This time of year I always feel a little sick to my stomach, and not just because of those midnight romps at the dessert buffet with the bottomless glass of Prosecco.
I suffer from that other brand of post-holiday consumption bloat. Even though I have cut waaaay back on gift buying, I feel icky as I fill my recycle bin with ransacked shipping and gift boxes.
The task makes me vow that I am going to buy even smarter, waste even less, and re-use more.
Only this year, I found inspiration from a company whose business it is to do exactly that.
Damon Carson, owner of RepurposedMaterials, in Denver, is the type of guy who drives down the road, sees a billboard, and thinks: That perfectly good billboard will one day be torn down, and all that useful billboard vinyl will get chucked in a landfill.
He sees that the UV-protected, industrial-strength, waterproof barrier could enjoy a new incarnation as a super-sized tarp; a pool or pond liner; a cover for a hay stack, wood pile or boat; protection for a baseball field; a Slip 'n' Slide.
Repurposing means using retired items in new ways.
“Like when you turn an old fire hose into a boat-dock bumper,” I say, as I surf his website www.repurposedmaterialsinc.com , riveted by reuse.
Before launching RepurposedMaterials in 2010, Carson owned a traditional trash pick-up company, which he sold.
Then, an off-hand remark from a painter working at Carson's home (“Hey, if you ever get an old billboard vinyl, they make great drop cloths.”) turned the entrepreneurial light on in Carson's cranium.
Sales in 2012 were double those of 2011. Clients include farmers, ranchers, landscapers and DIYers.
If you, too, want to resolve to use more old stuff in new ways in 2013, note some of the clever ways Carson's company helps customers repurpose:
Conveyor belt rubber. Stronger than other rubber materials of the same thickness, conveyor belting is made to carry tons of sharp rocks and ore over thousands of feet in mines. Belt rubber is rip, tear and impact resistant.
The rubber converts to great mats for dog kennels, horse and cow stalls, trailers and garage floors. It can line truck beds, be cut into mud flaps or doggy doors, or go under exercise equipment.
The trim ends of conveyor belts make good landscape edging.
Snow fence wood. It can be reused in reclaimed wood flooring, barn siding, corral fencing, decking and bridges. Its weathered patina, tan lines and bolt holes add to its character. You can buy the salvaged snow fence lumber by the bunk. A bunk contains 49 weathered boards (why 49?) and costs $245.
Swimming pool covers. Many of these are so sturdy a cow can walk across them, so manufacturers boast. These breathable covers take sun, hail, rain, wind, and most of Mother Nature's wrath. They can shade a dog run; screen a greenhouse, construction project or tennis court; or cover a pond or compost pile.
Roof pavers. Grab these concrete pavers from demolition sites. The paver tops are flat and the bottoms grated to allow drainage. The slanted edges let pavers lock onto one another. The 12-inch-square pavers – about $1 each — can enjoy a second life as a garden path or patio.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.