Green: Recycling life lessons and important values


Is it just me, or is everyone obsessed with being “green”? You know what I mean. Everyone recycles. Everyone uses chemical-free pesticides. Everyone eats tofu. Save our planet and all that.

Though I’m all in favor of saving the earth, I’m often the last one to jump on any wagon. Call it my stubborn nature or laziness or whatever you want. The truth is, I’m just forgetful.

I want to throw my soda cans in the special blue plastic box. But I forget and put them in the regular trash. By the time I remember, the can is beneath yesterday’s leftover peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and this morning’s coffee grounds. Sometimes, praying for forgiveness is easier than digging to the bottom of the trash bag. A whole lot cleaner, too.

So now you know the truth. I’m not always as “green” as I should be. The earth is going to pot, and it’s probably my fault.

I do recall a great recycling opportunity I had about a decade ago, though. My 13-year-old daughter’s camp had theme days. As in, dress up to fit the theme. One day the theme was Finding Your Place in the Past.

It just so happened I had a poodle skirt. Stop trying to figure out my age. I’m old, but I’m not that old. In 1980, when I was 13, I was in a musical set in the 1950’s.

I knew that skirt was in the attic somewhere, so I poked around up there, trying to find it. After opening nearly every box and hefting every overstuffed suitcase, I found it, along with my teal prom dress and a pink southern-belle Scarlett O’Hara creation that is comical now, but that made me feel like a princess back when I actually wore it.

I hauled the loot out of the attic, and my daughter tried on every item. Amazingly, they fit her. I forgot how skinny I was.

All this to tell you that, yes, I am a recycler. I recycled a poodle skirt from 1980, which was made from a recycled fashion from the 1950s. And the recycling didn’t stop there.

She needed a petticoat. I went to Goodwill in search of an old prom dress, so I could rip the petticoat out of it. (You didn’t think I’d actually rip the one from my own Scarlett O’Hara dress, did you?) But Goodwill didn’t have anything floofy enough. (Is floofy a word?)

Instead, I bought a little slip for $1.99. Then I went to Wal-Mart and spent another $1.68 on netting. And with a little snipping and sewing, she had herself a petticoat. A really, really floofy one. Now that, my friends, is what recycling is all about.

You can just call me the Green Machine.

As I worked on that petticoat, I recalled some other things that have been recycled through the years. Things that have been passed on to me from my parents, and their parents before them, and back and back to long before I can trace my family lineage. And I had to smile.

I was blessed to have parents who taught me good things like honesty and integrity and the value of hard work. Things like kindness and generosity and compassion. Things like faith in a God who loves me more than life itself.

Some may think those values are old, recycled ideals from yesteryear. But I’ve learned that the value of such lessons never decreases. Each time they are passed on to another generation, they become new again, like a breath of fresh air. And isn’t that what recycling is all about? Bringing the value of something old, and creating something new and fresh?

I’m grateful to have had lessons of love and faith passed onto me. And I pray my children will carry those lessons with them, too.

Deuteronomy 4:9 “Be very careful. Don’t forget the things your eyes have seen. As long as you live, don’t let them slip from your mind. Teach them to your children and their children after them.”

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com