How many times have you been disappointed to find sofrito in that I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!plastic container instead of the yellow spread it’s supposed to keep? Yeah, us too. Well, the bad news is you are out of butter, but the good news is your mom has been eco-friendly way before it was trendy.
Still not convinced, ay?
Well, do you have a stash of plastic bags from grocery stores and bodegas in the cupboard that are to be reused later? Or did your abuela just re-wash those plastic plates porque todavía sirven? Every time you leave a room does a nagging feeling to turn the light off arise thanks to your abuela’s incessant training? Were you prohibited from throwing your clothes away because they were either going to be sent to your parents’ native country or serve as a hand-me-down? And, ratty old towels were cut up and turned into dust rags at home, right? Yup. You were “green” before you could even walk.
Now, while some of these habits may have stemmed from necessity and being frugal, don’t discount the fact that Latinos do care about sustainability and doing their part to be “green,” according to Cultural Strategies, a marketing and communications firm that offers insights on a multicultural America.
“With necessity comes ingenuity. We see it in its simplest form by recycling plastic bags and foil paper, by washing and reusing them, or by repurposing old aluminum cans or glass jars for tools and containers and even art projects. While some Latinos, especially older generations, may not consider themselves environmentalists, many of them have been doing their part through culture and traditions,” says Cultural Strategies vice president of engagement Mando Rayo.
We’ve inadvertently tapped into sustainability efforts by being resourceful, but this still counts! And, there’s no shame in keeping these traditions alive and passing them down – even if you can actually buy dust cloths now.
So thank your familia, pat yourself on the back, and be sure to pick up your imaginary, free Earth Day T-shirt at the door.