Recycle – Repurpose – Reuse

By Leah
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Its funny how society views things. When I was growing up, we reused everything possible because we were poor. Very little was wasted or thrown away. Soda bottles that were not turned in for the 5 cent refund were used for drenching live stock and storing used motor oil – which was used to weather proof fence posts. Plastic margarine tubs were reused for left overs and storage of all sorts. Granny’s snuff jars were washed and used for drinking glasses, as were store bought jelly jars (usually given to us as Christmas gifts since Mom made her own jelly).

In my Granny’s day, flour sacks were cut and sewn into curtains, table cloths, and clothes for my Aunt. Anything bought in a wooden or metal container was greatly prized and saved to store other items in.

Remember the new fad a few years ago that encouraged people to take plastic crates and stack them with boards between for shelving? I was doing that with milk crates and barn boards back in the ’70s because we could not afford to buy a book shelf.

What was necessity then, has become chic now. Furniture made from pallets is sought after and very expensive to purchase. The same goes for hand made rugs from bread bags or old cloth. Where once quilts were made from worn out clothing to keep the family warm at night, now quilts are the ‘in’ thing made from silk, satin, velvet, and machine stitched in all sorts of patters. And the prices are increasingly high.

Here on the farm we still recycle and reuse as much as possible, both out of necessity and just plain habit. Every time we go to the dump I find myself scanning the ‘free’ pile to see what is there that I might have a use for. You’d be surprised how you can re-purpose things.

We use pallets for making gates, sheds, and repairing barn walls.

An old freezer has become a storage container for grain, medicines, and lambing supplies.

Old tires are used to keep the barn roof from being loosened by the frequent storms, and my dad used to weld items to old wheels to anchor them.

An old industrial sink has become a water trough and a broken gate becomes part of a corral.

Pieces of an old crib insure that new lambs cannot go through a gate and get lost while another part of the same crib has become a hay feeder.

We took the rusted hardware off of an old seed / fertilize spreader and now it is a garden cart.

Even my son and his wife have learned the value of re-purposing. Their old bathtub has become the swimming pool for their ducks.

Because of our willingness to reuse, we only go to the dump once every couple of months. And then it is usually to deliver the recycle items we do not need to reuse ourselves such as aluminum cans or glass and plastic containers. But the strangest part of it all is that we are naturally living a life the wealthy want to imitate. They want their furniture to look like old pallets and their curtains to look as though they were made from flour sacks. And they pay absorbent prices for this luxury. So we find that we are now the trend setters, and those who are much better off are scrambling to keep up. We have suddenly become the ‘haves’ and the wealthy the ‘have nots’. Such a strange world…

Photos property of Leah McAllister.