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There are three main reasons why I am obsessed with re-use or better use:
* I am on a quest to see value where others do not – It’s the most interesting type of puzzle to me.
* I want every act to be a form of justice – There are too many people who live without their basic needs met. If we were more careful about the bounty around us, they would have more just lives.
* I am a Maker – My hands and heart are happiest when I am making things. In my career, I help my clients become more innovative and have clearer marketing messages with my business, Press the Go Button. While I love this work, I also yearn to make real tangible things more often. Organizing my sewing table and completing a project is my best form of relaxation.
I understand that there are more impactful ways to save the earth, such as energy conservation, being vegetarian, fighting for climate legislation and not owning a car. For me though, re-use is the most interesting way to address issues of conservation.
Now that’s the serious side of it, but really, I just love figuring out how to make fun stuff from trash!
Trashmagination is the Cohesive Force of My Life
As I walk around my home, everything I love the most is related to re-use. My quilts, my rugs, my fabric collection – these are obvious. I also treasure the gifts I have received that rewarded re-use innovation. Everything else just seems less interesting.
One of the tricks that I use every day is to seek a different answer. If I am asked to fulfill something at work for example, I think “what would be an unexpected way to fulfill that request?” If there is no room for different answers, it is not interesting work to me.
I came up with the term “trashmagination” when I heard the quote “Trash is the failure of imagination,” attributed to Aaron Kramer from Urban Objects. Perhaps that sounds like a downer statement and a few people have said to me, “well, then I must be an idiot!” Yes, this sentence emphasizes failure, but it also speaks to possibility, because I know our imaginations are unlimited!
Trashmagination Makes Me a Better Parent
If you are not a professional artist, but you love collecting “trash” items and transforming them into beautiful things, some folks might think you are odd. I have found that if you do these activities with your children, people think that makes total sense. Kids love to make things, whether from an old milk jug or cardboard box.
My kids are naturally curious about my recycling projects. My daughter in particular loves to contribute ideas. It gives us something we enjoy together. You can see us on our many adventures at a website I made earlier in my career called National Wildlife Federation’s Family Fun. My kids and I have photographed hundreds of activities for this website.
What Got Me First Interested in Trashmagination?
My mom is an avid secondhand store shopper, but I don’t like shopping. While I did watch her find many treasures, the moment that really clicked was when I was 15 years old and I went to school in British Columbia at Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific. During one fall break, I spent a week on Hornby Island, which is a garbage-free island. I worked in the Hornby recycling center. I lived with a local resident whose home was based on re-use. For example, the door handles were all driftwood. When you got groceries at the local store, you brought your own pottery to pour in the honey and other bulk items. For a Halloween party, we made our costumes from items in nature and things we found at the recycling center. They had a “free store,” long before I had heard of Freecycle. It was a magical week, and I was forever changed. My friend Lilian and I went back to school and helped build an industrial-sized composter there.