A couple of cultural quirks in Brazil, at least in the circles I run in, involve re-using things. A few examples:

Every time I give a gift, the recipient carefully unwraps it, returns the wrapping material to me, and then appreciates the gift. With one friend I’ve made a running joke out of re-using the exact same wrapping paper (a lovely Florentine print) over and over, refolding it each time to fit the gift.

If you give someone some leftovers or cake in a Tupperware-type container you will get the container back, at least neatly washed and dried. In some cases it will be returned filled with an equivalent dessert or snack. I am less diligent about returning the containers, so I have a drawer full of all sizes and colors and shapes. I am very aware, however, of where each one came from, and when I know I will see a certain person again I do try to remember to dig up their container and take it along.

The subject came to mind today when I was buying fancy trim for sewing projects. Good quality trim is expensive and hard to come by. I was pleased to see one time that the most beautiful medieval liturgical embroideries were often cut off of their original vestments or altar frontals and re-used on new garments at a later date. Hopefully this generations’ best sewing efforts will be the seeds of the next generations re-use of trim, embroidery and good lace!

An example of the re-use of older embroidery on newer vestments can be seen in this article:

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