What Gems Can Be Uncovered Here?

THE NEW ART OF REUSE

Finding Gems on the Curb

Like most everyone, my habits have changed somewhat since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. I’ve been reexamining past behavior and developing new and hopefully better ways of living. I’ve worked from home for many years, so that adjustment was in some ways uneventful. What was different is that now I’m not the only person at home. My wife, a college professor, has been working from home since mid-March, and our daughter, a college student, finished her semester online at home. My in-laws live with us. In the past they would be gone for long stretches of the day shopping and hiking. But now, they stay close to home, fixing our meals and doing online grocery shopping.

My wife and I have always tried to walk on a daily basis. But because she has been at home, we are doing it more frequently, sometimes three times per day (and even our daughter joins us occasionally). Because we have little expectation that we will be back to normal soon, we are accepting of the reality that we need to hunker down and consider resources close to home. We are both “project” people: she is into major construction and woodworking, and I am more into gardening. For her to build a table or cabinet is just the normal course of things. She’s quite good at it. She’s finishing up a shed/office for our backyard. For me, I’ve come to appreciate the reflective and relaxing power of gardening, mostly flowers. A few years back I set up a front yard garden which I placed close to the sidewalk, allowing passersby to appreciate it.

Now that summer is here, we continue to work on projects around the house. Because much of what is done requires lumber, lately we have been finding our supplies from what other neighbors are leaving out by the curb for pick up. My wife in particular gets excited to find someone leaving a “pressure treated 2 x 4” that she can use. I’m glad to pick up something for my garden: last week someone left out lava rocks that would be used in an outside grill. For me, they worked nicely as decoration in my garden.

We have always been recyclers by trying to repurpose our own stuff. Now, we see ourselves recycling other people’s disposables. It’s a rather good feeling, though I can’t help feeling a bit guilty about benefiting from someone’s unintended generosity!

This is certainly a positive and environmentally beneficial outcome of the crisis. Once we get back to normal, could the new normal include an effort to recycle more, thereby using less resources, creating less environmental destruction, and valuing the importance of the transformation of discarded items? Let’s hope so.

Peacebuilder, Career Coach, Educator, NGO president