I remember a time long ago when “going green” was not yet the “in” thing but just “the right thing to do”.
We would wait patiently by the side of the road in front of our house for a faint cry: Dyaryoooo! Boteeee! (newspaaaaaaper, booooottles) And when we hear it, we would rush to our house, get all the old newspapers, put them in a stack, get our hands on old glass and plastic bottles – of fish sauce, vinegar, shampoo, softdrinks – and wait for a vision of an old scruffy man pushing a kariton (pushcart). He would waive to us and soon as he is “parked”, we would help him haul the newspapers to his weighing scale. He would then count the bottles, do some math in his head, give us some money (a few cents, some paper) and he would go his merry way. We would waive to mom (asking her for permission but vaguely so she could not say no) and go our merry way too – to the store where we would buy candies and ice-cold soda with the bounty. Such was the life.
All Saints Day is another time when we “go green”. My cousins and I would get the dripping wax from candles on top of graves (several graves) and get the wax – of different colors – to form a ball. The bigger, the heavier, the better and we sell them to old ladies with missing teeth sitting by the sidewalk. I think at one point I almost got a dollar for all that trouble (which was not trouble, really).
I did not only “go green” but I also made money.
Are the kids of today getting fun “go green” lessons?
Because nowadays, it is the simple things – throw the trash in the trash can, turn off the faucet when brushing the teeth, turn off the lights or unplug every appliance when they are not in use, use scratch papers for drawing or printing drafts, use eco bags at the grocery store.
To the more complicated – planting a tree, growing your own vegetable garden, swimming in some river to take trash out of it, participating in a marathon for Mother Earth, or reducing carbon footprints (not exactly sure what this means).
Well, some time ago, I did try to give my daughter the lesson.
It was before I returned to law school. I turned slightly Amish and we embarked on a journey – of baking our own bread and stripping the unnatural from our bread diet (going back to basics): her little fingers mixing the ingredients, kneading with mine, air going into the dough but not too much, damp cloth over the rising bread, and the smell of baked goodness filling the house. We moved on to bake cookies, muffins, bread pudding, cobbler and cakes (we were on a roll!) but when law books were thrust into my hands, I had no choice but to dust the flour off my fingers, and hers (sigh).
I was reminded of these efforts during one PTA meeting. My daughter’s teacher wanted us to do something.
Composting in pots
1. Gather fruit peel and dried twigs and leaves. Cut them into smaller pieces.
2. Put some soil into the clay pot.
3. Place some dried leaves on top of the soil.
4. Put some more soil on top of the dried leaves.
5. Place some cut fruit peel on top of the soil.
6. Add soil on top of the rotten fruit peel.
7. Continue adding the following in this order: soil – dried leaves – soil – rotten fruit peel.
8. Let stand for one to two weeks. Then one can plant directly in the pot.
The teacher said that when flowers or fruit trees were planted in these compost pots, the leaves and flowers are more colorful, shinier and healthier because of the rich soil. And that the lady who taught her how to do this has a garden filled with the most beautiful and fragrant flowers. All at once, I saw in my mind my pocket garden brimming and pulsating, healthy and vibrant.
I was all fired up.
But the school was way ahead of me. My baby and her classmates weave their own bags, knit their doll dresses, plant their own rice, sing to mother nature and construct their own nipa hut.
As I am hearing this from my daughter, I try not to look very impressed, or alarmed (but I am).
Because I cannot help but think – the challenges to the generations are mounting, getting a little harder. And nature – she seems a little harsher, a little less forgiving now.
But I still think (and hope) that the future can still be saved.
We – all of us – just need to keep at it.
We have no choice.
Article by Issa. Art by D. Copyright 2009.
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