Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: The 3 Rs – Jordan Style


Entity Green Training

Written By Kinzi

It became apparent to me that the ‘new’ green movement is not so new at all, but the old-normal for those our grandparents (or your great-grandparents) age. Today’s ‘green’ is really just yesterday’s ‘cheap’. From my Depression-era mother-in-law I learned to save butter wrappers to grease pans with and saw this same old trick touted as ‘new’ in a ladies magazine last month. This mother of ten also saved the rubber bands from the newspaper and envelopes from junk mail. Their family has separated trash for decades, turning in aluminum for cash, recycling paper and plastic, and composted food for the garden; for decades.

From my mother-of-nine landlord in Hashmi I learned some region-specific green-lifestyle tips: bargain hard at the end of a hot day with the Bandura truck-man for dirt-cheap tomatoes in summer to can your own tomato sauce. It was cheaper than growing your own after paying for water. Use the rinse water from vegetable-washing to wash the kitchen  floor at night (unless one had washed spinach, then it freshened the walkway to the house). If money was tight and the kids were begging for a treat, let them them share the ice cream cone.

Some of these tips listed below at The Huffington Post (via USA Today) are still day-to-day normal in Amman.

  • Hang it out to dry. Our modern dryers are electricity guzzlers, especially compared with our grandparents’ low-tech option: the clothesline. Reduce your electric bill and increase your green contribution by hanging your clothes out to dry in the sun.
  • Cloth, not paper. Most likely, your grandparents did not keep an economy-sized pack of Bounty towels in the garage. They relied on cloth napkins and dishrags for their cleanup needs. Follow their example by replacing your paper with cloth. You’ll majorly reduce your paper waste.
  • Secondhand. Your grandparents didn’t have any qualms about buying things secondhand. Why should you? Use garage sales, Craigslist, Freecycle and swap meets to find gently used items that need a new home. By shopping secondhand, you reduce the waste associated with the production, packaging and shipping of new products.
  • Victory gardens. Victory Gardens were incredibly popular during World War II, but even before that, people relied on their organic backyard gardens to supply fruits and veggies at a low cost. If you live in a small space, try joining a community garden or putting a few planters on your fire escape. Now that’s eating locally.
  • Canning. When you grow your own food, you’re less likely to let anything go to waste. Our grandparents dried or canned whatever produce they didn’t need and created a winter food stock. Many community centers offer classes in making preserves to help you learn this useful skill.
  • Sewing. Once upon a time, people sewed, rather than purchased, most of their wardrobe. Even if you’re not interested in making your own clothes, sewing is a valuable skill to have. If you can mend something, rather than replace it, you’ll save money and create less waste.
  • Cleaning. When it was time to clean, your grandparents didn’t have magic erasers or wet jets. They made their own cleaning products out of non-toxic household items such as baking soda and white vinegar. Combine two parts vinegar with three parts elbow grease, and you’ve got an effective cleaner that’s easy on the environment.
  • Reuse. Today’s society is obsessed with becoming clutter-free. Our grandparents would have thought  this was crazy. Why would you toss a perfectly good jar or button if you could find a way to use it again? Comb your junk drawers and look for creative ways to reuse your odds and ends before tossing them or buying more stuff.
  • Saving heat. Keeping your thermostat turned down in the winter will help you save on energy costs and help the Earth save on resources. Yes, 65 degrees may take a little getting used to, but ask yourself, “What would my grandma do?” She’d toughen up and go put on an extra sweater!

Give yourself a hand, Jordanians, you are ahead of the West as green leaders.

How did your teta do green?




  • leenadepaz

    My grandmother reused the food cans, she used it for dry pack canning of bulk dry foods such as wheat and beans, it was not used for wet pack canning or for packaging foods that with higher moisture or oil levels.She also reused the water plastic bottles to storage the olives and grape leaves (دوالي in Arabic) for couple of years .

  • kinzi

    Leena, good idea there! Wheat and beans being healthier, too. My landlord used them for windowsill planters for mint, herbs and things. Also, she got matching old tanekas from olive oil and used for stair-step planters of jasmine, kinda retro-cool.

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  • http://scratchesonthelifewall.blogspot.com/ Shaheen

    Thanks for the creative idea in our blog community, we should work more on that.
    will be back for more details.

  • Mohanned

    we recycle gov officials so why not other things :P

  • http://oeliwat.jeeran.com/ Ola

    Thanks for this Kinzi, excellent post really!

    Did you watch the movie Home? It's a great eye-opener, shockingly so, I think that watching movies like this could make people understand why the things you're talking about here are so important

    On a completely different note, to 7iber team, I suggest you shift the word “TAQREEBAN” to the end of the sentence in the Arabic translation. It works well for the English sentence but in the Arabic one at first glance I thought that the topics were almost new, not almost daily :D I know it's no big deal but I can't help it, I'm a translator!

  • kinzi

    Shaheen, it's you Urduniyiin who are the creative ones :), it's just a matter of remembering how life was not so long ago. Jordan hyper-spaced cultural time, skipping a generation or two. Take some time to sit with your older relatives and ask question, for the recycling of heritage as well as a better environment.

    Mohanned, you never fail to make me smile. What a thought!

    Ola. bi eye-ooonik. I have not seen 'Home', bas ashanik will put it on my to-see list!

  • Mohanned

    Kinzi,
    Don't take me seriously..I am just like the village idiot trying to keep people smiling..I am not responsible for the words that come out of my mouth….who am I?

  • Bob

    Jordanians would waist just as much as every other wealthy country if they had a choice, be it from personal finances or general products and services at large.

  • faridafarouk

    Thanks for posting this Kinzi, this is very informative and as I was reading through your list I realised that I already apply a bunch of those things you mentioned…..I usually carry an oversized bag which comes in handy when I am at a store buying just a few items, instead of getting a plastic bag I just put whatever I buy in my bag:-)

  • kinzi

    Bob, wastefulness is a negative human trait and this country is no less so in some ways. IMO Jordanians are more closely connected to agrarian roots and this seems to make their circle of life a little tighter than I experienced as an American. I have very wealthy friends who have farms and would not waste a leaf of produce out of respect for the land that produces it.

  • kinzi

    Farida, it is a bit innate here, isn't it? Validating things we do without thinking about it does encourage other steps toward a less consumption-oriented lifestyle. Thank you!

  • kinzi

    Bob, wastefulness is a negative human trait and this country is no less so in some ways. IMO Jordanians are more closely connected to agrarian roots and this seems to make their circle of life a little tighter than I experienced as an American. I have very wealthy friends who have farms and would not waste a leaf of produce out of respect for the land that produces it.

  • kinzi

    Farida, it is a bit innate here, isn't it? Validating things we do without thinking about it does encourage other steps toward a less consumption-oriented lifestyle. Thank you!