REDUCE, reuse and recycle are the triple keywords of waste management.
The three Rs aim to help people handle the “by-product” of consumer goods used at home, in businesses and public places.
My aunt, Tita Blitte, is using the three Rs in her home management. She is rather good at it. For years now, she has managed the budget we give her to run the house in clockwork smoothness.
“Ay, these days, Obz, we have to reduce, reuse and recycle what we have,” she said one morning.
Hers is a story that could be familiar to most readers. For example, she places used tin cans in one old rice sack.
Manoy Joel, who lives a few blocks from our house, regularly picks up her modest stash of “trash for cash.” Joel has a thriving junk shop business where people can sell their used goods or buy second-hand stuff from him.
My aunt takes the three Rs to the next level. Whenever she parboils root vegetables to reduce the cooking time when preparing meals, she reuses the boiling water to make the base soup or sauce or gravy. “It lends a richer taste,” she said.
She does not merely reheat leftovers. She turns them into something new. She calls it recycling. I like the way she recently recycled leftover ginaling. (Ginaling refers to ground meat, be it pork, beef or chicken. In Cebu, there is a dish simply called “ginaling” or ground pork sauteed with minced onion and garlic, and mixed with minced carrots, potatoes and chayote.)
She made a vegetable dish using pechay or bok choy mixed with the ginaling. She first recooked the ginaling by sauteing minced garlic and onion before adding the meat.
At another time, she made meat patties using leftover ginaling. Her recipe is simple: mix leftover ginaling, grated carrot, minced potato, one whole egg and cornstarch to bind. Form the ginaling into patties and deep-fry.
She reduces the cost of cooking by sometimes skipping what Cebuanos call subak. The word refers to fish or meat (sliced into small pieces) used to add flavor to food.
“The loss of flavor and body can be compensated by using green onions, tomatoes, finger chilies, ginger and leafy aromatics.”
When she makes utan Bisaya, she tosses sliced tomatoes and green onions into a pot of boiling water. Into this aromatic base, she tosses whatever fresh vegetables are available in the village market that day.
My aunt only uses table salt to make the soup tasty. Sometimes, she uses lemon grass or three pices of fresh oregano leaves to give the soup a distinctive aroma.
This venerable little old lady even uses rice washings to add to the water she uses to refresh her plants. She has a garden using old pails, basins and used plastic bottles to grow green onions, okra, tomatoes, oregano, basil and a host of other herbs and ornamentals.
Simplicity is attained when the three Rs are in place and used in everyday life. Waste management is good but food management is better.