Recycling Is Much More Than Just Saving Paper

We recycle almost everything, from paper and plastic to clothes and water. West Texas is always dry, but these last few years we’ve been in a devastating drought, with severe water restrictions that have many of us hauling buckets of gray water outside to try to save the few trees that are still hanging in there. But beyond being necessary, recycling just feels good. I like trying to figure out what I can do with things I no longer want or need. I pass along clothes and shoes, books and dryer lint. Yes: dryer lint. Artist Sandy Buffie creates portraits from dryer lint, and she loved the colorful lint left over from my dyeing adventures. Collecting and saving the lint felt wonderful, as if I were really making a difference in reducing the amount of stuff that ends up in the landfill. Sure, it was only dryer lint, but it was something, and every little bit makes a difference.


I recently gathered up all my old, un-worn jewelry. You know: the broken chains, the rings given by friends long forgotten, the earrings you once loved but that now can’t even hold their own as Vintage Pieces. Not to use the word “tacky,” of course, but there are some things you can’t believe you once wore. It’s true with shoes, and it’s true with jewelry. But what to do with all that silver and that little bit of gold? I certainly wasn’t going to throw it out, and it wasn’t enough to try to sell. And then I remembered that Kerin Rose, whose jewelry I have long admired, uses recycled metal for her gorgeous work. I contacted her, we made arrangements, I packed up all the bits and pieces and sent them to her, and I now have a collection of jewelry I love.

collection of cuff bracelets by Kerin Rose

While I adore jewelry–I love adornment of just about any kind–I have long been bothered by everything associated with diamonds. I know a little bit about diamond mining and really didn’t want to have any part of that. And, as I learned more, I realized I didn’t really want to be a part of mining of any kind. So recycling metal? Perfect! It fits in with the fabric work I love: I re-make clothes and create new garments out of old t-shirts, figuring out ways to make something fabulous out of something that would probably otherwise be thrown away. So of course I love that Kerin has found a way to create gorgeous work out of recycled material.


Challenge yourself: whatever you create, think about what kinds of usually-end-use materials you can reuse.  Painting on recycled boards, creating mosaics from broken dishes, stitching quilts from salvaged clothing. I often set myself the challenge of taking an existing garment and making it into something fabulous using only what I already have in my house. The results usually amaze me, and there’s a good chance you’ll find it’s true for you when you set yourself a similar challenge.


To read more about Kerin’s path to authenticity through recycling, check back on Wednesday for her guest post.


To get some light-hearted ideas for recycling what’s already in your house, check out Heidi Boyd’s book, Craftcycle.

Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.





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