Category Archives: Repurposing

1001 Things to do With an Empty Bleach Bottle


My Dad should have written a book entitled “1001 Things to do With an Empty Bleach Bottle.”  He would have been hard pressed to limit himself to such a low number.

Raised on a farm, Dad’s family moved into town just in time for the Great Depression.  He left school after eighth grade.  Like his father, he became a jack-of-all-trades.  And like most depression era kids, he learned how to make do with what he had.

He never threw things away.  “We may need that someday,” he would say as he dropped one more used screw into a nearly filled gallon bucket.  There were buckets for nuts, straightened nails, washers, bolts, and a host of other used items.  We didn’t have a fancy word like “repurposing” to describe what he was doing.  We just had that phrase, “We may need that someday.”

And then there were the bleach bottles, washed out, cut up, and serving in ways their manufacturers never dreamed.  They bailed water out of our motorboat.  They became garden implements.  They served many varied functions in his shop and about our home.  I wish I could remember all the ways he used those bottles.  Then I could have written the book.

So when we baby-boomers came along, our parents encouraged us to use our creativity.  We built go-carts out of scrap lumber and baby carriage wheels.  We made scooters out of fruit boxes and clamp-on roller skates.  A few years later, we made skate boards from two by fours and those same roller skate wheels.

No place to play baseball?  No problem.  We turned an open field at the end of the street into a baseball field.  When that field was made into a housing development a few months later, we turned the street into our field of dreams.

That short street served as our football field and, at times, as our tennis court.  It was a humongous tennis court, so we allowed two bounces after the ball crossed the invisible net.

At school during recess we turned our bodies into MIGs and Sabre jets, patrolling the skies of the playground with our arms thrown back like wings.  The bathrooms served as our air bases, the playground our battlefield.

Old cardboard boxes were flattened to ride down the spillways of overflowing reservoirs.  Scrap pieces of plywood were gathered and cut into two-foot wide circles.  Then we painted designs on our boards.  During summer trips to the nearby ocean beaches, we would toss our boards onto the ebbing water after a good wave, run after the board, then jump on them and skimboard away.

Yes, we did all these creative things and more with our parent’s blessings.  And then, like today’s generation that insists on high-tech activities for their leisure pursuits, we would complain, “I’m bored.  There’s nothing to do!”


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Filed under Creativity, Essay, Repurposing, Skateboards