31 March, 2008



For someone at home, that’s the latest mantra.

Who else, but Mr.Exasperation.

This saga of recycling began with what had been their topic at school “A Clean World”. This topic at school was cut short rather abruptly because schools closed early for the Easter break. So the books were sent home so that the kids could finish working on their books.

While working on his book on “A Clean World”, Mommy used to be regularly peppered with questions. “What is recycling ?” “Why should you recycle ?” “What is a landfill ?” “What happens when you recycle ?” “Are there recycle bins in Laguna City ?” and so on and so forth.

Recycling was very very obviously going to be the flavor of discussion for a while. To top this, when we were watching the evening news the other day, there was a segment on how the landfills in HK are going to fill up in about 4 to 8 years time. “What means landfills are going to fill up ?” queried Abhay. And his eyes almost popped out of his head when he was told that “a landfill being full” meant that there was not going to be any place to dump all the rubbish that gets generated everyday. “Oh No. What are we going to do now ?” queried Abhay, looking distinctly uneasy. I guess he was conjuring up all kinds images inside of that head of his, which was clearly working overtime.

To top that, in the same news segment, he caught a clipping of how the streets in Naples, Italy were lined with trash bags on both sides of the road because they had nowhere to dump the rubbish and the looks of dismay and disgust on the faces of the passersby. Again the questions began – “Why are the rubbish bags on the road ?” “Why there are no sanitation workers to take the rubbish away ?” Yeah – he actually calls them sanitation workers !!! He looked rather disturbed when Mommy told him that the rubbish was piling up on the roads because the landfills were full. “I’m worrying.” came the reply.

Knowing him, he could well have been imagining trudging among big, huge bags of rubbish while walking outside or even while walking to school, holding his nose tight shut or something like that and that must have led him to wonder as to how he was going to breathe ..... his imagination just gallops.

So now all that’s stuck in his head is “R.e.c.y.c.l.e.”. Period !!!

On Saturday evening, as we headed out to Kowloon Bay to meet up with Vic, Abhay gathered up a whole load of newspapers because he wanted to put them in the recycle bin. Mommy tried telling him that he could leave it near the garbage bin on our floor and that the lady who collects trash would make sure it ends up in the recycle bin but he would have none of it. He made sure each and every newspaper that we’d carried made its way right into the recycle bin. And enjoyed every moment of it. If not anything else, this guy would well enjoy working for the Postal Department !!!

A couple of days back he was heard exclaiming “I found it” “I found it” very excitedly and I wondered what it was all about. Sure enough, a few seconds later he was found walking out of the kitchen with an empty can of Diet Pepsi that had found its way into the rubbish bin in the kitchen. “You should not put cans in the rubbish bin Mummy. They should be put in the recycle bin to be r.e.c.y.c.l.e.d.” The fact that Mommy had absolutely nothing to do with that can finding its way into the rubbish bin was not even taken into account.

Yesterday evening we were working on a project that Aparna had to take back to school today. While we tried to avoid wastage of paper, little tiny bits and strips did eventually find their way onto the floor. Since Abhay had not been working on the project with us, he conveniently deemed the whole floor “very messy”. He obliged, however, when Mommy asked him to pick up the bits of paper and throw them in the rubbish bin.
Just as he was about to head off with the wads of paper, Aparna was heard saying “ahem.... should that not be recycled ?”. So that too has been set aside and will be duly deposited in the recycle bin the next time we go downstairs.

Now near the rubbish bin in the kitchen, we also have another small box. All the little scraps of paper that need to be discarded go into that box. The same goes for empty soap bottles, shampoo bottles – there is a paper bag which has been set aside as a receptacle for these items and yet another paper bag which has been set aside for cans. And heading for the recycle bin downstairs, in all probability, is going to become a regular feature.

"Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run your TV for three hours." ~ Reynolds Metal Company

Kids being kids, I honestly don’t know how long this fascination with recycling is going to last. But over a period of time, sorting out the trash and setting things aside to be put into the respective recycling bins would become more of a habit. And once a habit is formed, it is something that one would do naturally. And that is a pretty good pattern to form – not just for the kids but for us, adults too.

This would also be a good tack to use on Abhay to discontinue the use of nighttime diapers. Oh Yes !! He still needs diapers at night. When confronted by the fact that he still uses diapers, Mr. Exasperation is rather quick to point out "But I put a diaper only a night. Only Only Only at night." We'd been waiting for proper summer to begin "Operation Night Diapers Over". Now that this recycling bug has taken over, might as well capitalise on it and get it into his head that diapers are not recyclable.

As of now too, carrying a shoulder tote bag while going to the supermarket has become second nature to me. In fact, one environment friendly bag is always found in by handbag. We also recycle and reuse the glass jam bottles at home as storage containers for other masala powders and stuff.

Shoe boxes are very good for storing things – e.g we use a shoe box as a tool box, another shoe box is used for multiplugs and such stuff .....
Another thing we’ve done in a rather phased manner is switch to energy efficient bulbs – these do cost more but end of the day they consume almost 80% less power than do the regular bulbs.

We are also consciously reducing stocking up on stuff - something I used to do on a almost habitual basis. It was quite a chronic habit – one that I am trying my level best to curb. There’s however, still a long way to go.

I recently read a small write-up by Catherine Pulsifer which goes

“Most of us are familiar with recycle and reusing, but how often do we think of the third R - REDUCE?

"Reduce" is probably the most important of the three Rs because, if we reduced, it would limit the need to recycle and reuse. By reducing, we cut down on the resources that we use which results in less garbage being produced.”

So often, our wants result in impulse buying. It is amazing if you ask yourself the question, is it a need or a want before you actually buy. Many things end up being a want, not truly a need.

Reduce, or rather, the need to reduce takes us back to the basic question :
"Is it a need or a want ?"

post signature

7 voice(s) said so:

Suki said...

Reminds me of me at that age, but well.. I never carried it to THAT extent!
Yay Abhay :). And great timing too, in the run-up to Earth Day.

mummyjaan said...

It's wonderful that your children are getting familiar with these concepts so early. I think these things (reduce/reuse/recycle) should be introduced in schools early on because they have a powerful impact. My guess is this will not be a passing phase; Aparna and Abhay will probably remember these 'lessons' for a long time. At least I hope so :)!

Kodi's Mom said...

we need more kids like Abhay who are obsessed enough abt the planet to do something dramatic. so nice to read this post.

DotMom said...

second Kodi's mom. We really need more kids like him!

DotMom said...

ooh forgot the three R's of being Environmentally Friends - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Swati said...

Beautiful post..if we are 10 % inspired by Abhay ..it will make a difference.

Manjari Rai said...

Wooow...what an interesting insight! Mr. Exasperation is on the right track :)