Mother Earth Monday – Thoughts on Repurposed Products

I suspect that a large part of why so many people are for recycling and reusing in theory, but never follow through on practice is often about aesthetics. Sure, some of it is simple laziness and the fact that the problem isn’t often in our faces, but most people love symmetry and a sense of newness.

Granted there are those who go gung-ho and toss aside the way things look in favor of repurposing as much as they can. For some of these, it is philosophical. For others this is a matter of cost cutting. We have all seen them on things like you-tube or some television shows.

They have a wild look about them many times or seem to get quickly dismissed as ‘old hippies’. Their houses of repurposed material are often unique and interesting, but also only livable to those of specific tastes. Their gardens are filled with what looks like bits of trash. Their houses are full of random unmatched items. They make videos showing you how to make something absolutely amazing, but which looks like a poorly constructed pile of garbage despite it’s wonderful use.

This isn’t always true, but it is true often enough to breed a stereotype. So this is what I am always thinking about whenever I study up on how to make something for free or nearly free. My wife, most specifically, is not keen on a house full of repurposed trash that looks like it is still trash. The more I study any given design, the more I realize that the appearance is often a choice.

The person making it is interested in the utility of the object and not the end appearance. They are taking function over form. That isn’t wrong, but it also is going to exclude a huge number of people who otherwise agree with your thoughts. Repurposing is great, but it is just too ugly for me. I know I have heard that phrase before from a few people.

So why do I bring this all up? Well, giving up form is often a choice. Not always, but usually. Just because something is made from items that were thrown out and is being made for a utilitarian purpose doesn’t mean it has to be ugly. A little extra thought and time will lead to something with a far better end appearance. In the future, when I do tutorials, I will attempt to ensure that the finished product has a clean and polished final form. This may not always be possible as some items are barely modified from the original form, but I will still always try.

What are your thoughts?

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