Why Do I Like to Repurpose/Recycle?

Recently I was asked if I would share my desire to recycle, and I felt very honored.   The question was obviously presented by someone who cares about the planet.  I realized that I take this desire for granted, and then asked myself, “Why don’t I share that here?  After all, I am a naturalist and why not, just after my last post?”

Back in the day, I had a relationship with a Native American who taught me, in an intuitive way, how to look at things differently–to question what was before me. And from that experience, I learned to look at the devastation being done to our planet. I learned how to garden organically, how to watch the moon phases for planting, how to have patience, and how to become spiritual without trying. Maybe my lack of funds at the time also instilled in me a different way to think–to repurpose what already was; to “make do”.

Going back further, those times spent in my aunt’s attic contemplating the embroidered pieces that were lovingly made and sitting in a trunk, made me dream of the people who embroidered them and created a desire in me to see them put to use.  My aunt wouldn’t  have given them up for anyone, and knowing this, I didn’t want anyone else to have their beautiful “lovelies” sitting around, gathering dust.  Hence my Etsy shop, Aunt Mayme’s Attic (http://www.etsy.com/shop/AuntMaymesAttic) was born.  What better way to improve my love of recycling than to find old pieces–embroidered or otherwise, to sometimes repurpose and sell to others at a low price?  What better way to bring back a piece of history and rekindle thoughts of a more simpler time?  Kind of like curling up in a big chair with a favorite novel, or Nancy Drew Mystery.

So my desire to recycle came twofold: “What could I do with things that were already in place?” and “What could I do with reducing waste?” Then too, there’s my desire to share with someone, through my Etsy shop, those very things I find special. I use the shop mostly as an outlet for my creativity; it’s certainly not a money making project! But I recycle as much as I can.

I’m one who will wash plastic ziplock bags over and over, until they get so many holes, they are no longer usable. I’ll visit thrift shops and repurpose many things–forks for stakes in my garden, clothing for me, sheets for my sewing projects or for row covers; anything there has a different purpose from the original one..

I like to challenge myself by thinking out of the box with the items I find and have.  I grew sunflowers and not only did I feed the birds with the seeds, and composted the remaining heads, but I also used the stalks as supports for my cucumbers.  The stalks were a little prickly, but the cukes loved to attach themselves and “see” how far they could climb.

I find old bicycles and use them as trellises for my clematis.  My vegetable garden sports an antique headboard.


And the bottom of a glass-topped dining table (the part where the glass was inserted) is used to support pea vines. A beautiful six sided shape and very sturdy.

I like to save those plastic containers you get at the bakery or Walmart to use as mini greenhouses to start my seeds indoors.  The Walmart ones are great because they are the ones that the roasted chickens come in.  Not only are they high domed, but the bottom has “channels” that drains the water when watering.

I was contacted by Mary Jane’s Farm to discuss my use of old soda bottles in the garden (I was working on a merit badge):  You cut them into thirds or fourths if you want to use more of the center portion (the solid lines are where the cuts are, the dotted line is optional);

Bottle with Markings

The top is used as an olla (a Native American watering device),

Bottle Tops as Ollas (buried in ground)

the middle makes a cutworm collar,

Partially buried center section

and the bottom is used as a small pot to grow seeds or turned over in the garden for a mini greenhouse.

Bottle bottoms turned up for mini greenhouses

I use old margarine containers and yogurt cups (if I don’t send them to be remade into toothbrush handles) as covers for plants when I set them out.  The world is full of reusable things!  Try starting seeds in K-cups, if you want to have some fun.

When I  repurpose, not only am I smiling because I know I’m doing something good, but I can feel the earth smiling, and that’s really big to me.

I so much support anyone who is “doing battle with the Big Guns” about saving the planet. “Big Guns” being Corporate America and its waste. I often think of the saying by a great Native American leader that goes something like this: “We do not inherit the Earth; we borrow Her from our children”. I’m not of the camp that says “The earth can heal itself, so we don’t need to worry”—-any organism will die off, if it’s not treated well, and the earth is no exception.

Well, that’s enough for now. My chicken soup is finished processing and I need to remove the jars. (I take chicken parts left over from my organically fed chickens–you know, the “icky” parts–neck, back, etc.– cook them down, and use them for soup.  Then I process it all in my pressure canner. Yummy!)

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