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  • Jessica McQuistin

Sustaina-Minis, Re-Pair Edition: Adding a New R to the 3 (or 5 or 7) Rs of Waste Management



I'm a little teapot red and green

Oddest thing you've ever seen

My hat tells a tale of where I've been

Lend an ear if you are keen


Surely you've heard of the 3 Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Perhaps you've even learned expanded versions of the 3 Rs that also include Refuse, Rethink, Repair, and Rot. Today I have a new R for you: Re-Pair. I've brought along my quirky little red and green teapot as an example of this strategy.


Living a low-waste lifestyle, there are many quick decisions to be made (like what items to choose or refuse when shopping) and some that take more time, like deciding what to do when a beloved teapot lid breaks.


I'm not a very materialistic person. I've been told that I'm hard to shop for and that's probably because I don't generally want things. But one particular Mother's Day (one of my first), I found myself actually wanting a physical item - a teapot. This seemed like a good gift since it would be something I could use frequently and keep forever, yet I couldn't be bothered to buy one for myself. So I offered this suggestion to my husband (Jamie). Jamie made a special trip to an actual tea store, Distinctly Tea in Waterloo, and found me a cute lime green teapot with a metal insert for loose-leaf tea. It was perfect!


Somehow, quite early in this little lime green teapot's life, the lid broke. A teapot without a lid is about as useful as a sock without its partner. But we couldn't bear to throw it out, so we stuck the lidless teapot in the back of the cupboard, where it gathered dust for several years.


Lately, I've been looking around the house and considering what we should do with random items like this that have potential but aren't fully functional anymore. I certainly didn't want the teapot to go to a landfill. And I didn't think it would be fair to donate it anywhere since it would likely get tossed anyway without a lid. So I decided to try to get a new lid for it. It's worth noting that this actually took quite little effort, but it's these little, non-urgent tasks that I find the hardest to tackle. Like Gretchen Rubin says,

Something that can be done at any time is often done at no time.

(If you want to read more about this, check out her blog post on "power hour".)


First, I put "teapot" on my to-do list, where it sat for much longer than I want to admit (maybe a month?). Eventually, I looked up the shop where Jamie had bought the teapot and e-mailed them, asking if they might have a replacement lid.


To my tremendous delight, they did! They had a perfectly-sized lid sitting around from - get this - a broken teapot! So my lidless pot had a perfectly-sized potless lid, sitting there as if waiting to be paired up. Just one glitch...It was red! "I'll take it!" I said. "It'll be a conversation piece." This amused the store owner almost as much as me. He set the lid aside and several days later, I picked it up.


(By the way, Distinctly Tea has an amazing assortment of loose leaf teas and customers can bring in their own jars to weigh and fill. Woohoo!)



Every time I look at this mismatched teapot, it makes me smile. I have the initial memory of receiving the teapot on that mothers' day many years ago, and now the memory of finding a perfectly fitted mismatched lid for it and restoring it to its former glory - if not making it even more glorious!


I, like the teapot, have my share of quirks and I bet you do too. I'm not always as amused by my own quirks or differences. But I'm working on that. Like the teapot, I try to remind myself that sometimes what makes me stand out - those unique imperfections and mismatched or contradictory traits, like being a clumsy perfectionist - might just be part of my charm.


Forgive me for getting a little carried away with that story! The whole point of all that was just to suggest that pairing up oddly matched items - or "Re-pairing" them, if we're sticking with the R theme - can be one way of breathing new life into otherwise useless items and saving them from the landfill.

 

Can you think of other mismatched items that when paired, can extend each other's lives?


Do you have any mismatched character traits that you can embrace as part of your unique charm?


I'd love to hear from you in the comments or on social media so don't be shy!

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