Friday, October 31, 2014

Hatch Creative-Reuse Art Festival Application Deadline Extended

For those in the Champaign-Urbana area of Illinois, applications for THE I.D.E.A. Store's Hatch Creative-Reuse Art Festival are due by November 16, 2014. The deadline has been extended. Hatch will consist of a juried Art Exhibition on February 28 to March 14, 2015, and an Art Fair on March 14, 2015. Items in the exhibition must be made from at least 75% reused materials. Items for sale at the fair must be at least 50% reused.

For more information, see

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Re-Solutions

We're on the brink of a brand new year, but as we consider our resolutions, let's try to make the year one of the few "brand new" things we look forward to. Make some "re-solutions" instead of "resolutions" by resolving to reuse items and materials as much as possible in 2013. If you no longer have a use for something, donate it, sell it, or give it to a friend or relative who can benefit from it. Need something you don't already have? Look around at what you DO have and try to come up with a way to re-make your current under-used possessions into the "new" item that you need or want. If that turns out not to be possible, try to find what you're looking for at a thrift store, or online from a previous owner. Consider sharing items that you only use some of the time with friends and neighbors instead of owning something exclusively. Investigate how to recycle or donate most, if not all, of the items you might normally consider trash. There really are companies that will take just about anything--from old hole-ridden clothes, to used shoes, to your old furniture--I'll write about some of these options in the coming weeks and months. Try your hand at composting to turn even your food scraps into something new.

However you decide to approach the challenge, do your best to find as many ways to reuse in 2013 as possible. Our resources truly are precious; it can be so easy to forget that living in a privileged nation where most of us have want we need. Always remember that not all of us do in this world, and that if we do not value what we have been given, the day may come all too soon when resources that were once plenty are scarce. Show your gratitude for what we have by refusing to see any of it as waste. "Waste" is a failure of the imagination, a misnomer, a miscategorization. Be more imaginative in 2013. Seek out new friends, new experiences, new memories, new hopes, new dreams, new ways of looking at things, but not new things.

Peace, and Happy New Year! ~ Joy S.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Cap-tivating Whistles

People who know me well know that I have a minor obsession with, and modest hoard of, metal bottle caps. I just can't toss them into the trash, or even the recycling bin. I love the different designs and colors that can are printed on them, and their size and composition mean they can be easily repurposed into lots of things. I've used them to decorate bird houses and make magnets. I've glued them together and attached floral wire to make Christmas tree ornaments. When I make Christmas tree ornaments out of old painted light bulbs, I sometime use them for "hats" on the snowmen, penguins, Santas, etc. that I paint. I've used them as mini paint pots when my kids are making art and need just a little bit of paint from a big jug o' paint. They make great mosaic fodder. They can be made into beads and other jewelry. They can adorn belts. I've even seen them turned into cool fishing lures. And now that spring has sprung, and I'm outside listening to my glass wind chimes, I'm itching to try making some bottle cap wind chimes.

But I would never have thought of the application I just came across, and it may be just about the coolest bottle cap reuse yet. Loran Scruggs uses bottle caps and pieces from old tins to make working whistles. Check out her Etsy store at The use of the caps for the whistle sides shows off the artwork on them. I'm delighted to see some of the same caps I've saved because of the unique animals or other graphics used in her whistles. My kids would recognize them as matching some of our Christmas tree ornaments. She even has a whistle with one of my favorite caps--an owl from Hitachino Nest Beer--as her profile image. I have bought that beer just to get more of those caps (it's not bad beer, but the cap is the real draw for me). Now I desperately want some of her whistles for me and the kiddos. If I ever decide to unload some of my cap hoard, I may have to see if she would accept them. Reuse, bottle caps, and kid friendly items--this makes me smile.

Loran's other items include toys and art made from caps, tins (like old Altoid tins), and cans. Very creative!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sale Ends Never

All items 100% off, sale ends never--one can imagine the radio and t.v. commercials that might be used to promote the Brooklyn Free Store, an interesting concept and location where items can be taken for free or dropped off for someone else to use. Read Colin Moynihan's article in the 8/15/10 edition of the New York Times for the full story.

I love this idea. It reminds me a bit of what we do in smaller cities and towns when we put something out on the curb with a sign that says "FREE" and hope someone who needs the item snags it before the trash haulers come. It also is reminiscent of online swapping services like Freecycle, but there is something about having a physical place to go and browse that I think is valuable. Sometimes you don't know what you need or want until you see it, or maybe your desire isn't major enough for you to search for it online, but if it was in front of you and free, you could take it and consider yourself lucky. Plus, it may be that seeing this sort of give and take community spirit in person is what is necessary to inspire folks to set their unwanted items free, as indicated by the person in the NYT article who left a reusable tote bag at the Free Store in order to feel he was involved.

At any rate, I wish every town had a store like this one.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fine Art Fridges Make Reuse Art Cool

ComEd is sponsoring a display of reuse art involving old refrigerators along the Magnificent Mile in Chicago through September 15, 2010, as a way of promoting their refrigerator recycling program.

Check out the coverage of this display and the ComEd program in Waste & Recycling News and on WGN.

The "VooDoo Hot Rod" shown in the WGN video clip is my personal favorite.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Time for Reuse

Kudos to the Finger Lakes ReUse Inc.'s eCenter program and the Ithaca Youth Bureau's Computer All Stars program for offering a workshop in which participants can dismantle an old computer and use salvaged parts from it to make their own clock. Space is limited for this workshop scheduled for June 26, 2010 and a $5 registration fee will be charged. For more information, see the Finger Lakes ReUse web site.

Talk about making time for reuse! Turn too much e-waste on your hands into too much time on your hands. Save time in a bottle while saving time from a landfill. I could sit here coming up with groan-worthy phrases all day, but thankfully, I won't. :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Green Thumbs in More Ways Than One

The kids and I are slowly but surely starting to get our garden planted and ready for production all by ourselves this year, and are already reaping the benefits of our lovely strawberry patch. The fruit trees are going crazy, and if I don't get all those little peaches thinned somehow in all my extra time (ha, ha), they're never going to produce properly. But that's another story.

We like to practice reuse in as many aspects of our lives as possible, and gardening is no exception. We have a couple large compost piles, which seems like the most obvious way to practice reuse while gardening. If you're interested in starting your own compost pile or learning more about the process, check out and the resources provided on traditional and vermicomposting (using worms) from the University of Illinois Extension program.

But beyond the obvious, have you ever considered reusing containers for pots, making your own pots from reused materials, reusing containers to protect your seedlings, or other ideas? Check out this recent post from RecycleBank, written by Diane MacEachern for more ideas, as well as tips on how to recycle gardening materials and eco-friendly gardening products. Also check out these ideas for repurposing materials for pots offered by Better Homes and Gardens.

Do you have a favorite example of reuse in the garden that you'd like to share? Tell me about it in the comments section for this post.