The holidays are a tempting time to buy shiny and bright new things. Before you buy, think about reusing or borrowing from someone! I wish I were more creative or craftier.

 Resourceful decorating and creative reuse

rug made out of t-shirts
Old cotton t-shirts get a new life as a rug.

When my kids were small, garage sales became my go-to destinations for budget-friendly household décor and furnishings. Among my best finds were some inexpensive, vibrantly painted paper-maché masks. These masks — discarded creations of a high-school art class — brightened my kids’ walls for years after. Yet, these one-of-a-kind beauties could just as easily have ended up in a landfill instead of at a garage sale.Creative reuse — taking discarded, worn, or broken items and creating new products that fulfill a different, even improved, function — is not new. In fact, people have practiced creative reuse to make their money go further for centuries. An example of this is the quilt, which is traditionally made from leftover material remnants and well-worn clothing pieces.

Fortunately, you don’t need to go dumpster diving to find resource-friendly decorating items. There is a vibrant and growing reuse community in Minnesota that includes businesses that take used items and repurpose them into beautiful, saleable décor pieces. Some establishments also offer consumer workshops or classes that will teach  you how to create your own inspired pieces.

Benefits of creative reuse/upcycling

  • Conserves resources and prevents waste. When we creatively reuse things, we reduce the energy and material demands that are required to produce new products and materials. Creative reuse also helps to reduce waste by giving new life to things that might otherwise end up in the trash.
  • Significance and uniqueness. Creatively upcycled items often have interesting histories. It’s part of what makes them unique and adds to their overall value and importance. There’s satisfaction, as well, to be gained from knowing that these items can’t be found at the local big-box stores or bought online. When we value what we have, we are happier, feel less want, and don’t throw things away so readily.
  • Supports local economies. The reuse, repair, and rental community directly employs 45,500 people statewide and contributes over $10.25 billion to the estimated gross economic activity.

Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or prefer to let others do the creating for you, read on for tips on creative reuse redecorating and ways to integrate it into your own home improvement efforts.

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