Repurposing can go a lot further than diverting things from the dump

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Reusing and repurposing can go a lot further than diverting things from the dump and it is also easy on your wallet.

The aim in reusing and repurposing should not only be to divert things from going to the dump, it should be self-reliance in making those things that you want and need from waste materials in the same way that our grandparents and their parents did it.

Many of our forebears had a make do and mend mental attitude and one of making things for yourself wherever possible rather than spending money. Much of this was due to financial restraints, no doubt, as they would have been working class and laborers on farms, in forests and in factories.

To them wasting and tossing out anything that could have a use, immediately or in the future would have been an anathema and we should develop this mindset again.

But it dos not just end with items that others consider waste and which we may be able to use, reuse, repurpose or upcycle. It also should include the things that we have in that we make them last by looking after them.

Reusing is simply taking the item and using it for the same purpose such as a glass jar that had pickles as a storage jar for dried goods or for leftover food in the fridge, etc.

Repurposing is, to some extent, putting an item to a different use, such as using an empty clean tin can for a pencil bin. The latter, to some extent, also falls into the category of upcycling.

When you use a glass jar, such as from small Frankfurters, for instance and use it for a drinking vessel then that, really, is an act of upcycling and when you rework an item then that is even more so.

It is horrendous to see how much we, as a species, actually throw away day in day out, whether food or other things and many of those things that people toss out do not and should not be thrown out but should be given another new life.

Fair enough, it is true, there are only so many glass jars that you can reuse and repurpose, or tin cans, for that matter. And the same, I guess, goes for many other items of “waste” but before we make the trip to the waste bin or even the recycling bin we should think as to whether this or that can be reused or repurposed for something that we want or need, even if this need may be in the future.

In that spirit I, personally, keep reusing paper that has been printed upon on one side only and make those pages, together with some card as covers, into notebooks. And card from packaging, which is normally only printed upon on the outside, becomes index cards, business/visiting cards, etc.

Fact is that the majority of us waste too much and too much of that waste is sent to landfill sites. If, however, we all employed, once again, the mindset that our grandparents and their parents had with regards to reusing and repurposing, even though they would not have know the latter term, we would have to buy less and send less to the dump. A total win-win situation. You win in that you don't have to spend hard earned cash on things you can make from scrap and the Planet wins also.

© 2013