I guess, if I were to be honest, I didn't come to realize the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling on my own.  I guess you could say that fate led me to it, sort of accidentally in a way.  

My first exposure to the importance of the 3 R's came from my mother.  Looking back  I now feel she was quite a revolutionary in this regard.   She was of the school of never-throw-anything-away-because-we-might-use- it-later.  To this day if she sees an aluminum container of any kind, she can’t resist keeping it and putting it away on her cupboard for a later use.  My job as a child was to set the table and I was instructed to always cut the napkins in half, you know, to save napkins.  It was a task that I always did begrudgingly, as it somehow made me feel we were poor, and besides how much difference could half a napkin make?. . . I thought. 

It was also customary in our household to be assigned our very own drinking glass to drink water from at all times.  The idea here was to save water by reducing the need to wash it all the time, since only one person was using it.  My mom would also recycle any piece of aluminum foil that somehow was used during her cooking.  She would make sure she would use it for at least one more thing before throwing it away.  She’s even been known to wash paper towels and hang them to dry!  Of course in her time she would have been called “cheap” , now she would be seen as quite the  innovative recyclist!  But as it usually happens, I did not take these things as positive influences growing up, but more as things to question and challenge.  I'd think that when I grew up I would not be so unnecesarily “cheap”,  and that I would make enough money to be able to use a whole napkin if I felt like it, or two or three even!!

In terms of my current practices regarding the environment, once again fate had a hand in it.  I happened to marry someone who is very passionate about the environment and energy conservation.  He installed solar panels in our home a few years back to supply electricity to the whole house, and has changed all the lights to more energy efficient ones.  He also has the habit of picking up every possible bottle, glass, can or recyclable piece of paper that has been thrown away or used by him anywhere and takes it home to recycle.  He also started a composting bin and he makes sure that every scrap of yard waste or anything that can be recycled, gets recycled.  As an adult, being more aware of the state of our environment, it is much more difficult to dismiss or ignore this as an influence.  I have had to learn to support him in his efforts, although admittedly not as enthusiastically at first, as he would have liked.  I have gradually come to appreciate what it means to him and what it means to the environment.  

And so, I've become the accidental recyclist, unwittingly, begrudgingly at first, with that defiance that mostly comes out of ignorance, lack of information and education.  But now I don't have the luxury of ignorance or lack of knowledge.  I know too much, not everything, but just enough to realize that it is also up to me now.  Especially as a designer, I'm aware of my responsibility in the disposing and using of materials, keeping always in mind ways to do more with less, and ways to re-purpose and find more uses for each thing before throwing it away.  It is time for me to continue finding ways to keep doing what others have started.  Just don't expect me to cut my napkins in half. . .at least just yet. . .