October 2, 2009

Reuse, Recycle, Get Crafty
Giving Your Gear a Second Chance

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter many of us have a tendency to clean out gear that we’ve out grown or no longer use. Being outdoorsy folk we also tend to be concerned about our environment. So rather than throwing out old ropes, yoga mats, tents, and water bottles just to have them sit in a landfill there are ways we can reuse the items.

The easiest is way to get gear out of your way is to donate the items. MAJOR DISCLAIMER: If it’s not safe for use don’t donate it! If items are in good condition but perhaps a little old considering donating them to your favorite outdoor non-profit organization. If you don’t have a favorite organization or know of one in your area check out your local REI or outdoor outfitter. This month the Boulder REI is giving all donated items to The Women’s Wilderness Institute however there non-profit of choice changes every few months so it’s a great way to spread the love.

The next easiest way is to recycle items. For example Sterling Ropes, ClimbingGear.com and Chacos, Patagonia, and Nike have recycle programs for their products. Check with the original manufacturer to see if they have a recycling program.

Now if you’re crafty like me you may want to find a way to reuse these items yourself. For items like old school water bottles with BPA minimal assembly is required. You just need to see the bottles in a different light, just because you don’t want to drink from them doesn’t mean they can’t be useful.

Around the house the bottles can be used to hold loose change, store detergent for cleaner trips to the laundry room, or filled with water or sand to be used as hand weights. If you’re a camper considering using the bottles to store first aid items, or throw a headlamp in them and they become lanterns. Also for the desperate times of needing to heed the call of nature in the middle of a cold night, well yes, they become pee bottles. You don’t have to leave the tent.

For retired climbing ropes you can you may have to get a bit hands on but you can make a wonderful rug for your front door step just check out the patterns available at Roperugs.com. It’s kind of like macramé without the wooden beads. If you have a dog or want to make a gift for a dog lover in your life considering making a custom leash.

When it’s time to let go of your favorite yoga mat you can make a pair of flip flops. You need a glue gun and a but of patience but when you have a mat that’s the perfect color or print it will be worth the time.

How about tents that have seen better days? If a rip or wear has made the tent unpatchable and no longer a solid shelter in the great outdoors you can still make use of the material. The tough but packable fabric is perfect for sewing your own ditty bags or shopping bags.

This is really the tip of the iceberg. I am sure there are lots of amazing ideas out there and I would love to hear them! Please share any new and fun ways to reuse and recycle gear in the comments area. Also, keep in mind, when shopping for gear choose brands that give back.


NakedBinder.com said...

All my old cordelettes have been turned into dog leashes. I still want to make a rope rug but never did it.
I have donated many ropes to people weaving large nets to hang in trees and hang out ( with suitable warnings and knowing them well enough to know they know what they are doing)
Reuse! (Great post)

Nielle said...

Do you know a good product to use to clean yoga sticky mats? Mine is still usable but has some stains and stuff I need to wash off but not sure what to clean it with.

Tali said...

Thanks @Nakedbinder!

Nielle, I use water with a little vinegar or tea tree oil Just get a spray bottle mix it up then go to town.

Katie said...

This post couldn't have come at a better time! I have an old EMS rain shell, snowpants, and a few fleece coats I need to find a home for, and you've given me some great ideas :) Thanks Tali!