The Four Rs

Published in Eumundi Green Issue 179

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle are all concepts we are quite familiar with, and I have to say that, to my great delight, Repurposing is experiencing a great resurgence in popularity. Perhaps the old Depression mindset that came heavily in the era of ‘mend and make do’ has made way for a newer approach, one that comes from choice and consciousness, not circumstance and scarcity. Not only have vintage and shabby-chic become ‘on-trend’ but it also appears that giving something a new life is truly being embraced.

It is second nature that we now rinse our recyclables in the dirty dishwater at the end of the night and pop them in the yellow-lidded bin, we separate our food scraps and have a compost bin, a worm farm or hungry chooks to dispose of them, and the drought that encouraged our state government to want to dam our prime grazing land, has etched water consciousness into our psyches.

We are certainly doing all we can with the ‘new’ resources we have, but what about all that ‘stuff’ that already exists? The ‘stuff’ that our precious resources have already been burned to produce, transport, sell and build.

Our lives and environments are filled with things that can be reused, not just for their original purpose but also to be re-purposed into something altogether different. Often all that is required is a little thinking ‘out of the box’ to come up with a new use for something that has finished serving its original purpose. Once you start doing this, it becomes easier and easier.

Repurposing holds an exciting challenge; you find yourself looking at even the most mundane of objects in a whole new light. Some obvious choices are to use an old bathtub as a fish or frog pond and an upturned milk crate with a cushion on it for impromptu seating. How about using a laundry basket in a trolley as a stand-in dish drainer when you have too many dishes for the draining board? Your Christmas lights wrapped into a glowing wreath to brighten up the whole year? An old filing cabinet in your garden shed for tools or in your outdoor kitchen or BBQ area? Or how about a bedside lamp hung over a worktable in a dark corner? These are just a few of the ideas I have come up with, and I am always on the hunt for other ways to rescue another article from landfill and save myself money at the same time.

If we take the time to think about the amount of energy that has already been used to produce the goods around us, perhaps we can be reunited with the pleasure that is inherent in the creative process we undergo when we turn something old into something new?

I encourage you to start bringing this idea into your home and begin making your life more Re-purposeful.