Thursday, November 10, 2011

The (Sorta) Secret Second Lives of My Stuff

It's standard operating procedure for us frugal types to reuse things as many times as possible - it's an ingrained part of our lifestyle! While we often reuse items for their original purpose (e.g. hand-me-down clothes, washing and reusing baggies), I tend to get more of a kick out of the times we use things for an entirely different purpose the second (or third, or fourth) time around.

Some examples that come to mind:

1. Our jack-o'-lantern: Obviously, its first life was as a Halloween decoration. While most people simply discard their pumpkins once trick-or-treating is over, we bake ours up and make pumpkin puree.

2. My husband's hockey stick Muskoka chair: Assembled from busted hockey sticks and an old futon frame, this project gets top marks for ingenious use of scrap materials!

3. Random clothing reuses: Our clothes tend to go through several lifecycle stages; first they're "good" clothes, then once they get too rough around the edges, they become work clothes (for messy jobs like painting) or play clothes for the kids. Many times pants that are worn out at the cuffs or ripped at the knees become shorts. After that, things start to get more interesting. Really worn out stuff becomes rags, T-shirts may become T-shirt yarn, and old wool sweaters can be felted to make a variety of items. I even made my no-sew menstrual pads from an old polar fleece top and some old washcloths. My sewing skills are pretty limited, but if I was a bit more competent, I'd make quilts with old clothing scraps, too!

4. Assorted food scraps: I try to keep our food waste as close to zero as possible. This often involves recycling little bits of leftovers into a variety of new food forms. My Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Lentil Soup comes in handy for using up a wide variety of items. And the inedible food bits get tossed into the compost bin and reused in our garden. I also sprinkle coffee grounds around my acid-loving plants such as the rhododendron, or use them to whip up some Mocha-Frappuccino Face Mask for a little spa treatment!

5. The wooden planter boxes on our deck: These were built using scavenged wooden pallets (a great free source of wood!).

Does your stuff have a secret second life, too? I'd love to hear some of the clever ways you reuse your household goods.

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