming that I am a hippie. Despite that, I think I have less to worry about between them and me since I make the most out of every dollar I spend.