They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And at the rate we fill landfill each year, that means there’s a whole heap of treasure just waiting to be discovered by treasure hunters with a keen eye and an innovative mind.
When we repurpose ‘stuff’ we keep it out of landfill and avoid having to buy new stuff or ready-made, single-purpose solutions to our everyday problems. Not only are we reducing our environmental impact, we save a whole heap of money as well.
While regular recycling is a great thing to do and we should be recycling as much as possible, it’s not the perfect solution. Of course, not buying waste in the first place is a good start, but not always very practical. Repurposing things keeps them out of the waste cycle for longer.
The photo above is of my parents old washing machine. And I bet you were thinking it’s a letter box! Well, it is a letterbox, made by my father from the body of an old, broken washing machine.
I guess I know where I got my frugal habits from.
As well as the repurposing that we can do ourselves, one of the great things about the repurposing movement is that commercial companies are getting into it. As consumers, we can be making the decision not only to reduce waste in the first place, but to buy recycled where possible. Here are just a couple of good commercial recycling ideas:
|This pencil case was once a car tyre. You can find the website for this and other products here.|
|Looking for a way to reuse old CD cases? This and other funky gifts from old computer stuff can be found here.|
|And this company creates functional and attractive home decor stuff from tin cans.|
How to Creatively Recycle at home
- Start by changing the way you look at things. Time to see the treasure in the trash. Instead of seeing stuff as rubbish, look at it from a “how can I repurpose this?” perspective.
- Think twice before throwing things away. I’m not suggesting that you should hoard heaps of stuff and clutter up your home, but a couple of tin cans and egg cartons here and there always seem to come in handy.
- Before throwing something out, think about how it might possibly be repurposed. A broken plate could become a mosaic work of art, old clothes could be cut up and resewn or in the least used as rags, junk mail could be used for paper mache projects.
- Recycled “rubbish” is great for kid’s craft. There are thousands of websites on the net with craft ideas from recycled materials, but my favourite is probably Frugal Family Fun Blog.
- The alternative to thinking “what can I do with this?” is to think “I have a problem, now what do I have on hand that can solve my problem?” This is how we came up with our clothes peg basket solution.
Another example of this last approach: Have you ever noticed how much stuff comes in thick vinyl packaging? Like sheet sets. I hate throwing out this kind of packaging, especially if it’s got a zipper or snap fasteners – you never know when it might come in handy. I cut up some packaging (that might otherwise have been thrown away) and used that to cover a handmade baby change mat – very useful when bub is young and you’re travelling because it’s easy to wipe down if any accidents occur.
Do you have a creative recycling story that you’re proud of? Why not share it in the comments – it could be the inspiration that someone else is looking for.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.