Saturday, January 5, 2008

7 year old blackberries

A lot of people ask me where I get my inspiration and enthusiasm for recycling. Recycling and reusing is something my family did, and still does. I was taught by my parents early on to compost food scraps and reuse glass jars as juice glasses. My parents recycled and reused so much that we didn't even subscribe to curbside garbage pick-up. About once a month my dad would load my brother, myself and about 1 bag of trash and drive a few miles to the local dump to pay $1 to dispose of the bag. This was before paper recycling was offered in my hometown of Mason, Michigan and my parents would burn our paper waste in our wood burning stove as kindling to get the fire going. It wasn't until childhood friends would start come over and want to throw stuff in the garbage that I realized this wasn't the norm - food scraps and plastic baggies didn't go in the trash, the food scraps went to the compost pile and plastic baggies got rinsed out.

I realize I'm starting to paint a picture of myself as a hippie, but that's not the case. I still had the modern conveniences of a typical American life - I watched way too much TV, ate piles of potato chips, and went shoe shopping for sneakers when my old ones got holes. It was simply the way my family handled our garbage that gave me the recycling background that has lead me to start this company called RePlayGround.

As a kid I was also heavily involved in 4-H where I learned skills like sewing, basketweaving, and painting. Then, as an adult, I moved to the exciting city of New York and started furnishing my apartment with cast-offs I found on the streets. The sidewalks were a treasure trove of recycled materials! This lead me back to art school at Pratt where I wanted to refine my design skills of turning trash into treasure for the masses. Here I worked on my thesis, called Trash Nouveau, where I further explored this idea and I've been a Design Junkie ever since.

Over the holidays I visited my family back in Michigan and we had a good old time. My dad still heats part of the house with a wood-burning stove and we still compost. Sitting around the dinner table the first night, my brother mentioned that my mom had recently made a 7 year-old blackberry pie. I thought he was joking until my mother started defending herself. Apparently my parents did their once-a-decade freezer clean-out where they came across 7 year-old blackberries. My mother, never wanting to throw anything away, decided to make them into a pie. My brother said the pie was ok, but with a slight freezer burn aftertaste. My mom said it wasn't so and was determined to have me decide for myself. She still had several more containers of 7 year-old blackberries so she made a pie for Christmas Eve dinner. The pie had become a big joke among my family so there was a lot of anticipation for our final dessert. Now I'm not saying that keeping berries around for 7 years is a great idea, but the pie was actually pretty good and way tastier than the preservative filled kind found at the local grocery store. Well, that grocery store pie probably has a 7-year shelf life anyway.

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