Not Ready For the Trash Heap

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It was a vintage Melmac plate developed in the 40's to 60s.

It was round with decorative circles of brown and orange on the outer rim, white in the center.

The plate was part of a dinnerware set my husband and I purchased in the early 60's.

There were brown cups, saucers, and cereal bowls, too. And, of course, dinner plates.

The dishes were durable, unbreakable and perfect for our two young children, who were accident prone at the dinner table.

But one day the unthinkable happened. My mother-in-law inadvertently placed one of the plates on the pilot light of our gas range while we were clearing the table.

When I realized what she had done, I grabbed the plate and put it in the sink with the other dishes.

But it was too late. The plate had a permanent scorched spot in the center of the plate. It hadn't burned completely through the melamine plastic but the brownish burned area could not be washed away; it was there forever.

The plate probably should have been tossed in the trash, but I kept it.

One day, out of the blue, I found a place for it.

I ceremoniously placed the plate in front of one of my children, announcing that from that day forth, the plate would be called "the special plate."

It would be reserved for the child who deserved it most on any particular day..

Soon, the children were vying for the honor of being awarded "the special plate."

I especially used the plate to lift the spirit of the child who was experiencing a disappointment. Or for the child who had an accomplishment. Or who had made an A in spelling or earned a Cub Scout badge.

That continued for a number of years, until the dishes were no longer in use in our household.

The only dishes that remain from the original set are a couple of brown cereal bowls and saucers, and the lone "special plate."

(One of the cereal bowls has been recycled as a dog bowl).

This week my mind went back to the special plate and its meaning.

Actually, I had recycled the plate and given it new purpose, those many years ago.

There are many items that really don't belong in the trash heap. They can be recycled for reuse.

Some of those items are aluminum cans and glass bottles.

There are jars, such as jelly jars, wine bottles, Coke, Pepsi and Sprite bottles,

There are also steel cans such as soup cans, coffee cans and veggie cans.

There are recyclable old electronics such as laptops and tablets and Smart phones.

And, of course, there is junk mail and newspapers and magazines and VHS tapes.

Car batteries and tires can be recycled.

Discarded clothing can be donated to the Salvation Army or to churches or recycling centers. Or other drop off points.

Kids toys have new life when donated to thrift shops or Mission Houses.

Dishes and workable appliances can be donated also.

An old shower curtain makes a good drop cloth when painting.

Old BBQ grills and scrap metal can be recycled, too.

And many other such items.

Many throw-a-ways can be given new life.

Just like "the special plate."