My Mom was upcycling before it was a big deal . . . before it was even called upcycling.
On top of that, my Mom has always had a deep love and sense of responsibility for the earth. It's a love she and my Dad share. My parents see the earth as God's masterful gift that he entrusted to us. Nature has always been a place where they meet God and feel renewed. Most of my childhood vacations and day trips were spent exploring the land, hiking, canoeing, skating or cross country skiing.
Wherever we lived, my Mom usually found a way to have a vegetable garden, and she took great joy (and still does) in caring for it and harvesting its yields. She canned and froze what she grew, and my family ate her harvest late into the winter. What she couldn't grow herself, she picked at local farms to preserve for the rest of the year. I always loved how my Mom's cold storage looked, with its neat rows of colourful jars and baskets of potatoes and apples.
She taught my brothers and I to be grateful for what we had and regularly reminded us not to waste. And she lived what she spoke. Before recycling was commonplace, my Mom tried to recycle in her own way by turning waste into something useful. In our house, bleach bottles were turned into trash cans, tin cans became containers or baking pans, bottles were reused as jars for her homemade jam, and paperboard from packaging was reused for recipe cards and crafts. We always had a kitchen drawer overflowing with every variety of plastic bag so they could be reused. (It made me very cranky to wash all those bags, but my Mom persisted.) She worked hard to make food go as far as possible. (The More with Less Cookbook by Doris Longacre was her culinary bible.)
Little did I know that all my Mom's choices would leave such a mark on me.
myself, "Why is this so important to me? Why do I feel such a need to do this?" And I began to realize, it's mostly because of my Mom and her bleach bottle trash cans, vegetable gardens and frequent reminders to be grateful and responsible for what we have.
Now, my Mom helps me at art and craft shows, and she's one of my best "garbage collectors". She always asks me, "Where do you get all these ideas?" I usually say, "I don't know." But really, it pretty much started with her.
Jane Hogeterp Koopman
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