Living Simply: Reusing, Repurposing and Recyling


It's a harsh way of thinking to refer to all consuming as bad, so, I try not to go to that extreme.

"Our days begin with consuming. Consuming is not wrong; in fact it is necessary for life."

However, it is the amount of our consumption (or necessary vs. not) that bothers me.

Do you shower with a tepid 5 gallon bucket or spend 20 minutes under the hot streams?

Do you eat three large meals every day and three snacks, too, ending with a belly fuller than Buddha? 

Do you drive 10 feet to the dumpster instead of walk? 

You know what I'm saying. Perspective, friends. It's all about it.

I just try to keep perspective in mind when I do things and use things. It's helped that we've needed to save money because instead of paper towels we use plates for snacks and cloth rags for cleaning. Instead of paper napkins we use cloth, too. Instead of toilet paper, we use cloth.


Not quite. (Get the scoop here.)

Anyway, just little choices of reusing help me feel like I'm not just consuming and filling landfills with bunches of disposable junk. (Of course, the disposable diapers we use every day still bothers me ... but rashy bums are a different story for a different day...)

So, you all know that I like to repurpose things. I absolutely LOVE to buy second-hand and make something ugly into something beautiful. And, I'm not a professional at it, but it is so fulfilling knowing that I'm breaking the cycle of buy-new-buy-new-buy-new and using something that has already been loved and won't cease to exist if it goes into a garbage truck. And, if you don't like it, make it better!

(And, please, don't get me wrong. I love a thing with a tag pretty much as much as the next person. We buy plenty of new things. New clothes are my vice - shhh!! A few of the things we would only buy new are mattresses and pillows - used? Ick!) 

My repurpose case(s) in point:

(t-shirts into bloomers)

(old, yucky chair with gorg lines)

(vintage sheet into kitchen valance)

(25 cent record player ... yes! she will make her prettier appearance soon!)

And, just wait until you see the other repurposing projects I have in the works including: a livingroom makeover, a vintage dress into pillow covers, from shirt to baby dress and more! I think repurposing projects are some of my favorite to do and to find. People are just SO creative!!

Finally, we recycle.


It's INCREDIBLE how trash adds up when you don't put your paper, plastic, tin, aluminum, cardboard and glass into the recycling bin - it's crazy!! And, after living in Germany (where you can pretty much recycle most everything including food scraps), US recycling seems so limited. How I wish recycling was less about "can we make money on this?" and more about "let's work to keep our planet". Korea, Switzerland, Germany ... all of these first world countries can do it, why not us?

However, instead of complaining, I try to be grateful for what we can recycle and diligently do so. Every couple of weeks, we load it up in the backseat and take it about a mile down the road and dump it.

(I'd love to know exactly where it goes and how recycling is done here in Kansas, but I haven't checked that out yet. Maybe I will in the near future.)

So, get in on the conversation! How do you reuse? Do you like repurposing? What do you think about recycling? 


  1. Come to the Pacific Northwest! We 'greeners' recycle like Europeans, yes, even the food scraps! For years however, I kept the vegetable scraps in coffee cans, let them putrefy, then buried the glop in my garden. It's even better than compost!

  2. Nice post, I like it a lot!
    I only recently started repurposing stuff when I noticed how many clothes I have that are washed out, the fabric has gone from soft to yucky and a lot of my pants that I had to shorten, have actually shrunk so they are too short now!
    I repurposed two T-shirts into yoga pants. The T-shirts were a little small (I am a size S) so the pants actually don't fit that well, but I was happy they were not gathering dust in the wardrobe anymore.
    I think it all started with last year's jeans I got in California. I got a whole bunch of them because they are so much cheaper than here in Switzerland. Those are the ones that needed to be shortened. Instead of paying a tailor a huge amount of Swiss Francs, I bought a nice sturdy and affordable gem of a sewing machine (100 EUR on, almost exclusively ranked with five stars) and set to shorten the jeans myself.
    Since then I have also done patchworking and quilting.

    I actually returned from clothes shopping from the H&M sale half an hour ago and I kid you not when I'd say that I saved 50% on every single item. If not more! So, while I watch Germany vs Netherlands tonight, I will chuck out at least 1 wardrobe piece of clothing for each H&M thing I bought.
    There are half a dozen T-shirts in there that are still ok but have no shape - thus, instead of donating, I might sew a nicer shape into them!
    Another project I am currently on is repurposing my colleagues old jeans into "renaissance denims" (check etsy for that term, then you know what I mean). ... I still work full time though. I can only repurpose things one step a night, which is very annoying when you have to get out of the 'zone' already 30 minutes after you started.

  3. @Kathie - I did love that about Idaho! Maybe someday.

    @Monika - Awesome ideas!! I love them all. I'd also love to see how your repurposing clothing turns out. Also - the buy-one-get-rid-of-one is so hard to do but really a great move. Kudos to you!! Thanks for commenting!!

  4. I have been thrifting and repurposing a lot of things, rather than buying new. I have intermediate sewing skills and access to a great seamstress (my mama!) When I have questions, so making clothes for myself and Sam out of repurposed or cheap thrifted fabric has been fun, and is a style challenge too. :)It's fun to give things a new life or purpose.
    We don't do much recycling... I wish we did more, but I have never found a system that wasn't cumbersome, taking up so much precious space in our already tiny house. How do you organize your stuff before taking it to recylce... or would you mind sharing your 'system'-- what the recycling method and storage looks like in your home?