My Blog

Second Time Around

Our family has always been very conscious of how everything we do affects the environment- not just our immediate surroundings, but the world environment as well. The children don’t necessarily know the “Reduce Reuse Recycle” mantra, but they do understand the principles and practice these in their everyday lives. The most important “R” we practice, though, is to “Refuse.” We live very simply, and don’t clutter up our lives with lots of extra stuff. We choose what we buy carefully, with an eye towards conservation and how we can get the most use out of each purchase. To that end, we do an awful lot of “reusing” and the children are wonderful at coming up with ways to do this.


Can we afford a world covered in this?

One of the best ways to reuse containers and packaging materials is to make toys out of them. The children in Yemen were so good at this. Toys were difficult to come by, and expensive, so most often they just made playthings out of what they could find on the streets. These things would go in cycles, with first one homemade toy and then another being all the rage. For awhile it was airplanes made very cleverly from plastic soda bottles, complete with propeller (sound was provided by the time honored blowing through pursed lips). Another time it was racecars made from cast off boxes or vegetable oil boxes that the children would race down the street. In Shihr, a fishing town on the coast that we lived in for two years, the kids would make push toys out of the spools that the fishing line came on.  Dolls were made by stuffing old baby clothes with rags and tying the arms, legs, and neck shut. Whenever I see children in the stores whining for the newest princess doll or electronic car, I think of the fun that the Yemeni children had with things that other people would look at as garbage, and am thankful that we have taught our children the Islamic principles  of  simple living (az-zuhd) and gratefulness (shukr).


Our latest reuse project here focuses around our garden. We don’t have much money to put into it, so we used cast off lumber from house renovation as well as boards taken from windows that had been boarded up and made raised beds and a compost bin with them. (Actually, composting is reusing as well- using your kitchen scraps to make lovely, lovely dirt!) We are making underground watering containers out of plastic soda bottles, and a worm composting tower out of a couple of cast off storage containers. We are also figuring out a way to reuse sink and clothes washing water by filtering it and using it to water the garden.

We plan a larger compost bin as well, insh'Allaah

We plan a larger compost bin as well, insh’Allaah


How about you? Share some of your ideas and experiences with reusing with us!

Post a comment


Dani G. on April 9, 2013 2:53 am

How’s this for a fundraising idea for the children? Collect all those cardboard food containers, like the ones oatmeal comes in, and cover with fabric scraps. Then sell them as gift “boxes” for the holidays. These are so cute, people will keep them all year to store things in.

Khadijah on April 9, 2013 3:02 am

That’s a good idea! We have oatmeal basically every morning, so that’s very do-able. The kids would love it as well. Right now the girls are putting together a cookbook, both for fun and to make a little money if possible. They are focusing on healthy food that is eaten by real people, and accessible to all. They are accepting recipes, if anyone has a good one!

Umm Khadeeja on April 11, 2013 10:25 pm

Assalamu alaikum

How do you make raised beds?
For composting, we just throw old fruit and vegetable peels (and sometimes eggshells) in a particular spot off to the side in the back yard (I think this attracts bees in the summer). I don’t really know how to compost but I thought this would be good for the soil (and perhaps the squirrels and rabbits could benefit).

Also, we planted some cantelope seeds a couple of weeks ago in some clear plastic cups (cantelope seeds always have grown so well for us – all praise is due to God alone)

Now they are shooting up and I am wondering what should be the next step – put them in bigger pots? Try to plant them in the ground? We really just enjoy watching them grow, I am not really expecting fruit…

Khadijah on April 12, 2013 4:46 pm

Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah
Well, we used left over household lumber. You can see them at and read a bit about how they came together.
You might want to try heaping the peels and shells into a pile, and adding some dirt and leaf or grass leavings. The thing I would worry about with the way you are doing it is rats and other less desirable city animals hanging out because of it. I even read of a person who found a nest of rats in his compost pile because it wasn’t getting hot enough to break down properly. You could even get a bit of chicken wire to put around and over it, to afford some protection from that.
If it is still before the last frost date for you all, I would go with bigger pots. If it is nice and warm and past that date, then go for outside. It will be exciting to see if you get some fruit, insh’Allaah!

Agnese Umm Yusef on May 4, 2013 8:17 pm

Assalamo aleykum,
my husband and I are very new to many of these ideas, but we are very interested in learning more and becoming more hands on and more conscious in our choices insha’Allah. My way of re-using is something really little that came about without me taking the conscious decision to recycle, but just because I started seeing the beauty in something we just mindlessly throw in the bin. I am making books for my children (about the life of Prophet Muhammad SAWS, I would like to send you the scanned pages to get your feedback if possible, by the way). I am illustrating them with collages (with no pictures of animated beings), and initially I bought some craft papers to use, but I soon found myself needing a certain colour, and raiding the recycling bag or the cupboards in search of it. Now I have a big folder in which I keep every wrapper/box/paper/label/envelope of anything whose colour/texture/pattern I like, and I use mostly those in my collages. I find it so much more special to know that I made something out of what used to be something else.

(I tried – and apparently failed – to post this a few times, I really hope I didn’t post 4 of the same insha’Allah!)

Khadijah on May 4, 2013 8:35 pm

Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah
Nope, mash’Allaah, it only posted once!
Alhamdulillah, I would love to see the books, insh’Allaah. I would really like to see the collages, we love doing things like that, mash’Allaah. And you are right, there is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that you have used something that otherwise would have gone to waste, especially to make something beautiful and beneficial. Insh’Allaah I look forward to seeing what you have done!

Your brother Ray, thought it would be good for me to befriend you on facebook. I have been enjoying reading all that you share on the different blogs. I blog also, mostly about homeschooling and life. We did the complete life cycle of the chicken, hatching and raising them, here is the blog post:

Khadijah on September 30, 2013 6:15 pm

Lovely! I will have to visit your blogs as well, it sounds like we have much in common, between homeschooling and chickens! Ahlan wa sahlan, Kamilah.