Confessions of a Packrat

2016-06-01 15.19.52 HDRWhen the kids were young, we used to regularly visit Creative Junk, a place that sells all manner of industrial off cuts, overruns, and misprints, along with household ‘junk’ like plastic tubs, fabric scraps, broken tiles, and empty jars. It was a great place to get cheap materials for the kids’ creations (you know, those 3-year-old constructions of dubious artistic merit—the ones that end up in the rubbish a couple of days later).

On one of those trips, I scored a roll of heavy clear vinyl for myself. I didn’t know what I’d use it for, but it struck me as a handy thing to have.

That vinyl has sat unused in my office for eight years. It’s always a little too heavy or a little too small for anything I might want it for. More than once I considered tossing it (or donating it back to Creative Junk). But getting rid of it required more work than just leaving it in the back of the cupboard, so it just stayed there.

This past weekend, I noticed that rain was getting into the chicken coop. A crack at the back of the hinged lid over the nesting boxes had gotten wider with age, and was now letting water stream right into the nesting boxes.

I needed something to block the crack without preventing the nest box lid from lifting. Something waterproof, stiff enough to not blow in the wind, but flexible enough to bend with the lid.

My roll of vinyl was exactly the material for the job.

I worried the piece wouldn’t be long enough, but found it was exactly the right length, and exactly twice as wide as I needed, so after cutting it, I had a piece to put on the coop, and a perfect replacement, if the first doesn’t hold up long-term.

And this, of course, is the reason I have a cupboard full of little bits of this and that in my office; and a pile of leftover bits of spouting, flashing, and pipe out behind the shed; and a stack of not-entirely-rotted fenceposts; and three rolls of used deer fencing; and an old bed frame; and…

Eventually, nearly everything comes in handy. Nearly everything can be reused, often more than once. There are half a dozen boards under my firewood right now, keeping it off the wet ground, that are on their third lifetime—they were once a porch roof, then a tree house, and now protect the firewood. Between uses, they were slated for the rubbish, but ended up being reused before we got around to hiring a trailer to take them to the tip.

I’ve grumbled more than once about the lack of rubbish pick-up here, but I often think it does more good than harm. The more difficult it is to get rid of things, the more creative we become in reusing them.

That’s got to be good—for our finances, and for the environment.

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