top of page

It starts with a handful of lint

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Today, I gathered up the handful of lint I've been collecting on top of the dryer. I put the lint back and felt inspired to write. I almost threw it away in the trash. "What uses are there for lint?" (I'll share some links at the end of this post for other lint uses).

Then the lint question led to bigger questions and ideas about rethinking what goes in the trash. For me it's a personal quest in my life to make things multipurpose and repurposed. That's why I wrote and illustrated the children's book Making Monster Soup. If I have run out of room since we now live in a 2-bedroom town home and can't use something but it still works then I turn to posting it on Nextdoor for free. I do what I can to keep stuff out of the landfill. Landfills are not infinite.

A lot of folks rarely hide their disgust/confusion/dislike for my desire to save good items put out on the curb for trash or to repurpose stuff instead of throwing it away. My younger son rolls his eyes and asks me not to take some thing like an old wooden box, painted canvas, or plant on the curb for someone else's trash pickup. My older son shares the passion for repurposing stuff on the curb or in the home. He's rescued a tuba case from a riverbed and even asked the high school where it originated if it wanted it back (it didn't). He even got scolded more than once in grade school by his teachers for pulling something like a good pen or eraser or stack of papers out of the trash.

Let's unpack what I've said so far since I can sense some readers are horrified or concerned. Wanting to save/repurpose stuff is not always hoarding. Our current society is quick to say someone is a hoarder. I'm not going to elaborate on what constitutes a hoarder though. But I will proudly declare that I am a granddaughter of people who lived through the depression. Some of those people learned that things are not disposable, single use like we treat so many things now. When we cleaned up my grandmother's home for sale after she'd moved to be near us, we found cabinets full of used but clean foil, bread bags, old Ziplocs. I believe too that these things should be re-used if possible. I've gotten to where I hesitate and generally avoid using my stash of clean Ziplocs. I can't clean used Ziplocs to my satisfaction. So, I bet you're still not convinced. You're thinking Beth is a hoarder. But I don't keep lots of stuff. Mostly because I hate to dust. I rotate, recycle, give away, and donate often. I just can't bear to throw much away.

Back to Nextdoor or other sites that let you post free stuff. Before you throw away a paint can with some decent paint left, or baskets that just collect dust, or books you don't want anymore, please think about sending them anywhere but the trash. When we had to replace our bathroom vanity, I didn't want to throw away the cultured marble top vanity. I took a picture and posted it on Nextdoor. It moved that same day. I didn't post my address except through messaging. I made it clear that I would NOT help move the item or answer my door. As an aside, I know how dangerous it is to manufacture cultured marble (silicosis for many who exposed to its dust during manufacture). I kept a new one from being manufactured for someone else and let someone use the one I couldn't reuse.

Then a bigger idea too is thinking about stuff that goes to landfills in your community but could get rerouted to people who need, want, or could use but can't afford it. I've been a school volunteer for years. One way to help teachers and schools would be to create a clearing house of the stuff teachers need to throw away at the end of the year.

You would be shocked and saddened (or at least I was) by the huge volumes of good stuff going into trash cans. They don't have a lot of time or storage. And schools don't have the storage either. Summers are deep cleaning periods. So those mugs, utensils, workbooks, notebooks, plastic boxes, etc. could go to other teachers at the start of the next school year.

Way too many teachers buy stuff for their classrooms out of their own wallet. This clearing house idea might help them.

Or if teachers don't need them then offer them to families with kids in the community that don't go to the library. There are way too many kids that don't have a regularly rotating collection of books at home. But the TV is on. Or the internet. We "talk" about the importance of reading, but what do we do to support it locally beyond our own home?

Thrift shops might be able to use your support as a volunteer. Don't end up being one of the people who sends torn, stained clothes to them. There's one thrift shop here locally that divides its donations into two stores. One is boutique level. The other sells less desirable items a few days out of the month at fire sale prices - 25 or 50 cents.

I challenge you to take a more open and positive attitude toward refraining from throwing something away in the trash too quickly. Not everyone has time or energy to do a yard or garage sale. And not everything can get donated to places. Think a bit on what might not need to go into the trash. And maybe make it a game with the children in your life too?

Here's the sites I came across for creative things to do with lint:

I hope you'll share your ideas for repurposing and recycling items that might not need to go in the trash!

23 views2 comments
bottom of page