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Re-purposing for chronic savers

May 8, 2014
Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

I have a longstanding problem with throwing things away.

Don't get me wrong. When it comes to old newspapers and general trash, I can heave them as quickly as the next person. But there are so many things I come across that seem perfect for some other use. These are the things I have a hard time tossing.

Part of this "discard-averse" syndrome can be traced back to my thrifty mother. But I think it was heightened in those long-ago years when I was a Brownie Girl Scout leader.

Each week, I tried to find an interesting craft for my girls to work on. One of the best projects, a Mothers' Day pincushion, came from a craft magazine. The cushions were made of such unrelated cast-offs as two canning jar rings, some scraps of colorful fabric, discarded panty hose and a cafe curtain ring.

Since Moseyin' Along isn't an illustrated column, you'll have to take my word for it. The finished product was a testimony to repurposing.

Two members of my Brownie troupe were my own daughters Becky and Sherri, so I received two of the clever pincushions. And I'm happy to report that more than forty years later, the little gifts are still serving their original purpose.

Of course, finding such new uses for things that would normally be discarded was a way of life for our mothers and grandmothers and those who came before them.

From the founding days of our country through the stresses of the Great Depression and the rationing of the wartime years, thrift was not only a virtue but also a necessity. Homemakers used any means possible to stretch the family budget.

Women like my mother and my mother-in-law saved "tinfoil," slivers of soap, rubber bands ... anything and everything that could be given a second life.

These days, my own re-using fervor is more than just turning a chipped coffee mug into a pencil holder. I'm constantly trying to find a useful second life for cast-offs few would bother with.

Among the normal discards that challenge my imagination are those clear plastic cup-type lids that come on everything from spray paint cans to spray deodorants. Even hair mousse and perfume are topped with such plastic covers, only in a smaller version.

When I look at these inviting little cups, I keep thinking, "there's just gotta be a good use for this."

I remember many folks in the Girl Scouting community who continually devised innovative ideas for recycling and repurposing to share with their girls. Long time Scout leader Mary Cooper of Findley Lake was the area's hands-down Craft Queen. And thanks to her inspiration, countless girls lucky enough to be in her troops are today creative women and moms.

My sister-in-law, Vera, is another re-purposer. In fact, she recently sent me a collection of re-use ideas I intend to try for myself.

Some of the concepts she passed on include using coffee filters in the bottom of plant pots to keep the soil from leaking out, screwing the ring-pull from a soda can to the back of a picture frame to act as a hanger and recycling egg cartons to hold Christmas decorations.

A little imagination can go a long way when it comes to stretching the usefulness of many common items we all throw away. Now if someone can just tell me how to use all these spray can caps I've been stockpiling ...



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