Pencils stored in tins on work table in printmaking space

Creative Challenge |A Creative Approach to the 5 Rs


Refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle creatively text with patchwork cushion and pencils in old syrup tins
Most of us today are aware of the huge problems of waste and try in our own way to follow the 5 Rs mantra of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.
Refuse: be thoughtful when we’re buying or taking free handouts. Do we really need it?
Reduce: resist impulse buying. Do I have a use for this single ball of fabulous looking wool or will it sit unused in the cupboard with twenty other fabulous balls?
Reuse: cut our consumption of disposable, single use items. Think more like your great granny did and reuse things.
Repurpose: find a practical use for things that have passed their initial use. What can we make from the scraps and leftovers or redundant objects?
Recycle: when we’ve tried everything else recycle. It can be a challenge but there’s lots of options.

One of the problems that can arise with being creative is that it can generate a lot of waste. Discarded paintings and prints that aren’t very good, handmade clothes that don’t fit properly, craft supplies bought in expectation but never used.


To take a creative approach to the 5Rs

Here are some ideas if you need them:

Hand sewn patchwork quilt
Use small fabric scraps to make patchwork.

Ten creative things to do with scrap paper 

Make an art installation from waste.

See if you can make as many things as Celia  from an old pair of jeans

Blanket knitted from recycled yarn

Make a knitted rug from unravelled or stashed yarn.

Repurpose a book and use it as a scrapbook or make a pop-up paper cutting.

Sort through your supplies so you know exactly what you have and do something creative with (or pass on to someone else) the impulse buys of the past.


Have fun!

Do let us know what you’re creating in this year’s Challenge. Leave a comment below (with a link if you’re sharing online) or tag @Slamseys in Instagram.

5 thoughts on “Creative Challenge |A Creative Approach to the 5 Rs

  1. The challenge of being unwasteful in creative activities is not easy – I find I am prone to profligacy whether it’s with paper, paint, yarn or fabric. It’s always very satisfying to define new ways of reducing that or using resources one already has rather than buying more. Interestingly, quite a lot of professional artists (visual or other) found operating within limits imposed by scant resources actually enhanced rather than diminished their work. Van Gogh, for example, who couldn’t afford to buy proper artist’s canvas and made do with cardboard. So enjoying your varied prompts – thank you! E x

    1. I tell myself that it’s all about enjoying the process and so using up a pile of paper is no more wasteful than reading a newspaper. That said, I enjoy the challenge of using discarded work.

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