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One of the Prettiest Words in the English Language

Let's assume that most readers find discussion forums as painful to read as I do. I'm almost glad they are, because it created a delightful surprise. On the forum for converting cargo trailers to travel trailer/campers, several people have used the term, "re-purpose," as in 'they repurposed a metal bracket from a shelf in their basement to a new life in their cargo trailer.'

It really caught my eye. What a wonderful word. In some ways, it is magic to create a new function and add value to something that you already own.

When camping in the outback, repurposing scraps and other things is the only way to make your little house more comfortable, unless you are willing to make several long round-trips to town for the hardware store. Personally this is when I've gotten the most pleasure from repurposing. You feel so clever when you succeed! The downside is that the result looks amateurish and ad hoc. 

When you drive a half dozen times a day to Home Depot, Ace, and Lowe's, as I am currently doing, a real pleasure is missed. Driving and buying are "cheating." And they get so tiresome! 

Naturally it is easy to think of repurposing tangible things, especially when you are working on a project like mine. But doesn't it add even more to Life to repurpose Time? Think of any substantial improvement you've ever made to your lifestyle. The essence of it was probably taking hours of wasted time (television, driving & shopping, Facebook, etc.) and reallocating the time to something more worthwhile.

Still, it is valuable to repurpose tangible things just for the sake of getting interested in the subject and wondering how general it can be.

The roof rack is ready to accept 480 Watts of solar panels, arriving in a couple days. And yes, I did repurpose some of the aluminum angle lying in my parts bin to make the eight brackets.


Anonymous said…
Repurposing to me, has all the connotations of the PR spin, of green-washed commercialization.

What is wrong with the existing term, RECYCLING? Do we really need to change the English language, just to feel okay or good about recycling things?

Rant off.
Nomadicista, there certainly is some overlap between the terms 'recycling' and 're-purposing,' but they mean slightly different things because recycling says nothing about what the stuff is to be used for.
To me there is a distinct difference between the words. Recycling is to convert a waste item into a completely new and different product. Say you had an old door and you ground into a pile of mulch. A re-purposed door would be the very same door now used as a work table. At least to me, that's the difference.
Hair splitting perhaps but two good words.
Excellent example. It's more than just hair-splitting if one word inspires a person, while the other word doesn't. Repurposing brings in your imagination, and that is enjoyable.
Anonymous said…
Since when did recycling lose the ability for an item to be reused in it's current form? Did the old glass milk bottles or beer bottles get re-purposed when refilled? Where I come from, it was always called recycling, as was it when the glass was broken, and melted down to create a new product.

A product never had to be reconstituted to be referred to as recycling, before this new term of re-purposing recently came into common usage.
edlfrey said…
I absolutely love to split hairs.
"Did the old glass milk bottles or beer bottles get re-purposed when refilled?"
No, that was recycling at its best - using the same thing over and over again for the purpose it was originally intended.
I believe the term recycling became corrupted when something, ie the milk bottle, was melted down and an automobile windshield was made from it. The original item was changed and a different item created.
Re-purposing may be a new term but is not a replacement term for recycling. The beer bottle would be re-purposed if it were used in the construction of a house wall. This is using something in a way different than what its original intended purpose yet it retains its original form.
Bon vivant said…
Ha, when I got deep into my Westy restoration I learned to park the bugger in the hardware store parking lot. Saved all kinds of time over several months! Especially because a 30yo VW is mostly ad hoc when it comes to restoration. By the time I got my Dodge Sprinter I was habituated to park and work. I did my insulation, flooring, repairs, rear step, cosmetics, shelving, planning and more 'in the lot'.
I'll bet you've were never so productive in your life as when you were working in the parking lot! No driving, just work.

I'm not clear on how your attaching all this crap to your trailer, but from what I can tell I would recommend you give flying lessons to your solar panels as a back up plan !