Repurpose? What is that?

wooden pallets strewn about a yard ready to be repurposed

Repurpose Pallets

Repurpose Another Way to Recycle

First off, let’s explain what is meant by repurpose.  Thoreau once said “Be not simply good.  Be good for something.”  I’ve taken Thoreau’s approach and say let’s take items no longer needed, and make them good for something.  You may ask why should we repurpose, but look around.  Is there not enough waste on this planet?

Repurpose simply means to take an item no longer needed, and with alchemy turn it into something useful.  Why always look in the marketplace for new items?  Look for ways to use what you have and repurpose them into new items you may need.  It is a new way of recycling, or upcycling, or whatever other fancy new term you want to apply.  Bottom line, it is what our ancestors did years ago.  They didn’t have access to marketplaces like we have today.  They learned out to squeeze as much value out of items as possible.  We need to re-educate ourselves and find secondary and possibly tertiary uses for items rather than tossing them aside.

You can repurpose items as simple as toilet paper rolls into bookmarkers, or things as complex as architectural designs to take old plane fuselages and turn them into a library.  Ingenious!  But, for today we will focus on the smaller projects that most any of us could do.

Wine corks is one area I want to explore with the abundance of wine corks available on this island.  I have seen wine cork trivets, made from corks hot glued together, or cork boards, or wine cork coasters, or even creative key chains made from corks since they float.  This is a particularly clever idea given we live on an island.

Pallets however are items that can be used very creatively in a variety of ways.  Here at Creative Ideas is where you will find 25 DIY projects to make your gardens from pallets.  These garden ideas are very practical, particularly if you have a confined space for your gardens.  What about furniture?  Do you need some practical new furniture for your abode?  Well Homedit will show you how to use pallets for 25 different unique furniture ideas.  Everything from coffee tables, to sofas, beds, tables and more. We have no lack of pallets on this island, and I am personally taking this approach and making dining tables for my guests here at Upachaya Eco-Lodge and Wellness Resort.

In my research for this topic I have seen chandeliers from bottle caps and plastic spoons, old tires used for swings, and made into planters in the shape of animals, tires for sandboxes, garden planters, and trendy tables wrapped in jute.  The limitations are only your imagination.

One of the more simple items I loved finding was taking an old wool sweater, and washing it in hot water.  This will shrink the material and make it more dense.  Then make a bag out of the sweater material and use the sleeves and make mittens.  Clever!

There are 4 commandments if you will to recycle or repurpose:

1) Don’t throw stuff away.  Save what you can, but don’t get carried away.  There is a fine balance between saving and clutter, and be careful not to step over that line.

2) Be creative!  Think of ways to solve problems with items all ready on hand.

3) Be resilient and independent.  When you stop looking at the marketplace to fulfill your needs, you will find more opportunities for DIY projects.  Be flexible, patient, and lower your expectations.  But, in the end you will save money and clean up the planet.

4) Develop DIY skills.

So now for some of the larger projects I’ve seen doing my research.  Dan Phillips is doing his part to help clean up the planet, and in so doing he is helping others by building homes.  These homes are geared for low-income, but they are creative, and craftily built out of salvaged materials.

If you still aren’t sure about repurposing materials to build a home. Then check out these homes to see how buildings built for other reasons have now become viable housing.

There is an abundance of opportunity to reuse, reduce and recycle, upcycle, repurpose, whatever name you want to label the activity.  All you need is a little creativity and the mindset to make it happen.  Check out lot-ek and the projects they have been involved with reusing and repurposing a variety of materials to make some beautiful, grand residential and commercial buildings.

Ok, back to you.  You don’t need to get as grand as the lot-ek projects, or even repurpose a house.  But next time you are thinking of things you need for your home, your yard, your environment, think also of the things you currently have that may be able to be transformed and repurposed into what you need.