The City of Hattiesburg just reached the end of the first year of a 3-year contract with a private company for curbside recycling. Revised from a previous attempt, the current system was started by a group of future leaders as their project.
The project, “Kick It to the Curb,” led to public hearings followed by City Council action to again try recycling. The previous attempt included placing recycling receptacles in certain wards of the city as a trial, one that wasn’t continued.
This time the Council agreed to contract with Waste Pro to establish a citywide system. Waste Pro provided blue bins to every household along with instructions of what to put in the bin and when to put the bin out on the curb.
I’ve participated from the beginning, happy to contribute newspapers, magazines and catalogs as I finish with them, plus empty cardboard and paper boxes and cartons and recyclable plastic. Waste Pro resells the collected materials to companies that sort and sell them for use as raw materials.
Recycling certainly isn’t new, but as it’s done these days, it is the way to stop wasting reusable resources. When I was growing up, the current type of recycling didn’t exist, but in the era before the advent of the throwaway society, folks used resources more conservatively.
During WWII when I was small, no one threw away much of anything, but re-used it as long as possible. In our particular family, the main item that was recycled was clothes. As the fourth member and third girl in a family that would eventually number five, I was the model for re-used clothes!
It wasn’t just a matter of hand-me-down dresses — no. In our family it was a life-long system of “find a new use” for whatever it was. When I was in junior high school, for instance, I had an expensive looking car-coat Mom made from a very nice full-length, wool coat she wore in the ‘40s. I have a photo of her and Dad, he in topcoat and fedora, Mom in the coat, which had a big fur collar at that time.
That was how we got our clothes: Mom made almost everything we wore – from when I was a toddler to my college years when she made a lovely red satin short dance dress for the Valentine’s Ball when I was a freshman. And speaking of reuse, my daughter wore that dress – with a red plaid sash added – to one of her high school dances!
If my older sister had a new dress Mom made, the next year I had it, maybe remade, maybe not. If Mom made her a formal for a dance, the next school year, I wore it for orchestra concerts.
Perhaps the ultimate in reuse as far as clothes went were the old-fashioned rummage sales. Of course rummage and garage sales still go on with customers buying used clothes, but when I was very young, the clothes that got to the church rummage sale probably weren’t going to ever be worn again. So why did Mom buy them?
Mom bought the old wool suits and coats at rummage sales to either remake them into something for us to wear or to take apart for wool scraps. These she saved and gave to our Great-Grandmother, who cut the pieces into strips to braid into long coils for braided rugs. The rugs on our wood floors in the late ‘40s and into the ‘50s were ones braided into coils by Great-Grandma and sewn together by others.
The clothes on our backs, the rugs on the floors, the quilts on the beds – all recycled from pre-used garments. Recycling? It was a way of life for us.