Earlier this year when the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic started and social distancing became the norm, the word "reuse" took on new meaning in our household.
Reduce, reuse and recycle are the three R's, yet reuse sometimes suffers from what I call the "middle R syndrome."
For recycle, we all have recycling bins, and in some states you get paid to recycle.
For reduce, reducing or modifying our consumption habits is easy to accomplish under the right circumstances.
For reuse, it might not be that easy.
To reuse involves being creative, putting in extra time and effort and resisting the urge to go out or online and buy new things.
The pandemic created the ideal conditions for our household to learn to reuse because we had to find some way to cope with social distancing and the stay-at-home order while it was in place.
I am also a public-health epidemiologist, so we were going to follow those orders to the dot.
At home, we learned to reuse in many ways, and we involved the kids when possible.
The benefits of doing DIY (do-it-yourself) projects by reusing what we already had were numerous.
The first project was to repaint the bathrooms and spray paint the fixtures rather than buying new ones. The fresh coat of paint brightened up those rooms. We got the kids involved, too, because they were painting their own rooms.
To be honest, we did buy oil-rubbed bronze spray paint for this project, but the net gain was for the environment because we did not throw out any fixtures. The results were so good that we have had family members ask us to refresh their bathrooms.
The next project involved building a dollhouse for our energetic toddler.
It was going be a present for her on Eid, the Muslim holiday after the month of fasting.
For this project we used leftover 3/4-inch plywood, wood screws from a bed frame and leftover paint samples. One of our daughters had been wanting to paint her room in pastel colors, so we had six paint samples. The older kids loved painting the rooms of the dollhouse.
The most complicated project was expanding the raised garden in our backyard.
I used two solid wood frames from two beds we were planning to sell.
Instead, I disassembled the frames and used the long side to construct the frame for the garden bed. I did not have enough lumber for the entire garden bed, so I reused other lumber of a similar height to complete the frame.
Ultimately, the garden bed frame came together nicely, and our veggies already are starting to show the fruits of the labor.
Each of these projects allowed us to reuse what we already had, brought our family closer together and gave us a new appreciation for the middle R – reuse.
Ayaz Hyder is a member of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Committee. The Eye on the Environment column is submitted by the commission.