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To reuse or not to reuse, that is the question.

I like to take old unwanted or broken things and turn them into something useful. I have been teaching my pack of tiny humans to do the same. I was recently told that this practice is disgusting. The reason being that I am teaching them to be scavengers and act like bums. Now I am curious, how does the rest of the world view this topic? Also if you would like to leave any suggestions in the comments about ways to repurpose things, I would be much obliged. Thank you for your time.
I would like to add a side note. In general I don't teach the kids to go scrounging through the landfill. But I do teach them that if they ever find themselves in a desperate situation, not to overlook a valuable resource because it is used. We go to our local thrift stores and we find things at yard sales. We reuse old broken toys as planters in the garden. We save our coffee grounds and orange peels and egg shells for the garden also. We find things on our walks that have been tossed on the ground, a button or bright rhinestone, and use them for art projects. We learn about the local plant life that can be eaten and which ones to avoid. I just showed them today what a hazelnut tree looks like. ?

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Byrd 7 Aug 21

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I'm all for reusing and repairing items. Consumerism isn't healthy the way we've developed it in the US at least.

I see that even extends to photos of yourself. What was your face - a couple of chess boards? ?


I am amazed at how wasteful and thoughtful we as a species are and have absolutely no shame in harvesting the bounty of other peoples foolishness. Amongst the most ridiculously valuable things I've been involved in scrounging are the laser head from a skin specialists dumpster, value over $500 they have a precision cut ruby in them, sold it back to the manufacturer after they contacted the skin specialist to make sure it wasn't stolen (they also gave him a lecture on the fact that these things were meant to be recycled.) The other was a number of 100 year old proceedings of the State Engineers Society with full pull out plans of major projects of the time, that had been chucked out for the quarterly council clean up, and the State Library didn't even have copies of some of them.

Have also been known to scrounge firewood, outdoor furniture, all sorts of things. Continue teaching your kids to be less wasteful rather than good little consumers. Keep up the good work!

Kimba Level 7 Aug 22, 2018

Yikes. The library thing. An analogy on how easy to see how thousands of years of history can be chucked right out the door

A brilliant story. It reminds of something heard 40 years ago of a disgruntled employee who stole from his employer. He promised all the gold connections out of machinery and walked out of the factory with a matchbox full of gold leaving the employer with a very expensive repair bill on all the equipment.


I can find a use for many discarded things. I rebuild,reweld,repurpose,reinvent. Sometimes for economics, always for the challenge! of my projects!


If you're teaching your kids how not to be wasteful humans, and how to reuse items that would normally end up going to waste in a landfill, please feel free to
tell anyone who has a problem with it to go fuck themselves.

I reuse and repurpose things all the time. I draw the line at dumpster diving for
food because I personally cannot get past the fact that it's in a dumpster. However,
I'm pretty sure that if I were starving, I'd get over it. I'll let you know if that ever happens.
I have known people who do that. It didn't seem to bother them at all.

Raise your small humans however you see fit. Sounds like they are healthy, happy, and being raised intelligently.
Tell anyone who feels otherwise that if they aren't willing to support your children financially, and in all other ways, they don't get to have an opinion.
Or you can just tell them to fuck right off. Whichever. 🙂


How to reuse and repurpose whenever possible I don't own a Keurig either.

What's a Keurig, please?

@FrayedBear a ridiculously complicated way to make one cup of coffee, with lots of waste.


It is not disgusting . Do they think you're climbing into a restaurants dumpster ? Reusing and repurposing are good ways to pinch pennies and come away with useful items and even beautiful art. Keep up the good work??.


We need to hone and teach survival skills.
I salute you.


A friend of mine was doing some volunteer work in India. They gave the kids a balloon and when it burst they cried "can`t you fix it?" For them the concept of such a disposable item was alien. Everything in their lives fixable or reusable.

Not the experience that I had with visiting Nigerians at a New Year's Eve party at a private college just north of Preston. They thought that it was the height of pleasure to make them go bang by jumping on the balloons at the start of the party but blown up and hung for decoration

They didn't do the hanging and inflation either!


With a limited income I repurpose things all the time. No dumpster diving for me, if I got in one I don't think I could get back out. If I see something interesting I may stop or I'll ask others for items.
I'm now making some wind chimes from wine and liquor bottles, small jars, deer antler, extra fishing line and aluminum sheet. Just to have something to do and to see if I can do it.


I guess it depends how you are acquiring the items you're repurposing. Goodwill, thrift stores, garage sales are okay. Dumpster diving, not okay.

Some of my best scores came from dumpster diving near dorms and apartments in college towns right after finals.

@Coleman I got some good stuff that was sitting curbside after the spring semester ended. Most of the stuff was good, they just didn't want to mess with moving it or didn't have room for it at their parents home.


I love making things from other broken things its the best thing ever!


It’s a good thing to reuse.


I love to repurpose objects or use them in my crafts projects. That's why I have an entire room of bins of various 'ingredients' such as fabric scraps, or glitter, or glues, or......


I used to cut up cereal boxes to make bookmarks. I pretty soon realised I would have more bookmarks than books so stopped!

I used to do that. I'd carefully cover them with clear tape ( to better preserve them.

If you have a garden use them for mulch, worm farms or weed control.

Also fill with seedling mix and plant with seeds in them to grow.


One mans trash is another mans treasure. If you can re-purpose something that someone else doesn't want, GREAT! There is a thing called planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence. If we consume as much materials in the US as much as the rest of the world, it's estimated that you'd need 4-5 Earths. Most of the tings we buy don't last more than 6 months before they are thrown out. Apple is notorious for downgrading their iPhones to make people buy new ones...


I love the way you use and reuse..we do the same....its fun too!


We live in a consumer culture that frowns on buying used, and repairing what is supposed to be our own devices. This has to go. Though I never really have taken it up, I've known tons of people who dumpster dive, and much of it has been both for surviving and as a practice of depending on consumer culture.


It depends on what you reuse or repurpose.

Ex-spouses are the hardest IMO.


When i lived in japan, i would save plastic containers that had contained, oh, say, yoghurt, or margarine, and use them to store leftovers, or nails, or paper clips, or whatever. my japanese friends thought i was a genius. they'd been throwing them away and then going out and buying the japanese version of tupperware! i save jars -- any foodstuffs that come in boxes are susceptible to bugs, and that goes double for grains, so i seal that all up in jars. i just ground up some coffee beans that came in bags. i put my fresh grounds in an empty french fried onion container, and i put the leftover whole beans in jars. i use egg cartons to start seedlings indoors before planting season. jeans ripped beyond repair? patch material for stuff that CAN be repaired! i even made a quilt once, but i'm no good at it lol. pill bottles? i made beaded jewelry; beads can be sorted and stored in those bottles. yeah, i am big on containers, and i do use them -- i don't just save them. i go to adult daycare with my alzheimer's-afflicted fiancé, and sometimes the lunch they provide is either short on veggies or long on white bread. when i know this in advance i use a nice, sturdy saved container that once had something else in it to bring a salad along to eat with the provided lunch. i have even repurposed ugly prints on canvas, since fresh canvas is so expensive and i like to paint! and i had a cat, now gone, alas, having succumbed to a brain tumor, whose favorite toy was a nose spray bottle he stole from me! once i discovered his love for such things, i made sure not to throw the bottles away when i was done, but instead rinse them and let him play with them to his heart's content. orange peel you say? soak in white vinegar to make a wonderful nontoxic cleaning fluid! egg shells you say? calcium for the garden -- and those coffee grounds acidify the soil so your pink hydrangeas can blossom blue! we compost all our other discardable vegetable matter (even some kinds of paper); we don't have to pay for plant food.

i always wrap birthday and chanukah presents in pictures i cut from old magazines and catalogues (yes, i recycle the remains). tubs that have no lids? poke holes in the bottom: instant planters!

and what's wrong with a little judicious scavenging anyway? in japan, people would throw away entire sets, like 40 pieces, of china in perfect condition, and rocking chairs, and book shelves -- i missed out on a wok once (someone else grabbed it). it's not as if i rummaged through icky garbage; there were special locations to throw out furniture and stuff. i think the only furniture i had in my house that wasn't acquired from one of those sites was my fridge and my bed! (oh, i miss my rocking chairs!) as for thrift stores, what could be better than helping the cause of your choice AND finding a bargain? some of us can't afford to buy new things (and some of us prefer old things anyway -- the workmanship is often far superior!) garage sales/yard sales help the individual sellers and you can find such treasures.

by far the most valuable treasures i ever found were my cat wafer, discarded at the age of 10 days in a deep gutter the night before a hurricane, and my cat wasabi, thrown into a trash can with his tail broken and his nose dripping green goo from the respiratory infection that almost killed him. someone threw these two treasures away and they gave me joy for almost 15 years each.



I love going to the dumps amazing what you can find .

Sounds like your town needs to develop social and entertainment activities for its citizens or do the local councillors think that the traffic lights on main street and local churches are all that is needed?

@FrayedBear I don't live in a town and we don't need any traffic lights and unfortunetly have too many churches .

@Besalbub Agh! Even worse a rural council and churches. You have my sympathy.


Whoever has Lulu please give her back, I need to paint her nails.

I do try to repurpose old stuff but I am not much good with diy tools. But recycling is big here in the UK, which is brilliant.

Like most things, using tools is a learned skill.


Like always adding a comment withou polling. I never stop using a woman because she was broken!


I am pleased as punch sometimes when though it is a long time since i spent time each day thrifting...when my garbage toll for the week comes in at next to nothing. There is quite a bit of savings in packaging alone. Ifs the kits learn early and with some help it can be lucrative and creative, the market likes minds like that 🙂.

I usually only have a twelve inch sphere of landfill rubbish each week and about 100 litres of recyclable glass, tin, cardboard and paper waste each fortnight.


I'm all for reusing within limits. When looking for a solution, a used item is fine. However, it is not OK to save unused items for that potential purpose. That is hoarding and creates a lot more problems than it solves. Live minimally and efficiently. Reuse when it serves those purposes.

Not many seem to agree with you.

@FrayedBear Probably all hoarders.

There remains a middle ground - saving some things for re-use, without getting buried in them !

I save certain things indefinitely (a minimalist hoarder). My intentions are to reduce waste though, not collect it.


It’s hard to tell. It all has to do with taste. Some objects are worth reusing and saving, some are trash. Plastic is generally indicator of cheap, wood, stainless steel, copper are usually make prettier objects. There is no shame in recovering nice things and give them a new life. Hoarding is unhealthy though.

So the answer to the question really depends on the “how”.

How much time do you invest in that? How organized and declattered are your house and garage? Do the objects you recover have an intrinsic value most people would be able to see or are they only valuable to you? These are the questions that need to be addressed to figure out your question.

That said, old objects can have soul, history, and beauty

As far as hoarding goes, I also teach that if it hasn't been used in 1 year, it's probably not needed. As to if it is valuable to others, I don't understand why that would matter. In some cases yes. When I find things to use as odd planters for when I have my annual succulent sale, it helps to pick things that others will want to buy. But if it is just something to use around the house or a decorative item or something of that nature, I don't see why anyone else needs to like it. Not trying to be rude, just curious. Also we don't often take out time in the day just to find stuff. It is usually collected along our daily walks. Or we may stop in at the recycling store in town if we have a bit of extra time on our way someplace else. Or we reuse some of the kids toys when they break. We often use them as planters and decor for our strange little garden. We say the toy has now retired to the garden. (But you have to say it in a fancy sounding accent, lol)

@Byrd I wasn’t talking about you and your family specifically, I was giving my take on the matter.

I think you and your kids should do whatever makes you happy.

@Lucignolo no worries. I didn't think you were being mean. But I am curious still as to why something needs to be valuable to others in order to be valuable to you. I suppose I hadn't even thought much about the monetary aspect of it all. I try to teach that things like money come and go, the true value of a thing, to me, is in its daily usefulness, it's ability to bring back fond memories or make you or others smile, or it's ability to do a greater good in some way, no matter how small. I want my tiny humans to know that even the most desperately poor individuals are still worth something. They still have value. I thank you for this new train of thought. I will ponder this for a bit as I collect the tomatoes that started from scraps that were going to be thrown away. A thing that has no value to others but now gives back in abundance.

@Byrd It’s not that I care what others think. I used “others” as a frame of reference. It’s very hard to establish what is healthy and what constitutes “a problem” in mental health. If one person says there’s an alien sitting in the back of the room how can we determine he is allucinating? If there are 25 people in that room and only one of them can see the alien we have to use the observation of those 24 as “the truth” against the one that’s seeing the alien.

How do we establish an object has an intrinsic value? Why is a diamond intrinsically more valuable than a plastic ring? These aren’t easy questions to answer. To some a diamond is simply a rock with very little use and value. But when it comes to cutting other very hard rocks, drilling, even drilling bones in surgery, tdiamonds are objectively better than other materials. If we talk about their beauty instead, it’s all debatable. Many artists’ art, before they are understood, is worth almost nothing. Then a famous critic says their work is amazing, or an important museum exposes their art, or a famous gallery begins selling their stuff and suddenly the value changes.

Unfortunately these aren’t easy subjects. Most of us have our peculiarities. The way we establish healthy is based on capacity to function within society, hold a job, build lasting relationships and so on. If you see they all involve others. If one doesn’t function within society, can’t hold a job, can not have lasting relationships, has no friends, or no interactions, it means people around consider that person either unrelaiable, or depressed, or weird.

Hoarding is collecting worthless objects and not being able to let go. Many of these people substitute their emotional emptiness by filling the space around them with objects that have no value and despite their lack of value, they are incapable of getting rid of these objects. See how words such as “worthless” or “objects that have no value” must be used to establish a baseline? How do you define these terms? Something can be extremely valuable to one person even if it’s made of plastic, because as humans we can attribute sentimental value to objects just as we can with people. We can objectify people, but we can also antropologize objects or animals.

So, the way you reutilize your kids’ broken toys may be artistic and extremely beautiful and creative. Nobody can determine the things you create with your boys are not amazing from their home. But in general, which is what I was trying to do, objects are worthless when most people would attribute no value to the objects. One person can say all those people are wrong, and that person could be an amazing artist, or it could be the symptom of something deeper.

I am NOT trying to suggest anything about YOU. I don’t know you, I haven’t seen your creations, I would never judge another human being. I was just trying to help you by establishing some sort of baseline. Hope it’s clear.

Tomato seeds are super valuable. Seeds have the potential of growing into plants and fruits. Most people discard tomato seeds because they don’t have the time, inclination, space, interest in growing their own tomatoes, but I respect a lot anyone that can grow their own food. You can eat food and food sustains life. That’s a huge intrinsic value from our human perspective.

@Lucignolo & @Byrd. Regarding hoarding. Does it matter if something is kept and not used? On numerous occasions I have bought books but not read them for ten or more years - it simply has not been a necessity or the information required until the time it was read. Similarly, my ever expanding bucket list frequently requires things - for instance, I hope to recommence painting to hang on walls and become skilled in trompe l'oeil paintings. I therefore have brushes and pallet knives that under an "if it hasn't been used for twelve months regime throw it out" would incur huge cost when I restart in five or ten years time. If I die before? Shrugs, "chest la vie" but I'm not going to have others influence me by calling me a hoarder because I wisely bought something now because it was offered at a very good price.

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