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What Is Repurposing?

Furniture may be repurposed into shelving.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Image By: Wicker Paradise
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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Repurposing is a form of recycling that is focused on finding new uses for items that are already present in the home, rather than discarding them. The idea of repurposing can include making modifications to the items or simply finding a new ways to use the item without changing any of the physical aspects. Here are some examples of how repurposing can be used around the home to good advantage.

One of the most common ways to repurpose is to make use of old clothing. This time-honored method can take several forms. One approach is to pass shirts, pants, and other clothes on to someone else when the original owner no longer wishes to wear the clothing. Families often employ this approach by passing on clothing that children have outgrown to younger kids or to friends or relatives who can in turn make use of those items.

However, it is also possible to make use of repurposed clothing by changing the style and function of a garment. For example, a pair of denim jeans that are worn at the knees can be cut off into a pair of shorts for wear around the house. The remaining portions of the legs that are in good condition can be used to create simple hot pads for use in the kitchen, or as a material in craft projects, such as the creation of denim covered picture frames.

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The same general principle applies to furnishings. A small rectangular kitchen table can be repainted or refinished to make a simple desk for a den or child’s room. That same table can be turned into a coffee table by simply cutting the legs down to an appropriate height. Old waterbed headboards can sometimes be detached from the frame and used as decorative shelving. By altering the physical properties, repurposed furniture can take on a whole new life and provide many more years of service.

There are other forms of repurposing that may find use in settings outside the home. Content repurposing is a common practice with sales and marketing campaigns. Rather than discard ad copy that has proven effective in the past, that copy may be reworked and used to launch a new campaign. Reusing the old copy in a new way and with a few changes saves a great deal of time and money, as well as creating a bridge between what consumers are already familiar with and what advertisers hope will capture the attention and interest of old and new customers alike.

Even medications are subject to repurposing. Often, drugs that are developed to treat a particular illness are later found to be effective with other conditions. One example would be the drug budeprion. Developed as a tool to assist people who want to quit smoking, the drug has also proven helpful in treating depression and anxiety for people who have trouble with antidepressants that are classified as SSRIs. Drug repurposing of this type has led to relief from a wide range of medical conditions for a great many people.

Thrifty and creative people have long known the value of repurposing. In a time when many people are seeking to stretch an already tight budget, or want to develop a greener lifestyle, learning to repurpose simply makes sense.

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