Next Monday, April 22nd, is Earth Day. You can watch a short video here about the first Earth Day, which was created in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of my home state of Wisconsin! In this week leading up to the 43rd annual Earth Day, I'll be posting about topics relevant to living an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Today's post is about repurposing. Last week I told how I turned a vintage first aid box into a hidden storage spot for keys. As I started looking around my house I spotted a few other repurposed items you might like to see.

An old industrial galvanized dust pan, after thorough cleaning, has been repurposed as a handy spot to stash stationery items like cards, envelopes, postage stamps and address labels. I'm always keeping an eye out for interesting cards so that I have something on hand when a birthday or other event rolls around. With everything in one place I know exactly where to find what I need in quick order. It's also easily transportable if I want to carry it to another room. 

On my desk is a vintage glass flower frog standing in as a pen holder. I don't think I've ever actually used it for a flower arrangement but I could if I wanted to. It's made of iridescent carnival glass and looks so pretty when the sun shines on it. I often use another vintage metal stem holder as a stand to display pretty cards or photographs. 

I found an Ikea pot lid rack at the thrift store and knew it would be good for any number of uses beyond the kitchen. In this case it's been repurposed to hold a collection of pretty envelopes I made out of old calendars. I guess that's a double repurpose right there! The envelopes were too pretty to hide away in a drawer and when displayed it becomes instant art on the wall. 


Finally, a very simple idea that takes just a few seconds to put together. I took three inner embroidery hoops of the same size, picked up at the thrift store for less than a dollar, and fitted them together into a three dimensional orb. It would also look nice strung from some fish line and hung from the ceiling. You could even do a grouping of different sizes. I've been thinking of doing that and painting each of them in a different shade of the same color as a nod to the ombre design trend, nicely explained and shown in this post by Beth at Design Your Dwelling blog.

So there you have just a few ideas about how easy it can be to repurpose something in your home. And in each of these examples the original purpose of the item is still intact if need be. Whether it's because you want to keep something from the landfill or because you just want a change in decor, repurposing makes a lot of sense in an earth friendly world, and can be fun too. 



Apartment Therapy featured a post today about the plus sign showing up as a design trend this spring, in everything from textiles to big statement pieces. It looks like I'm on trend then with at least one object in my home.

I spotted this first aid box on one of my thrift store excursions awhile back. I'm always on the lookout for metal boxes because they're such versatile pieces for all kinds of storage. My first inclination was to paint it but eventually I decided I really liked its contrasting bold graphics. Plus (ha ha--no pun intended) all the first aid boxes seem to be made of plastic now so I decided to preserve its vintage character.

We have a bamboo letter holder on the wall in our kitchen where we temporarily file our mail and pending bills. At the bottom are two little hooks where we would hang miscellaneous keys we needed to keep handy. The keys were always falling off because they were stacked three deep on two little hooks. Then one day as I was picking the keys up off the floor yet again I spied the first aid box sitting over in a corner. Brainstorm! Maybe I could turn that first aid box into a key rack!

It was such an easy project-- I'm embarrassed to even call it a project. I already had some 3M Command utensil hooks on hand. A quick measure to make sure everything was properly spaced and before you know it I had a new key rack! The best part is it's camouflaged as a first aid kit! Now, if someone is suddenly spurting blood and needs a bandage they're out of luck. However they could quickly grab my car keys and drive themselves to the ER and have keys to get back in the house when they return! Otherwise no one else needs to know (except everyone who reads this post of course) that the first aid box is hiding keys instead of first aid supplies. The hooks have stayed securely in place and show no sign of coming loose. But if they ever do it's a simple fix.

The box already had handy tabs for securely hanging with a couple screws and it latches tightly shut so everything stays in place. Another plus, if I may, is the little shelf above the keys that's created by hanging it this way. (Please ignore the lath and plaster wall which is a going nowhere project in progress.)

It always makes me feel good to re-use an item and give it a new life. Better yet if it's something useful and nice to look at. I try to avoid buying things made of plastic in favor of wood, glass, metal or some other natural material. Even if an object is plastic, by buying second hand it's kept out of the landfill and no demand is made with my purchase to manufacture more of the same with precious resources and energy. The mail rack is still in use too and I no longer have to worry about falling keys every time I touch it. 

In my next post I'll show you a couple other items I'm reusing in ways different than they were originally intended. Feel free to share any re-use projects or ideas you are incorporating in your lives in the comments section below.