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The Concept of Repurposing

Breathing new life into the old or obsolete to create a fresh start

A friend asked me to create a blog post on sustainability. Having no ideas on the spot, I thought to eat lunch first then start writing about the first thing that came to my mind. Lunch was leftover Chinese food from the day before eaten out of an old butter container. I kept staring at the container in search of ideas and then I thought, funny how this container has been repurposed.

To reduce waste and combat environmental pollution, people every day are thinking of new ways to reuse old stuff. From creating backpacks out of old plastic bags in South Africa to re-fashioning old wooden crates into indoor furniture in Sweden. Repurposing on a personal scale is not something we do very often. The idea is that most materials be they physical or digital in nature are only for their intended use. Understandably some materials are single-use only and should never be repurposed. I wouldn’t use a Duracell battery for any other intended purpose that stated by the manufacturer so as to avoid hazardous effects from doing so. But what about that empty soda bottle or an old glasses case? Anyone of these items can be rechanneled into a use other than that intended. Empty soda bottles can be cut in half with the top portion used as a funnel and the bottom, used to hold pens, or in my case combs and hair brushes. Old glasses cases can be used to store nail clippers, USB drives, chapsticks or other small everyday items that are essential but difficult to find especially when we are in a hurry.

Repurposing requires imagination. Any item can be repurposed if we can only see beyond its possibilities. I would always keep my old prescription bottles that contained capsules and wash them thoroughly for use as storage containers to hold my lotion or toner during holidays or work trips. My family would always make fun of me but guess who they come to should they need Vaseline (i.e., ME). Digital material can be repurposed as well. Although a bit tricky, it is possible to read that article on crafting a healthy diet as a way of creating good mood food or learning new cooking skills. In the case of written media, it’s about creating your own version of what the words mean to you. For instance, this article could be a call to action for you to repurpose more or it could be translated as a suggestion to be cheap. Another method to repurpose written media would be to create videos or voice recordings such as podcasts based on previously written words. This way, the information stays relevant and is given a fresh coat.

Think about materials that can benefit from a repurpose. Whether in your office or at home, ignore the urge to dispose but repurpose and thus see what so many things are capable of.

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