While the DIY-eco-minimalist lifestyle is certainly gaining more and more traction in American homes, the opposite is also true as we see in extreme examples like the television show, Hoarders. With so much stuff in the world, it's easy to find ourselves overwhelmed with too many things not quite ready for the landfill. And you can credit companies like Wal-Mart and Target for demanding cheaper products from their suppliers, which ultimately means a quicker need to replace those items once they start to self-destruct. But not all needs to go to the landfill… and not all needs to clutter up your home, either. So which goes where? How can you reuse without hoarding?
- Is It Really Broken? Two words: Duct. Tape. Many items can break in superficial ways, like a crack or the handle coming off. But the inherent use of the item may still be functional. We can get years of use out of many things with a good tape job, despite some wear and tear. It saves us money and keeps us from buying new items (while likely slacking on getting rid of the old, too). Resourceful is the new chic, so don't be ashamed to let your tape jobs show!
- New Life: I used a wooden salad bowl as a fruit bowl that lost a big chunk of itself to a crack for years. Where it broke made easy access for my fruit, and it actually looked like it was meant to be that way. Lots of broken items can be repurposed into something else—drawers of a broken dresser can become planters, broken fan blades can become gardening tools (with lots of duct tape help), cracked dishes can hold candles, etc. Repurposing can be a fun activity for the whole family and help turn that useless clutter into something fantastic!
- Art: Stacks of magazines, rogue buttons, strings, ribbons, pieces of broken glass and plastic—they can all be incorporated into art. We're all artists if we want to be, and creating a piece of art all your own can be incredibly rewarding as well as helpful in cleaning out the junk drawer.
- Upgrade your Furniture: Blankets, comforters, curtains and sheets can take on a new life as a cover for an ottoman, chair or sofa. Don't spend thousands of dollars on new furniture while fabulous blankets sit in your closets for years on end.
- Organize: One of my favorite things about reusing is getting more organized. An old mailbox, bread box, basket or bucket can become a storage area for garden tools, arts and crafts or beauty supplies. Jars can organize seeds, buttons, nails, etc. Organized systems can help keep you from looking for something for hours and keep you from throwing a perfectly useful item out just because its original function is no longer being served.
- Gift: Of course one of the greatest things you can do with something that no longer really serves you is to turn it into a homemade gift. Whether that's a piece of art or jewelry, or a terrarium (you can make them in old lightbulbs!), or something else entirely, nothing beats a custom gift… except maybe cleaning out the clutter.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger