I helped a friend move a couple of years ago. This friend was what I like to call a “global citizen”: her mother was Colombian; her father was from the USA; she was born in Peru; grew up in Mexico; has lived in Pakistan, France, Italy, and the USA (to name a few); and speaks Spanish, English, French, Italian, and Portuguese. So it’s always interesting to hang out with her and listen to her stories and experiences.
As we were packing up her kitchen, I opened a cupboard and discovered a bunch of containers. Margarine containers, cottage cheese containers, yogurt containers…
I started laughing and asked “what the hell is this?”
Her response? “missy, that is Mexican tupperware!”
Let’s acknowledge the fact that I laughed so hard I almost peed in my pants. That was funny. I probably would have thought it was offensive as hell coming from anybody else, but the woman DID grow up in Mexico, so if anybody had a right to make ethnic jokes like that it was this woman.
Then I had a realization.
Well, a couple of them, actually.
We muricans pay for storage containers at the store while throwing away all of the perfectly good storage containers we pay for every time we buy margarine, cottage cheese, sandwich meats, yogurt, and etc.
I also realized that both of my grandmothers (as well as my mom, my aunts, and everybody else) had cabinets full of margarine containers, cottage cheese containers, and so on.
After that day, I began compulsively saving all of the containers that my yogurt came in. I saved yogurt containers until there was no room in my cabinets for things like mixing bowls and baking pans and small appliances that I never (ever) use.
I have since quit hoarding yogurt containers and cleaned out the stash.
I haven’t forgotten the message I got that day.
I’ve quit paying for Rubbermaid and Tupperware and all of those other storage containers that people pay for in stores; I’ve started using all of those containers that I was already paying for when I bought yogurt, sandwich meat, and cream cheese.
Are my Mexican Redneck tupperwares as uniform in appearance as those bought in a store? Of course not. And that, my friends, is part of their appeal. It’s just so much more fun to store a small bit of leftover something in a container that says “Nutter Butter” on it, with all those bright happy colors.
And to think that there are whole aisles and departments in stores dedicated to selling us boring, uniform containers when we just finished paying for bright happy containers in the grocery section.