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Springtime brings second chances

<p>Springtime is here again, and with it the annual tradition of cleaning house. But that doesn’t have to mean bag after bag of garbage.</p>


Old items can be reused: Author


Springtime is here again, and with it the annual tradition of cleaning house. But that doesn’t have to mean bag after bag of garbage.





Given fears of a recession and worries about overflowing landfills, there’s new incentive to find second lives for many household items.





“We can’t afford to keep living disposable lives,” said Lori Baird, a co-author of Don’t Throw It Out: Recycle And Reuse To Make Things Last, a compendium from Yankee magazine. “It makes sense for all of us to be more careful about how we spend money.”





Some of Baird’s favourite tips include using wire racks from an old refrigerator as cooking racks for baked goods, and donating old towels to animal shelters, which use them for dog baths.





But not everything can be salvaged. Baird warns against reusing items such as children’s car seats, which have expiration dates because of frequent changes in safety features. “If there’s ever a question of safety involved in reusing an object, I’d say don’t do it,” Baird said in an e-mail.





For everything else, repurposing often requires a little washing up and a touch of imagination. The next time you’re contemplating giving something the old heave-ho, here are some tips to give it new use.






OLD DISHES, NEW PLANTER





Filling large outdoor planters with soil for a small plant can be costly. Pieces of a broken clay pot or ceramic dish help drainage and prop up undersized plants. Place shards at the bottom of a large pot until almost half the pot is full. Add a layer of plastic foam pieces or a mixture of gravel or pebbles and then fill with potting soil.






OLD BRANCHES, NEW DECOR





If you’re trimming trees to prepare for the growing season or cleaning the yard, save long fallen twigs or branches that are in good condition. Tie in a bunch and let dry completely in the garage. Spray-paint them in white, silver or gold and display in a vase or large urn as indoor decorations.






OLD MAILING TUBES, NEW WINE RACK





ReadyMade, a savvy Do-It-Yourself magazine, suggests making a wine rack with mailing tubes and an old milk carton crate from your college dorm years (or a box that’s at least 30 centimetres in depth). Measure the depth of the crate and cut the tubes to this length with sharp scissors. Stack the tubes in the crate and turn the crate on its side on a flat surface. Each cubby hole can fit a wine bottle. Be sure to store the crate in a dry, cool area.






OLD PENS, NEW SILVERWARE





Forks, spoons and knives with broken handles can get new bodies from old pens, according to Jaspal Marwah and Sarah Hunt of Vancouver, winners of ReadyMade’s MacGyver Challenge. To make their pen cutlery, discard everything inside the pen except its tube and cap. Fill the tube with hot glue, shove in the heads of the cutlery, and let dry.






OLD SHOWER CURTAIN, NEW GRILL COVER





Got a stained or tired shower curtain? Baird suggests using it as a waterproof cover for outdoor furniture or a grill.






OLD PAPERWORK, NEW DOG BED





Shredded paperwork from your home or office shredder, small rugs or bath mats, and old towels can be donated to local animal shelters. The paper and bath mats make beds for dogs and cats, and towels are needed to wash animals.






OLD PANTYHOSE, NEW BROOM





Revitalize an old broom by covering the bristles with ruined pantyhose. The nylon’s static will attract lint and small dust particles as you sweep.


 
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