About 4 years ago I started to focus on a reuse life, inspired by my participation in ‘Buy Nothing New Month’. I haven’t yet mastered it, but LM is certainly used to buying from opshops instead of shopping centres and I estimate that we buy at least 90% of our material goods secondhand. In the past month we have taken our reuse life up a notch and started focusing not only only reusing goods, but also restoring them and reusing the materials they are made from.
Our latest project began when I asked our nearby opshop if they would give us the clothing items that they can’t sell. Since then LM and I have collected a ‘nanna trolley’s’ worth of goods each week. These collections have led to many spontaneous discussions ranging from fast fashion to the difference between fashion and style as well as around ethical consumption and respect of natural resources and waste. My inner-hippy-mumma reigns in these moments.
Having this wealth of material on hand has led to many unexpected homeschool lessons around design and construction. Last week we decided to make plaited rugs. LM has done most of the plaiting and in watching her I realised that doing so develops mindfulness, patience, delayed gratification and skill development. I cut the t-shirt but LM did everything after that, from rolling the yarn balls through to plaiting and teaching her friends how to plait them as well. We found that there were parts of the t-shirt that we couldn’t use in the plaits so some of those remnants were cut into small rectangles and knotted onto a rag rug. Even more scraps remained, so we bought a vintage leather footstool (originally from Jerusalem) and we are gradually stuffing it with the last shreds of the t-shirts.
Like many families we struggle with the lure of the small screen so we have developed a new house rule that if the iPad is on we put it on a stand, leaving our hands free so we can remain active. I have also introduced a range ways to actively view tv and movies by analysing the story, by drawing elements of it or writing personal reflections inspired by it. In just one week I have seen the screen increasingly (but not entirely) become background noise as the focus has shifted from passive to active engagement. The rag rugs have been a lovely way staying active and interacting even while we watch our Friday night movie together.
In the next few days we will continue our reuse theme by watching the amazing animation ‘the story of stuff’ and LM is keen to create a French inspired, reuse ‘capsule wardrobe’ that includes some items that she has hand dyed, designed and helped sew (using old fabric) – this kid loves Paris and Design so I think this will be the perfect way to wrap up our own story of stuff.
Now I must go, as I have a fabric knotting addiction that needs attention.