Loving planet a little more: use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

600 recycled cans collected by my parents in 2010 over 2 weeks period during their 3am morning walk
Today Facebook reminded me of a memory I shared on Facebook 6 years ago (May 28, 2010). 

6 years ago, I posted a picture of 600 recycled cans collected by my parents during their 3am morning walk over a 2-week period. Memory of my mom rushed in again after the reminder. So I decided to share this memory again today on Facebook and here to remember my mom and also to talk a bit about how my mom has done her part on 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

What is Reduce,  Reuse, Recycle?

We are all familiar with the famous 3 Rs of the environmental friendliness: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But how many of us are doing it on regular basis?

Malaysia government has been trying their best to raise awareness of the need to recycle.  But the result so far is rather disappointing. For example, only 12.8% of the solid waste was recycled in Malaysia whereby 59% ( four times more) of the solid waste was recycled in Singapore. And from my travel to Taiwan, I believe Taiwan's recycling rate is also very high.

For us, there is still a long way to go. Is it government's responsibility? I think not. It starts from each and everyone of us to do our little part to make the earth a more beautiful and sustainable place to live.

In memory of my mom, I would like to share how my mom has done her part to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Recycled Cans 
My parents and I don't have soft drinks in aluminium cans at home. We have 100 Plus in the big plastic bottle though.

My dad and mom used to do their morning walk in the neighborhood as early as 3 am in the morning. Yes, 3 am when most of us are having deep sleep and sweet dreams. Their sleeping hours are rather odd compared to most of us. 

Anyway, during their morning walk, my mom likes to go through the dustbins and the road side along the shop houses to spot any soft drink cans thrown on the floor or inside the dust bins. She would then collect them back home. Once it reached 600 cans, my dad would then call up one of the guys doing recycling business to come and pick it up with a very minimal token paid to them.

This has been ongoing for few years until my dad is getting too old and he couldn't do his morning walk as much as he would like. But my mom marched on, doing her own morning walk alone and continuing to collect the cans. It got too dangerous until I had to stop her from doing that. 

Recycled Paper / Newspaper

My mom would use the newspaper to wrap the weekly vegetables that we bought from the morning market before keeping in the fridge. She said this way, the vegetables will stay fresh longer and not spoil easily.

As for my dad, if he sees any letters / magazines that we have received in the mail which are A4 size. He would then cut them up, flip it the other way around, then re-glue back to make it into smaller envelopes. I have been using this type of re-used envelopes since many years ago.

And for the newspaper that we read, dad will call up the guy doing recycling business to pick it up along with the recycled cans on monthly basis.

Reused clothes 

The yellow pants my mom wore more than 30 years ago. She still wore it until the time she was called home to be with the Lord in Dec 2015.

My mom is an excellent sewer. She makes her own clothes. She also makes my office shirts and my dad's pants and shirts. 

I remember I used to bring her to Kamdar to buy fabric so that she can make clothes for herself and for us. 

Having said that, she is a person of practicality. 

You see - she would alter any unwanted clothes, dresses or pants of my sister's into her own. Her body size is smaller. And she didn't want to waste. Therefore, she decided to alter and reuse.

From the photo, you can see the yellow pants that she wore. Until she was called home to be with the Lord, she was still wearing it. I remember one time she told be that she is as slim as 20-30 years ago... that's why she could still wear it today.

If not spoiled or broken, why throw if can still use or re-use?

My mom's motto, "If not spoiled or broken, why throw if can still use or re-use?

She hardly spends money. She is very thrifty. I love my mom for who she is. 

They always discourage me from buying new things. If anything that can still be used, she would. She would collect many plastic containers too, then reused for keeping food, biscuits, detergents, etc.

Of course, there are still many many little things that my parents do that demonstrate their contribution to make the world a better place to stay. 

Influence from my mom and dad to be more environmentally friendly

I confess that I'm not as environmentally friendly as my parents. But under their influence, I have begun to be more conscious about it and do my little part to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Recently, we did some house cleaning, clearing unwanted things as my mom likes to keep things. Ha! Ha!

And I drove to a nearby recycle collection centre to do my part on recycling.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. 

My mom has been living a life of "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without". And she didn't realise it.  She has been contributing very little waste to the planet.

I would want my mom's spirit to live in me. I know it's a tough act follow. It's especially tough on my running vests and running shoes. 

Running Vests
Many times over, I don't wear all the running vests given to participants in races. I usually end of wearing only selected running vests that I like in terms of cutting, design and color. As for the rest, I would only occasionally wear them at home. 

Good that I don't buy more. But I still end up buying new running vests, especially during sale. Sigh!!

 I have given few to my nephew. I shall give out more and control myself from buying more.. :)

Running Shoes
As for running shoes, mine is considered to be having very few. I know of friends who have 30 pairs of running shoes. 

As for me, I will buy 1 pair every 1.5 year or so, after clocking in more than 500 km on the shoes. It's for injury prevention purpose. But then I still continue to wear the old shoes to gym, to work, to train on short distance run in the park.

And I shall continue to remember my mom's teachings to do my little part on being kinder to the planet.

Written on 2016.05.28

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The quest to run and be fit at any age: www.runfitquest.com. The quest to travel and wander beyond borders: borderlessquest.com. The quest to live a meaningful, purpose driven life: vincentkhor.com


  1. Vincent, your mom n my mom loved collecting things at home. Recently, i did some house cleaning n donate to the needy.

    1. haha! I guess all moms are alike... never want to waste things. :) Glad to know you have donated to the needy. Awesome!