December 2, 2013

Making room for more

By JOLENE WALLACE, Cornell Cooperative Extension

---- — On my way to work this morning I had the radio on, and although I wasn’t really listening to the commercial that was airing, a phrase from it caught my attention. The phrase was “make room for more.”

It occurs to me that this is the time of year when we do just that.

We purge the toy box of the outgrown toys in order to “make room for more.” We sort through the closets, removing items that we no longer use, no longer like, or no longer fit into, to “make room for more.” Even our refrigerator gets a going-over in preparation for the addition of more food, special ingredients, or larger quantities for feeding family and guests special holiday meals.

I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with the “make room for more” activities we go through. We all have a tendency to keep things we haven’t used in a while (and probably never will) because you never know when you’ll need it, right? 

In my case, even if I need it, it’s unlikely I’d ever find it. So if I come across it by accident while “making room for more,” shouldn’t I just get rid of it? Yup!

Which brings me to the point of this article: the four R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose.

The responsible thing, the kind thing, the considerate thing, is to give items you don’t need any more to someone who can put them to good use. There are plenty of organizations who will see to it that good homes are found for the items you are ready to pass along.

Another option is to look at these items and try to see them in a new light. Repurposing means finding a new use for something you already have. 

Have a tank top you don’t intend to wear again? Turn it inside out, sew the bottom together, turn it right side out again, and you have a tote that will carry books, groceries, toys, or whatever, and as a bonus, can be thrown in the washer and dryer. 

Have a shelf full of jam jars taking up room you could use for something else? Use them to store dried herbs, brown sugar, or anything else that benefits from an airtight container. In a landfill that glass jar will be around pretty close to forever, so reuse or recycle it.

Kids are good at coming up with ideas to transform trash into treasures. If you have access to some, (kids, not trash) challenge them to repurpose something. They will have a project to work on during winter break, possibly even gifts for family or friends, and you may be dazzled by their creativity. 

Speaking of dazzling creativity, there are still a few spots left in my Wreath Making with Natural Materials Class on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to noon. The class is held at our office at 6064 State Route 22, Suite 5 in Plattsburgh. The $23 registration fee includes all the materials you need to produce a one-of-a-kind grapevine wreath that you will be proud to display or give as a gift. You must pre-register. For more information or to register, call our office at 561-7450 or email me at

Jolene Wallace is the horticulture program educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. Contact her at 561-7450 or