The good and the bad

The positive, eco-friendly, 21st century spin on it is that instead of automatically throwing things away, I look at them from every angle to see if they can be re-used in some way. You know, the second of the three Rs — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Can this bag from the produce section be re-used? Why buy a fancy incense burner when the lid to this can of corn will work just as well?

The "you're just like your granny," 20th century, not-so-positive view is that I'm a pack rat, saving trash because it might be useful someday. The store sells new, clean plastic bags, if I need one, and that jagged piece of metal that was cut off of that can of corn is just garbage.

The pack-rat syndrome wasn't such a big deal when we lived in a big house in the city. We had a basement, a two-car garage, an attic and three walk-in closets in my master bedroom (the previous owner had a penchant for "adding on"). So, I had places to store all my stuff.

However, we left that house and all its space when we moved to the country. We have quite a bit more land to roam around on, but closet space is very limited. In fact, in the entire house, we have only two closets, and neither are big enough to be considered "walk-in."

Indeed, we do have a barn, but storing things out there requires Fort Knox-type security to prevent the wildlife — raccoons, opossums, rats, skunks, etc. — from digging in and making a fine nest out of a scrap of gold lamé.

So, we've trained ourselves to think "re-use" whenever possible. Some re-using practices are simple things that generations of my family have done, such as writing the grocery list on the back of a used envelope and then storing necessary coupons, notes, etc. in the envelope during your shopping trip. We use both sides of every piece of paper; we let our daughter use empty paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls for art projects. Some things we do are straight out of decades-old Heloise the mesh produce bags (that contain grapes, lettuce and other fruit and vegetables) as dish scrubbers.

Other re-use ideas are a little more out-there — saving cardboard product boxes (cereal boxes, tea boxes, etc.), turning them inside-out and re-gluing them to make a perfectly usable, plain box; cutting up other product boxes into rectangles and re-using them as postcards; cutting and gluing magazine pages into envelopes; blending up scraps of paper in the blender and making new sheets of handmade paper.

When I found Etsy, I was ecstatic! So many of the artists on the site for buying and selling homemade things are into recycling, reusing and repurposing things that might otherwise be trash. I'm still working on getting my Etsy site full of products, but it's getting there.


tanyBUG said...

since joining etsy, I notice that I look at "junk" different. I am always looking at stuff wondering how it could be reused. And I looove going to garage sales for that reason, too bad summer is winding down now :(

La Alicia said...

I applaud your RRR thinking. Wishing more people would adpot it -- I do my best...

Sock Monkey Jungle said...

oooh some fab tips iv never even thought about this is all very enviromently friendly ideas love it! nice new blog!!

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