Taken from Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time…
Baby Step 14- Creative Repurposing
What this baby step is all about:
What? Repurposing? Okay, so it’s just a fancy word for reusing, but you have to admit, it sounds a bit sophisticated, doesn’t it?
The goal is to find a way to repurpose an item that you would normally throw out.
Why this step is important:
Frugality used to mean something different than what we tend to mean when we use the term these days. When we say that we’re frugal, we mean that we shop for deals, try to use up everything we have, coupon clip, buy in bulk, score bargains at second hand stores, etc. Once upon a time, though, frugality was even more of a lifestyle.
I love reading the introduction to Emilie Barne’s book More Hours in My Day
. She tells the story of her mother, raising her and her brother alone after her Father’s death. When she was a young girl, her mother (a seamstress) made her a beautiful dress for special occasions. As the dress lost its newness, it eventually became an everyday dress, and as she grew taller, rows of rickrack were added to extend the life of the dress. When it was no longer acceptable to wear as a dress, it became a play dress to wear over pants. When the dress became tattered, the sleeves were ripped off, and it was sewn into an apron that she wore alongside her mother. Next, the dress became soft cloths for dusting and eventually it made its way into the rag box, where long strips of the fabric became part a rag mop that cleaned the kitchen floor. Over the years, buttons popped up on things like nightgowns, and she even still has some to this day.
Every single part of this dress was used until it was no longer usable. There was no room for waste. Everything was valuable. Nothing was lost. How far we have strayed from this old-fashioned and yet much truer concept of frugality! How quick we are to discard of something that no longer suits its original use.
I long to develop a keener sense of awareness and creativity when it comes to using and reusing the things we own. To skillfully make use of all that God has blessed us with, and to ensure that each item is used to its full potential, rather than taking the easy way out by tossing it in the garbage because it no longer works for the original purpose. Let’s pursue that ingenuity and purposefulness that defined the lives of our grandparents and great-grandparents!
How to get started with this step:
This isn’t an easy step for me to write, just so you know. I don’t always push myself to think outside the box, nor do I routinely examine what I am throwing out and consider whether it could be transformed into a more useful object.
**One example from our own home- toilet paper rolls turned into seedling starters!
Here is a list of just a few ideas from my own home:
- Glass or plastic jars with lids can be incredibly useful for organizing and storage (food, craft materials, office supplies, etc.). Since I no longer buy plastic wrap, I try to save every decent jar with a lid to keep in my cupboard, for the purpose of storing leftovers, pantry items, soup broth, homemade salad dressings, etc. The bonus in this is that it can save money as well, by reducing the containers that you need to buy for these types of things!
- The odd thing we’ve bought has come with a really useful package. For example, I purchased a set of cloth diapers, together with covers and liners which came packaged in thick, see-through, zip up containers, about half a square foot in size. I have begun to use these for storing baby socks, toddler’s underwear or tights, etc.
- As a second example, my daughter has a fold up child-sized tent that came with a medium sized mesh bag with handles- it was impractical to try to get the tent back in that silly little bag each time she’s done with it, but because it is mesh, it is perfect for storing bath tub toys in!
- I've recently been learning to make my own feminine cloth pads, and have been using cloth from all sorts of random places. Old baby towels, unneeded blankets, a stained shirt of my daughter's, a burping cloth I never liked.
That’s just a couple of ideas to get you started. Below, I’ve left links to a few sites with far more creative ideas than my own!
10 Easy Reuse Ideas for Organizing your Home
When Recycling Won't Cut It
Repurpose and Recycle Ideas
The Imagination Factory's Trash Matcher (lots of ideas for kids, especially craft ideas)
Reuse Trash Ideas
Uses for Plastic Bags
Another Use For . . .: 101 Common Household Items
(This is a really neat little book a friend lent me, full of practical ideas)
ReMAKE ReSTYLE ReUSE: Easy Ways to Transform Everyday Basics into Inspired Design
(I haven’t read this one myself, but the concept looks so interesting!)
This is an excerpt from the book Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time. Buy the eBook now!
What are some ways that you've practiced "creative repurposing"? Share your proudest reusing and repurposing moments with us!