Refuse

In my recent post mentioning the three Rs, Textiledreamer reminded me about adding “refuse” to the beginning… a great idea as it’s best not to have that thing you don’t need in the first place. Then, as I was mulling over the concept, it dawned on me that there are two possible meanings in this context:

refuse (noun and adjective) Anything that is rejected, discarded, or thrown away; rubbish, waste, residue; household waste. The earliest citation in the OED is from around 1390.

refuse (verb) To decline to do something or to reject . The earliest citation in the OED is from around 1325.

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historically, we regarded waste (refuse) as a resource… and made beautiful things from it

So we’ve been generating refuse and refusing stuff for a long time! Of course, in terms of the Rs, we are thinking of the latter, but it’s important for us to think about refuse in terms of waste or garbage too. But, let’s not accept the idea that everything we’ve finished with or discarded has reached the end of its life. You only need to visit the monthly ScrapHappy posts to see what creative people are doing with what might be otherwise consigned to the “refuse” (the noun). In fact, perhaps we should refuse (verb) the idea of refuse (noun) and instead both avoid producing it by making long-lived, repairable items, and then consider any item that has reached the end of its life as a resource, available to be repurposed or, if all else fails, recycled.

I think that ScrapHappy Day (15th of the month for those of you who don’t already know) is my favourite blog-reading day. I love seeing the creativity, lateral thinking and sheer effort that all of you who participate put into your projects each month. I encourage any of you who don’t currently join in to consider doing so – whatever material you use, in fact the more diversity the better. If you do want to join in, get in touch with Kate over at Tall Tales from Chiconia and she will add you to the list of participants and send you a reminder a few days before the date that posts are due.

In the meantime, tell me how you are cutting down on refuse and what you are refusing.

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8 Comments

  1. These days, we all have so much that I think we’ve lost the habit of extracting the maximum benefit from it; things are rarely worn out before they’re thrown away, and repairing is a lost art. Thank you for pointing your readers at ScrapHappy; maybe we can encourage more people to look at their excess and discards with a new eye, and refuse refuse 🙂 I hope for some new and creative uses of scrap anything!

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  2. I certainly apply that mantra to food as I use all of the animal, vegetable or fruit personally not so much with household goods although I know I should and almost certainly it is applied by many here where I live. Thais are very resourceful born out of poverty and the need to be I think mostly…I am looking forward to taking inspiration from Scrap Happy Day 🙂

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  3. You could therefore add re-fuse to the list, in that you use the discarded things to fuse with others bits and bobs to make something great!
    At the moment I think my big focus is on using the stuff I have acquired over many years rather than being enticed by marketing types into buying more stuff. Refusing myself is probably the hardest part! Having thought I really need a new hat for son’s wedding and meant it, in the end I realised I was being ridiculous and wore the one I had worn once to first son’s wedding.

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  4. There’s been more than one occasion when I’ve refused to buy something I needed/wanted at the store because of the gross amount of plastic packaging that encased it. As for refuse (noun) we have monthly garbage service at my house and the bin is rarely more than a third full.

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    • They collect our garbage once every two weeks, but soon it will be once every three weeks – people are up in arms, but I think that we will hardly notice!

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      • I can imagined! We have the option of biweekly, but there’s no point in it for us. Hard to believe the other households whose garbage is overflowing every two weeks for their service.

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  1. The battle of the bags | The Snail of Happiness

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