Saturday, April 11, 2009

The power of collective creativity for greener living

Earlier this week, my work day started poorly and did not improve. I was running later than I wanted leave for work and then when I stopped for gas and sat back in my car, my pants ripped in a fashion that was both catastrophic and unable to be disguised. Since I was on my way to work and only a few minutes from home, I called in my wardrobe malfunction and went home to change. My colleagues made me feel better as they shared their own stories but I was still left with a pair of pants that were unusable as pants but still had plenty of life in them. So what could I do with the fabric?

I had a couple ideas that included using it to sew doll clothing or create a rag rug. One of my colleagues suggested cutting the pants up for rags, but that is what I use worn out socks and underwear for. I have been accumulating denim from jeans that I plan to sew a rug using strips of denim. The twill pants could be used for this purpose as well. However, I decided to turn to the Web and see what I could find.

I discovered a cool Web site titled How can I recycle this? When I was looking at uses for ripped pants, I found this entry on torn trousers. Being curious, I explored the site and found a treasure trove of information offered by other people on how to reuse various items including burnt matches, old teddy bears, toothbrushes and empty paint cans. The search function helps you find what you are interested in. Furthermore, there is a link to a Web site that answers the question whether an item is compostable or not for your biodegradable edification.

I am always looking for ways to improve my green living. By finding suggestions for reusing items most people would throw away, I can decrease my footprint. Use the Recycle This Web site to help you figure out what to do with your worn out or seemingly unusable items.


  1. I love this site. I've been reading and had the best intent of commenting more but real life has interfered. Plus I've been trying to go back thru your earlier postings.

    I bookmarked the recycling site also. There are lots of great ideas there. Luckily I can sew so I see many possibilities. I hope to retire at the end of next year's school year and can really take off on all those projects then.

    One idea I did not see mentioned on the recycling site was redesigning promotional bags. For example, several years ago Staples was giving a few things away to teachers in a great pink cotton bag but the Staples logo was on the side. I found some matching fabics in my closet and simply made a quilted patch to cover the logo. With just a bit of effort I had a carefully crafted bag. I used it till it wore thru the bottom and could be repaired no more.

    We received some canvas bags when we went on a cruise several years ago. I intend to cover the store/travel agency logo with similar patchwork. I just realized they would make great grocery bags, with some added style.

  2. I love that website! Funny, this morning, I was transferring my (heavy) wet laundry from the bathtub to the line outside and my cheap plastic laundry basket cracked. My immediate reaction was "dang, I'll have to toss it" (how engrained is our thinking??); but your post got me to that website and I have tonnes of ideas for it. I'm just going to pull out the trusty duct tape to mend the cracks, tie some cord around it so it will act as a shoulder strap, line it with one of my old toilet paper packs (your idea too) and carry it with me while I'm cleaning the lawn today! There are so many little branches all over the place, but a rake won't get them all because they get all tangled, so this works perfectly. Cool huh? Thanks for getting my brain going! :-)

  3. @KateT,

    Thank you for your kind words about my posts. That recycling site is quite comprehensive isn't it? Are you excited about retiring next year? I can only dream of such things.

    Your idea on how disguise the commercial bags is quite creative. I will have to remember it for the future.


    You are so right about just wanting to toss things. It is infinitely more difficult to think what else to do with an item other than consigning it to a landfill. I like your solution though, using several items to create one useful item. Of course, duct tape is the handyman's (and handywoman's) secret weapon.