I picked up “Save” while browsing the bookshelves at our local library. Its subtitle really appealed to me: “Save your money, your time, your planet”. The title photo is of a green money plant growing from a pot. All that really inspired me to give this book a try.
Shannon Lush is a fine arts restorer and Australian radio host. She has published a couple of books, namely a series called “Spotless” with “Spotless Baby”, “Spotless pets”, and others. Her website is this. Jennifer Fleming is a writer and media consultant as well as a radio producer and broadcaster. She co-wrote most of Shannon’s books.
About the book
The book is divided into the different rooms of a house – kitchen, lounge, bedroom, kids, laundry, outside – and a chapter on food. But it’s really the introduction I want to look at now.
In the introduction the two authors speak of an experiment which I find really inspiring: don’t throw anything away for six weeks, no recycling and no general waste. What a challenge!
This challenge introduces the concept of the book pretty precisely. The book is full of ideas to repurpose every single item in the house, from plastic bags to pantyhose. Every chapter/room comes with a collection of ideas on how to reuse individual items which would usually end up in the bin, recycling or not. Some rooms also include ideas for the more general repurposing of items, such as a busy box for kids with everything from egg cartons to old toothbrushes, or a mosaics from broken plates.
My impression of the book
Shannon and Jennifer have truly managed to collect an abundance of ideas on how to reuse (almost) anything. I like the book as a reference book and to come back to it from time to time to get ideas.
However, it requires a lot of storage of all the ‘junk’ before it can be turned into something else. And I think that’s where it would get too complicated for me. Just an example, the number of old things that can be turned into rags for cleaning seems endless but, truth be told, no one needs that many rags.
And still, the book is full of so many ideas and no musts. I don’t have to do any of them (unless I do a challenge).
What the book inspires
My biggest obstacle to the book is that I simply don’t think to look before I throw recyclables in the bin. Just take water bottles: I don’t even think about turning them into watering cans before I take them to the bin. The book confronts me with this thinking which I believe is its biggest achievement. It challenges me to rethink my rubbish and come up with ideas of how to repurpose it.
Some ideas are, apart from waste reducing, plain awesome. Just take this: the tail ends of bread can be turned into modelling clay if they are mashed and then combined with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of water. Once shaped they can be dried/heated at 130°C in an oven until they are rock hard. Or this one: toilet paper rolls can be used to hold socks or undies, posters, craft supplies, gift wrap, or just about anything that can tangle (I store my cables in toilet paper rolls and label them; makes finding the right cable a breeze).
I like the combination of random ideas and really useful tips in the book. But admittedly, you need a bit of a crafty side to master some of them.
Overall I like the book as a reference manual for repurposing my waste. I’m sure to try the challenge myself. “Save” will certainly help to get useful ideas for most throw-away items.
Full bibliographic reference: Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming: Save. ABC Books, Sydney 2008