Reduce, Reuse Recycle- Finding New Uses for Old Things!

by Megan MacKenzie June 25, 2015

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We often associate the three R's with our household trash, however they should really apply to every element of our lives. We've all likely appreciated the odd item of vintage clothing that stands the test of time and only gets more amazing as it ages. Vintage clothing is one way to reuse. One person's trash is often another's treasure. This is important to remember when discarding "old" clothes and other household items. I personally put an old, torn up couch, and a beaten up old table from my patio on the front lawn this month. The couch had been ripped to shreds by my dog, and yes, could have been salvageable if recovered, but was in awful condition. The table had good bones, but the wicker drawers had been rotted and eroded from several harsh Canadian winters. Both items, however, disappeared in less than 24 hours. This is a perfect indication that something that I consider to be junk can have potential for someone else. 
It's important to implement this creative thinking ourselves before hastily deciding to get rid of our used household items and replacing them with something "new and fresh." It can be really easy to make things feel new again, you just need some inspiration. Yes, I appreciate that most people have full time jobs and a family and commitments, so the idea of a "fun project" doesn't actually sound so fun. Once you get into it though, DIY fixer upper projects can be a great creative outlet, and a nice way to spend some time with your spouse (or even kids) doing something other than errands and grocery shopping.
Lacking inspiration? Here are a few ideas. Got an old table? Sand it down and paint it an entirely different colour. (With a non-toxic paint, of course.) If you're feeling really bold, add an interesting stencil on top. It will seem brand new again and totally give the room a whole new feel. If you have an old water jug, repaint it and use it as a vase for flowers. Pull out your grandfather's old travel trunk from the basement. Put a fresh coat of paint on it, a piece of glass over top, and Voila! You have a very cool looking coffee table. You can even make use of old soup cans! Once you've cleaned them and removed the plastic labels, paint them in a pretty pastel colour. They make great little containers for holding pencils etc. on your desk. Got some old wooden crates lying around in the garage? Paint them a nice soft colour and use them as bins for your kids toys. Old clothing is my personal favourite DIY project. You know that awesome rocker tee from the 70's your dad gave you that you only wear to bed? Give it a makeover with some scissors! Cut off the sleeves and crop it a bit. You can even pull in the sides if you're skilled with a needle- It's so easy to reinvent your clothing by giving it a different look. 
Not only will refurbishing old items to make them new again save you a ton of money, but the more people cut back on buying new items, the less demand there will be for production, hence less air pollution from manufacturing plants, and so on. This whole "giving things a fresh start" concept should be applied to dirty items as well. It's so easy to see a filthy cushion, appliance or other household item and feel that its had it's day. However, it's always surprising how much of a difference a proper clean can make. Sometimes it's just about finding the right product to target exactly what the dirt is. For example, the Hot Tub Company just picked up No Sweat to sell with their tubs to help get rid of that nasty bacteria and grime that builds up after a few soaks. The reason this works so well is because the grime that builds up in hot tubs is a product of the bodily oils and biological substances that we leave behind in the tub... just the stuff No Sweat targets! The point is, find a product that targets the exact cause of the dirt, and give it a proper clean before deciding whether it's salvageable or not. 

Megan MacKenzie
Megan MacKenzie