Save, Salvage & Superfy!

By Patty Lowry


Hello. My name is Patty and I am a Recycle Rescuer. My mission: to roam the curbs for relinquished rubbish; troll bins of tossed away treasures; find hope and purpose in the seemingly undesired and dispensable.  My mantra: “Save, Salvage & Superfy” all surrendered bits and pieces of scrap—with the intention to repurpose and recreate beauty in the world.

It’s a philosophy and a mindset. It’s an imaginative exercise in possibility—a way of seeing beauty in everything. And it’s a useful and purposeful way to minimize waste in our world.

As an artistic environmentalist, I am inspired by the old adage, “everything old is new again.” There is greatness in garbage and trendiness in trash! With this in mind, as well as the calling for creative expression, here are some of my favourite crafty ways to turn presumed waste into wonder.

I love fashion. I love fabric, textures, colours, patterns, trims, buttons and bows. I also love to sew. Whether making something from scratch, or going through the lost corridors of the closet, there’s always the potential for an awesome mash-up of pieces that can be pulled apart and refashioned into new, one-of-a-kind looks.

Take that boring navy blazer, swap in some fun fur cuffs and collar, add a little polka dot ruffle ‘round the edges and voilà—the latest in super funky fabulous for free! Stylish scraps of fabric also come in handy for colourful patchwork appliqués, perfect for mending holes in jeans, adding that little extra drama to that dullard skirt, or even making outfits for dolls and hamsters. Another wonderful way to keep the threads of goodness going is to search out eco-friendly fabrics—either to sew with or to purchase in ready-made clothing.

Today there are all kinds of options available, including bamboo, eco wool, organic cotton and beautiful blends made with recycled fibers from cotton, nylon, polyester and even recycled water bottles. And before you toss out that ‘70s-style gold lamé jumpsuit, consider keeping the love going by gathering your fashionable pals for a fun-filled clothing swap…. with any left-overs donated to your local clothing charity.

Honing in on hoarder status: next on my re-use for refuse list is paper. I collect sheets of the stuff—from fancy bits to yesterday’s news. Why not be doubly thoughtful when opening a gift? Spare don’t tear and re-gift the gift-wrap. You can also come up with creatively conscious ways to present your present with reusable items such as tea towels, bandanas or homemade, hand-painted brown paper bags (try potato stamping for fun). Old newspapers, flyers, magazines and even book covers make for interesting collage backgrounds; or create a unique textured treatment for your canvas with some gesso, a few layers of tissue paper or crumpled newsprint and you’re rocking a Rembrandt original!

In a pickle over what to do with empty jars? Jars make a great place to store other things like nuts, granola, jellybeans, buttons, beads and hamster food. They also offer up a neat container for gifting or keeping homemade treats such as infused olive oils, jams, chutneys and, yes, even [my hamster] Romeo’s favourite carrot yogurt drops.

Once you adopt the creative environmentalist mentality, you’ll open up limitless uses for litter. When you look with eyes of purpose and think with a mind of eco-consciousness, you’ll start to see something new and beautiful in everything.

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