Before you bin

ARE YOU someone who believes in regular binning of unwanted paper, cardboard, and the other odds and ends? If you are it means you would like to keep your home tidy and make room for creative occupation. You also might not want your closet all packed with junk. But you wouldn't know something may come off the junk, and if you did, you would regret binning.

Waste management

Take a good look at how you can make use of waste: old paper, dried flowers and leaves can make for a greeting card and the pencil shaving, the d�cor on the card; clean coconut shells can be transformed into kumkum holders, dolls, and faces; dolls can come out of broken funnels, used gift wrappers, old cloth, waste cotton, leftover wool, and grains; bathroom rugs can be plaited from old cotton saris and torn dhotis; handbags can be made from sugar and rice bags, and waste wool can lend an alluring embroidery; festival mantaps come out of waste thermocol with the glossy, used gift wrappings serving as decorative covers; small mantaps from used ice-cream sticks; captivating miniatures from seashells; and plastic sachets from palm oil washed and designed into flowers. Lots more really.

Recycling waste

Vijayalakshmi Mahabaleshwar, a homemaker, tells us how. She believes in salvaging something out of anything ready to be binned. "It boils down to how imaginative one can be. And it depends on how much you value money. Creativity automatically flows when you feel the pinch of money." Meaning, for her, nothing counts for waste.

Drop into her house and you'll see a range of artefacts lovingly created from articles that have seen their time. Crafted items from coconut shells, seashells, and stuffed dolls decorate the sideboards; garlands made from plastic sachets beautify the deities adorning the walls; wall hangings made from thermocol with a dash of embroidery done from leftover thread embellish the walls.

Revathi Viswanathan, also a homemaker, is equally eager to put trash to good use. "My tryst with recycling came about owing to my nature. I cannot bear to throw anything unless I am convinced that it cannot be utilised for any purpose." That is why you find her unravelling frayed sweaters, washing the wool to make new ones with new designs. A little deity in her pooja room captures the eye with its colourful presence. Did she make it? I wonder aloud. Sure she did. "My mother simply gave me its brass face. Not having the heart to let it lie, I attached a couple of sticks to the body and made a dress out of an old sari." What about the jewellery? "That is from my daughter's and grand-daughter's discarded costume jewellery collection." As for that wall hanging made out of a 2000-piece puzzle, "I picked that up from my son's house in the U.S. He had junked it. I thought it would make a good wall decoration." It does. That is not all. Cushion covers made from leftover cloth and old curtains discarded by her children cut to size to make fresh ones vie for attention. A pretty wooden stand made from broken pieces is helping her kitchen; shelves made from old wooden drawers provide storage space in the bathrooms.

Get creative

"There was a time when I used to make little bowls from waste paper and fenugreek seeds." How would that be possible? "I grind soaked paper and fenugreek into fine paste and paste it on to a bowl. Once the paste dries, you can paint on it. You will find the bowl very attractive then. You can keep odds and ends too."

Colourful bags and rugs made from recycled paper and cloth

Colourful bags and rugs made from recycled paper and cloth  

Her innovation extends to the kitchen too. She uses orange peels to make sambar, lemon peels to make pickles, vegetable peels to make chutney, and leftover curries combined to make another curry!

Anytime you think of throwing out something you think is not of much use, you could first ask yourself whether it really is the case. Apply your mind, think of possibilities until you exhaust all. A safe bet would be that something could come off things that look useless.

Waste into utility

For a start, you could call Vijayalakshmi at 26594049 or Revathi at 26491054.

And if you are convinced that the end result has made anything look better, your home, office, room, or even your car, you could do more of waste-into-utility work and you can spread the word. You could even get someone to do it. Recycling makes a lot of difference not just to ecology but will also get someone to work.


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