this past week i had to evict my tenant who had created such a stench in my basement room that i was worried for the health of my house. garbage piled up, body odor issues, and a funk that i just couldn’t put my finger on. so after repeated requests, i finally gave him notice and on the last day of the month, he left peacefully. i smudged the room twice (probably going to do a third this weekend for good measure). then i went outside and found crap sitting out by the garbage can (i only get garbage once a month – i only create about a bag a month, so this saves me some $), and my garbage stuffed full as well. because of the funk, i didn’t even get out gloves to pick out the recycling, i just left it. but it amazed me what he left out to go to the dump outside of the can. a fully functional floor lamp. a wooden broom and a mop (aha! no wonder he threw those out – he never knew what they were for!).
it would never occur to me to throw these things to sit in a garbage dump for a thousand years. i cleaned up the floor lamp and put it in the rental room for the next tenant to have. the broom is for the garage as these never need to be tossed. the mop still had the cleaner attached to it so we’ll use that up and recycle the plastic from the parts.
so, two days after this, i had my recyclers class and perfect timing it was…we focused on a round table discussion, with a couple of speakers sprinkled in, about reusing, repurposing, and simplifying. there are the bigger projects around the home – remodeling, building, etc. and there were smaller but equally important actions that we discussed – from ways we repurpose clothing to talking about how we have given our loved ones experiences over Stuff.
so with that, here are a few things that i wanted to share that i have done, to reuse / repurpose, and overall decrease my consumption.
* home projects – repurpose/reuse:
– this past weekend i made tomato cages out of scrap wood and screws i had in my garage. the tomatoes won’t mind that they’re not storebought, and i loved making something with my own hands (even if i’m a rookie with power tools!). last year i did a similar project to make raised beds for the garden.
– last year i had my handyman install recycled denim insulation batts in the crawlspace under my kitchen nook. ecohaus sells them in small quantities, perfect for little projects, they are soft to the touch, and are made from the scraps created at the factories that make jeans. yes i could have done this myself, but crawlspaces are not a happy place for my mental.
– a couple years ago i invested in having the walls of my 1925 home insulated and it’s made a huge difference. to do this, i hired a contractor to do the blown-in insulation made from non-toxic cellulose (shredded recycled newsprint) coated with borate (a fire retardant that – bonus! – ants hate as well). they did it in half a day, as for this all they have to do is remove one slat of siding, drill in holes, blow it in, seal it up, and replace the slat. $1,100 for the project and $250 energy efficiency rebate subtracted from that. worth it’s weight in gold. by the way, please know that many home re-use centers will accept bagged up fiberglass insulation, if you want to get that toxic stuff out of your house and replace with something safer).
– last spring my neighbor built my deck for me, and with the leftover 2-20′ boards and bag of cement, i built my own framed fire-pit and bowl for my backyard.
– next week, my friend with mad power tool skills has promised to help me repurpose two amazing old fir doors that have been in my garage since i bought my house. i want to make bench seating for the nook in my kitchen to have a place to sit – but it’s definitely not a project i want to do on my own!
* giving the gift of experience and other simplicities…
– many of you know i don’t ‘do’ christmas. i have solstice and i bring friends together. always my best memory of the year, just cooking for the people i love. no gifts besides the gift of togetherness and food and drink. that’s enough for me.
– canning, preserving, making it on your own – i love when someone makes something and have done a number of trades in my time. can you sew? trade it for something you can’t cook. got a neighbor with chickens? trade them eggs for something you make. can you build stuff? partner with a friend or neighbor, or give someone you love the gift of a project. help them paint, help them weed, just help.
– spend time at the park, the beach, the woods, the library – there’s no reason to go to the mall and spend money when you can be using your mind and body and avoid the pocketbook altogether. pack a lunch and enjoy your time whether it be solo or with someone.