Photo Brittany Zendejaz

Brittany Zendejas, Los Angeles

Quilt Square #12

For as long as I can remember my family has kept a stash of plastic bags hidden in our dishwasher. For the longest time, I didn’t know that a dishwasher was for washing dishes. It is a sentiment that many can relate to, especially Mexican families. It is a collective consciousness that has been found during twitter threads and likes “How does your family recycle?” or “How have you contributed to the abundance of plastic in the world?” The replies were endless. But the ones that I felt most connected to were those saying they hardly ever threw out plastic bags and kept them hidden away somewhere. It was a revelation to learn that other families did this and had been doing this…long before the rise in plastic bans or concern of how much plastic is everywhere on our planet.  I asked my mother why she did this and her answer was simple, “Because my mom did this.” 

 As I’ve moved through university and into my own household, I have often found myself incorporating the same ideas as my mother and her mother before me. I recycle religiously. I’m the one who is taking bottles and plastic home from parties or gatherings. Growing up I didn’t realize that we stored our excess of plastic bags there because it was free space and my parents saw no use for an added expense like using a dishwasher. Although I know it is a small and maybe minuscule gesture, it gives me hope that our current climate will not be one that my niece and nephews will grow up in or have to say “Because my mom did this.”