Before you throw that out, take a long-look!



The other day I was carrying a baby bed to the curb to toss it out. It was considered unsafe for babies. You can’t take these to Good Will or donate them anywhere else for that matter. It’s against the law. Maybe I could find a family that needed one and bypass the whole legal thing. But what if something happened to the baby who was using it. Life has become very complicated.


On the way down the driveway I noticed that it was made from oak and in pristine condition. I stopped and thought to myself. Can I toss this in the trash? In the age of recycle, repurpose, repair, reuse, and recover I felt an obligation to repurpose this thing. I turned around and headed back up the driveway, into the house, down the steps to the basement, set the bed in the corner and stared at it for a while. What can I do with this wood?


So, I started cutting it up with a jig saw. I looked through my drawers of screws and brackets and wood stains to see what I could use. I had only about half of what I would need. I went to the hardware store bought some brackets, a few screws and some decorative chain. After a few hours – Bingo! I had a brand, spanking new book case. How clever.


I hauled it into the family room and placed it in a prominent location in front of a large, wall-hanging quilt. Then Judy and I stepped back and took a long look. We folded our arms and nestled our hands under our chins. We cocked our heads one way and then the other. We walked around the object from left to right. We breathed in and then out. We hemmed and hawed. I showed it to my daughter Kim. She didn't say a word.


You can now find the bookcase in the lower level bedroom right next to the closet door. Although it is difficult to find, I wouldn’t say we were really hiding it. It is quite nice but …. Something is a bit off. On the high side I had fun doing it and it holds many more books than I thought it would. I would also argue that it is a much more interesting bookcase than the particle board shelves we bought from Menards, assembled and used for the past 10 years.

The point of this little vignette is that we shouldn’t be so quick to toss things. I suggest ‘a-long-look’ before we discard. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to Reuse, Repair or Repurpose. If you can figure something out, you have successfully reduced the carbon emissions it took to make something new.


I have enough wood left to make another bookcase. I’m still thinking about it.



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