Make things, not waste

and better still, make things out of waste...

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It does not matter whether it is at the mad season at the end of the year referred to by some as Christmas, or at other times, nowadays everything needs to be store bought, as far as the majority are concerned, in order to be of value and to do the job.

There was a time – and this is not a fairytale and nor is it all that long ago – when people actually made things they wanted and needed themselves as much as possible and some, even already then, from discards.

It is true that waste is generated in many ways – and no, I am not even wanting to consider human waste – and has been, probably, since almost the dawn of times. There will always have been something that has not been able to be used, even by our very distant ancestors. Bones that could not be fashioned into bits of hunting tools or sewing needles and such, and the same goes for other things, I am sure.

Today, however, and recyclability of products is neither here nor there, we have become such a throwaway society that it is no longer funny. Not that it ever was. In addition to that we have the built-in obsolescence in products and the fact that the great majority of goods cannot be repaired or that we no longer have the people who can repair them.

By way of reusing, repurposing and upcycling, however, many things do not have to go into the waste stream, whether they are recyclable and in the end, if we are lucky, recycled, or not. And many things that we need or want can be made in this way for ourselves by ourselves. It is not rocket science but it is something that, it would appear, many of us have to relearn again. I am glad, I have to say, and no I am not gloating, that I am not one of them. I grew up with reuse as something that was simply the way things were done.

Making things yourself for yourself and for others, whether as gifts or even for sale, is satisfying and even more so if the raw materials come for free or almost for free and would have, otherwise, in the main, ended up in the trash can.

At times it may mean buying some tools or some (additional) hardware for the job when making things from waste items, at other times when making things it may mean buying everything that is required. In the latter case, it is true, there are occasions when this route may be a little more expensive, not counting the time investment even, than buying the same product made cheaply in some foreign country where the workers are often exploited but even then, when making it yourself, you can make it exactly the way you want it and you also know how to fix it – as you made it – should something go wrong.

There has been a time that I even built my own radio receivers, especially for shortwave broadcasts and communications, but that was before the advent of the microchip and phased looped lock synthesizers. We built them and could also fix them, with components, often salvaged from old radios and TVs, and they worked, and worked well.

I have made knives from old ones that were destined for the trash or that were, actually, salvaged from the trash. Those blades were turned into anything from small neck knives to larger hunting and fighting knives, given a sheath from salvaged leather.

If we learn, once again, how to make things ourselves and using, as many of our ancestors did, waste materials and the raw materials for doing this, very little waste is actually generated then and needs to be disposed off. Always remember that you can't throw anything away as there is no “away” in this case.

So, let's make things instead from waste.

© 2016