I once took a course at the local community center on conservation and recycling. I thought it was the appropriate thing to do. I already separate plastic bottles and aluminum cans in my trash, but I never knew that you could repurpose so many things at home. Now I thoroughly believe in double duty. Most of what we learned was to reupholster old furniture, fix broken caning on chairs, to replate old silverware for years of additional use, and to make sculptures with wire hangers and small tools. If anything could find a new home in the garden, I would be thrilled. It is my personal paradise as it attracts many beloved butterflies. I spend a lot of time fixing it up. An old metal coffee table (sanded and repainted green) became a garden seat so I could rest my legs during my hours of observation. This happened at certain times of the years when the butterflies were visiting. Some old can lights from the den became outdoor fixtures complete with colored lamps. It made for a mighty pretty environment.
The recycling didn’t end here. A new addition to the outdoor space was part of an old tank from a defunct water heater. It died an untimely death, but in keeping with what I learned about conservation, I wasn’t about to toss it away to become fodder for the overfilled junkyard. That would not be very green of me. I am now an environmentalist to the bone. After pruning the top of the tank down several feet, I had a readymade, perfectly utilitarian garden receptacle. Given the price of large ceramic pots, I was glad to save the money and still get ample space for some trailing flowers. They would grow like a vine and cover most of the white tank. Every time I go out into the garden, I am on Water Heater Watch, looking for butterflies in the flowers that I planted in the old unit. I thought about painting it, but changed my mind. I wanted people who visited my garden to give me credit for my ingenuity. I must tell the conservation course instructor to add this idea to her extensive recycling list. Who knew that a water heater could be a planter?
I now have a tankless water heater and despite of my newfound conservation orientation, I don’t see any way to reuse it when its time has come and gone. But I could hardly have purchased a bulky tank water unit again. I have already repurposed its space and have put in shelves for storage. I will no doubt find many other things to recycle and find a new life. It is a great way to promote family craft time. Each family member can look around the house and find things to refashion into something decorative or useful. Get out the wire cutters, glue, saw, and screwdriver. Add some colored construction paper and crayons for the little ones. The winner gets a prize. Just be sure little Johnny doesn’t raid mom’s makeup kit or little Susie doesn’t take the dog’s collar.