That Recycling Thing

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without: Jack and I have made an artform out of frugality. We wash Ziploc bags, use strawberry boxes to hold dish sponges, feed the animals out of old pie tins, and even built a garden statue out of cans once. It was fun. I had to get a tetanus shot.

I save salad and carryout containers of clear plastic to start heirloom tomatoes each February. IMG_8864Tomatoes like a terrarium effect when they first start out, and if you go to Rural King, Tractor Supply, or any of the other awesome farm stores around here, you can buy a plastic tomato starter kit for $20.

Or, you can save your salad and carryout containers of clear plastic, fill them with free dirt from the backyard, and grow heirloom tomatoes from seeds swapped with friends.

Although we like these savings, and it is fun to figure out what strange uses regular household items can serve, my desire to recycle is at war with my wish to not live in a house full of string too short to be saved–carefully labeled in a Danish butter cookie tin. You know the kind of people I’m talking about, little packing peanuts and all.

Yet Marie Kondo never speaks to the guilt of adding to a landfill, of being that worst of Appalachian sins: WASTEFUL. Plus, my observation has been that the week after I get rid of that weird triangular-shaped piece of extra-thick black Styrofoam,  I need it for a scarecrow hat. Ask me how I know this. Or the perfect sized cardboard that could have backed an old picture frame, but I had to buy a new one because nothing was thick enough to keep a photo inside it. Or the broken clothes basket that would have made a perfect outdoor bed for the stray hanging around ….

No, in all honesty, Jack and I have given up decluttering and embraced the “hmmm, what can I do with this” camp? You really only need two things to enjoy this lifestyle: a laid-back spouse and a big closet with a sturdy door. Just shove everything in there, no need to organize. Hunting the ripped rubber chicken will lead you past the collection of bubble wrap you’ve been looking for; searches keep locations current. It’s a good system.

IMG_8863And I don’t want you to think Jack and I have lost it completely, but yesterday we started saving dryer lint. I was crocheting a doll for a friend, using the guts of an old dog toy for stuffing; Bruce helped out here; after he eviscerated his sock monkey, I threw the poly-fill in the wash to have on hand for crafty moments.

As I began to run out of Bruce’s contribution, it crossed my mind that dryer lint was very similar….

No, really, we’re fine. It brings us joy to be this nerdy. Go by, mad world.


13 thoughts on “That Recycling Thing

  1. Godde bless the Nerds of our world! Aren’t a lot of our most convenient, important inventions responsible for our conveniences, our joys in life albeit our sorrows as well – our basic blessings – all of them the gifts of the Nerds among us?

  2. I love finding a use for an odd or an end!! Perhaps the world would be a lot better place if the nerds of the world united…or untied!! Nerd Pride on YOUR side! Loved this piece!

  3. I’m in the club, too. Lots of my bits are saved for future vague craft projects. But it’s contagious. Mike just presented me with a fence panel that was on the side of the road that will become part of the flower bed with the gnome house I’m going to make out of the tank that used to be part of our well pump once I figure out how to attach stones and a roof…and if anyone is going to make those roses out of egg cartoons or those flowers from rings cut from toilet paper rolls, tell me where to send my cache.

  4. I once took an old window frame from my childhood home (it had fallen off, paint peeling, no pane in it), put it on my cork bulletin board as a frame for family photos that I then pinned on the cork – my family members together within a delightful frame from our home. Sadly, it disappeared during a subsequent move from my family home.

  5. I just read about making an emergency fire starter using dryer lint packed into the pods of an empty cardboard egg carton, then filled with melted down candle stubs, to make a very effective fire starter, should the electricity go out and one should need to cook over a outdoor fire.
    There you have three items that otherwise would be discarded, made into an item that will be highly useful in the brownouts ahead.

    • Hmmm, we burn candles to keep cats off our kitchen counters. But egg boxes get sent back to farm friends – bet we can find a cardboard pod substitute. Have you heard that Doritos are also excellent fire starters?

  6. loved this piece! I too am a “saver for the future” This includes egg cartons my egg person doesn’t want…they are excellent for starting seeds in pre-spring planting. In Oregon you have to take your own bags to the grocery store now so since I have saved the old “one use” bags to crochet into shopping bags, beach bags, “sit upons” for sitting on the ground and other useful things. Bread wrappers are good for that too. There is a group here that makes mattress pads for the homeless who sleep on the ground…keeps them warmer and dry. I grew up in a post WW11 home where you don’t discard anything broken…you fix it or repurpose it. I have your closet with a heavy door….some call it the garage…

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