Countdown To Earth Day: Macramé And Harvest Gold – A 1970s Tale of Reducing And Reusing

Countdown To Earth Day: Macramé And Harvest Gold – A 1970s Tale of Reducing And Reusing

  • The Kane County Board Energy And Environmental Committee, Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources and Kane County Connects are teaming up for a “Count Down to Earth Day” series celebrating the success stories and spotlighting the environmental challenges we face right here, right now in Kane County, IL. Today’s essay is written by Kane County Division of Environmental And Water Resources Director Jodie Wollnik.

It’s as familiar to me as an old friend — woven wicker with a few stray pieces sticking out here and there like grandma’s hair after a midday nap, a wooden half-circle lid on each end with a macramé bead for a latch worn from kids opening and closing, hoping to snatch the last dessert.

Jodie Wollnik

Inside, brown elastic is sewn along the side, creating loops for the silverware that stand at attention like tiny soldiers waiting to be called into action. Cloth napkins folded with care sit atop the pièce de résistance: sunflower yellow, burnt orange and sherwood green divided plates.

In the mind of an 8-year-old, divided plates were clearly the invention of a true genius that had figured out a way to stop baked beans from running into the potato salad (which knowing my grandma, had mayonnaise in it that expired two years before I was born).

The setting was random: the back yard, a shady spot in the park, a pull-off on a scenic drive.

Once determined, out would come THE BLANKET. You know the one I’m talking about: It’s survived decades of shrapnel from Fourth of July firework mishaps; it’s been a makeshift floor in your snow fort; it’s been used under furniture tied down precariously to the roof of the 1973 Nova as it careened down the highway at 70 mph; and you are positive it’s made of Brillo pads and fiberglass insulation sewed together that some charlatan tricked your parents into buying.

But the experience just wouldn’t be the same without THE BLANKET.

After the food is gobbled down, the thermos of lemonade empty, plates and containers repacked, blanket re-folded and kids corralled from tossing the remnants of their sandwiches to the ducks (despite the signs that read “Don’t Feed the Ducks”), we’d grab the picnic basket and off we would go, leaving nothing behind but a small square of grass pressed down where THE BLANKET laid as evidence of the afternoon merriment.

Our family picnic basket was full of more than just the ingredients for an impromptu picnic. It was portable, zero waste, reusable and full of warm memories with cherished loved ones. Besides, what could possibly compete with a three compartment burnt orange divided plate?

What is your reuse memory?

Feature Photo Caption

Jodie Wollnik’s grandmother as a little girl in the 1920s picnicking in Michigan.

Read The Countdown To Earth Day Series