Reusing materials – Mexican style


I remember very well when I came to Mexico for the first time. It was about eight years ago and my man and I were invited to a comida, an afternoon meal. As a Mexico-newbie I had no idea what to expect, so I was quite nervous. Besides it was the first time that I was going to meet a couple of his family members.

We were greeted by many abrazos (hugs) and sweet words, and of course the smell of Mexican food that was waiting for us. I immediately felt comfortable, but hey – who wouldn’t in a Mexican family? Hardly ever did I meet such lovely and heartwarming people.

After some chit-chat over the dining table it was time to eat. Meanwhile when nobody was watching me, I looked around. The kitchen

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was filled with all kinds of plastic boxes from different food and non-food products. They came in many sizes and were stalled on one side of the kitchen. Empty, they were patiently waiting there to be filled with food.

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On the table were some pans and a couple of such plastic boxes, all of them still closed. An aunt asked me to hand the green salsa, but I didn’t see any! When she saw the worried look on my face, she started laughing. ‘Look for the tupper that says alpura!’, she said. And there it was. In what once had been a yogurt packaging, was a green salsa.

You can imagine that this can get very confusing, and the logic behind this reusing strategy can often only be understood by those who put the new fill into the packaging. I was, and still am, fascinated by this. You’ll find it in almost every household, including in mine. Yes, I reuse Mexican style too now!

I reuse almost all packaging of products that I buy in the supermarket. My favourites are definitely the glass ones, because they look pretty in the kitchen. As a woman from the Netherlands, I was used to separate all my rubbish and eventually throw it away in the correct trash can. I would bring any glass or plastic bottles back to the supermarket to obtain the ‘statiegeld’ – the return of some money that you’ve already paid for the product.

Is it yoghurt? No... it's flour!
Is it yoghurt? No… it’s flour! (1)

That actually caused a funny situation when my man first came to the Netherlands. I was doing the dishes while I heard the noise of plastic being squeezed. I turned around and he smiled, while his foot got off of the deformed bottle. ‘What are you doing!’, I said, ‘We can get money for that!’ Until today we laugh about that happening. As much as possible he turned it into a bottle again, and we got the money the next day.

Since this kind of service isn’t (yet) available in Mexico (as far as I know), people reuse in their own way, for example by reusing packaging. Some organisations pay you a small amount of money when you give them plastic rubbish. If you are very patient, this can be lucrative. I’ve heard about a woman who collected plastic year after year, and eventually got to build her own house from the money she owned. Isn’t that amazing? Because you’ll find a lot of plastic on Mexico’s streets, I do see how this is possible.

How do you reuse in your household?

Love this
Love this (2)
Small part of my collection at home
Small part of my collection at home (3)




© 2020 by Debbie – AHORITA YA. All Rights Reserved.
Photos 1, 2 and 3 © 2020 by Debbie – AHORITA YA. All Rights Reserved.


8 thoughts on “Reusing materials – Mexican style

  1. I repurpose all the plastic yogurt and cream containers as cheap tupperware! During the holiday, we hosted a couple of large dinners and everybody got to take some lefovers home (another quaint mexican custom) in yogurt and cream containers. They’re very practical, since people don’t have to worry about giving the containers back. Only in Mexico! 🙂 lol


  2. Where I live in the US we recycle into bins, but we don’t get paid for it . Maybe the ones who collect huge amounts before surrendering it, but most householders don’t have room to keep tons of glass and metal that long.


    1. It’s good to hear that you collect, even though you don’t get paid for it. If we could all contribute to such initiatives, the world would at least be a cleaner place. Thanks for your reaction! Saludos, Debbie


  3. Haha, wat cool! Dat hebben ze hier nog niet eens ontdekt. Ik zie hier wel veel planten in afgeknipte lege flessen, die worden aan de muur gehangen. Maar verder wordt al het vuilnis bij elkaar gemikt. Ikzelf gebruik alleen de lege glazen potten en flessen en een aantal yoghurt bakjes voor DIY spullen. Het is wel een goed idee eigenlijk!


  4. We call it “Dutch Tupperware” and when it’s in the refrigerator and it’s not labeled, the whole situation is called the “Black Hole Refrigerator Mystery” b/c it’s anybody’s guess what’s in there! Too bad more packaging isn’t see thru with a removable label.


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