Finding the Use in ReUse

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Our ancestors were very adept in finding the use in reuse, so to speak, and it came rather natural to them, and this includes especially items of waste. Most of modern man today, however, seem to have entirely lost this ability and can think no further, it seems, than going and buying everything, creating yet more waste.

I look for a possible reuse in everything that I come across and not just waste that I encounter in the home.

Only recently, through work, I came a cross a discarded almost new metal TV stand (I don't have a TV though) that I most successfully upcycled into a stand for my printer on top of the filing cabinet, with a shelf above for paperwork.

Use_in_ReUse_webNot more than a couple of months prior to this find and reuse I came across an almost new IKEA coffee table in the same dumpster which now serves me as a table for my laminator in the “office”.

Reuse with me is always top on the list as I simply hate waste and especially hate waste of resources of any kind.

I grew up with reuse and recycling (making things from waste) before the word recycling as such was ever coined and sold recycled goods on the markets. It was just something that we did.

Glass jars were reused for storage or as drinking glasses when I was a kid, and it is still the case in my home, and many other things were and are given a new life through reuse and via upcycling.

The word “reuse” is made up of “re” and “use” with the “re” standing for “again”, as in “repeat”, and the “use” for, well, “use”. So “reuse” is “use again” and this can mean reuse for the same purpose or for another.

All too often, even among “greenies”, reuse fall by the wayside and the mantra appears to be “we must recycle more” as if the recycling bin would die of starvation if it is not fed. The fact that the recycling mantra is “reduce, reuse, recycle” is being totally forgotten. Clean glass jars are tossed into the glass recycling bin and then they go to the store and buy recycled glass storage jars, being very proud of themselves to have bought recycled, while the jars that they tossed into the recycling bin could have been used for the same purposes, that is to say, as storage jars.

Reuse was common, I mean really common, well into the 1970s and I find it rather alarming that, despite the mantra of the three Rs waste reduction (reduce), and especially reuse, most of the time today does not even enter people's minds. Have we been so brainwashed into consumerism and even into “greensumption”? Methinks it is so.

Today people need to be taught, it would seem, as to reusing items of waste for new purposes in the same way as to making do with what they already have. No one seems to be satisfied with what they have and reusing items of waste or using preowned and preused is an anathema to all too many, and that even in the green movement, I am afraid to say.

If you need (or want) a pencil bin for your desk why go out and buy one, even if it is made from recycled steel, costing you seven to ten dollars, when a clean tin can will do the job equally well for free while at the same time making an even greater statement on your desk as to your concern for the Planet than any recycled would even make.

Reuse was once so in everyone's blood almost, especially among country folks and the working class and also the lower middle class, that it would have been strange to see people not do it. And even behind the scenes in the Big Houses it was common enough. Today it is more common amongst the lords and ladies of the manor that the working classes though true country folk, in the main, never abandoned it. However, people who do it as a rule, in today's society, are seen as eccentric by the majority and even as, and I kid you not, terrorist by the government as, as the powers-that-be say, we do not back the economy.

Nowadays people do have to be taught, literally, and various food manufacturers are doing it on their packaging, how to, maybe, reuse the box of what-have-you so that they have some guidance as to what they could reuse it for. It is rather sad that it had to come to this and proves that we have not advanced at all but rather have gone backwards in so many ways.

Reuse does require a certain mindset. One that can see the potential in this or that, be that an item of packaging that would otherwise go to waste, a glass jar or a tin can, etc., or something that no longer fulfills its original purpose or something that another has tossed into the trash.

I don't know about you but as for me reuse is always high on the agenda and I consider a possible reuse for everything that I come across. It saves me money and it good for the Planet. A total win-win situation therefore.

© 2013