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  • Laura Lilly

Upcycle and reuse

Updated: Jun 9, 2019

It’s another cold and windy May day in Tisno, unlike what we had last year at this time. While I could work with the cold and be outside, it’s a little harder to do much with a strong wind whipping through and tossing around my tools or materials for any outdoor projects I planned for today. So it’s a good day to stay in and read, write or research another project. I needed a down day for the next blog, and here it comes! Mother Nature is so giving!

One of the things I love about returning home, to an old world country, after living in the new world country, is the amount of material people reuse and the longevity of attachment to things around houses. In small towns and rural areas where we spend most of our exploration time, I see scrap wood reused, old metal collected, building materials stored in peoples’ yards, etc. We quickly adopted these practices and started to upcycle and reuse! We made this a part of our mission at Lilly's Cozy Cove, adopting sustainable life style and acting responsible toward Nature.


With our renovations this past winter, our yard was full of scrap materials, old windows, gutters, wood and such, all neatly separated by kind by our builder. We were impressed by his organization of our trash! My brain of a nature lover got going with thinking of ways about how to avoid filling the landfill with all this stuff. Luckily, our neighbors started to come by and ask if they could have this and that. As different piles started to disappear, I was growing more excited. All the wood that came off our old roof was used as firewood, and some is still stored in our yard for our fire pit. The old tile was used as a fill material for our new parking pad. The upcyclings I am most proud of are the old gutters, turned into a flowering fence line, and a bathtub turned into a sweet potatoes bed.

The lot next door to us is nothing pretty to look at, either boat trailers or piles of rocks, neither is our old chain link fence bordering our yard on that side. My way of beautifying that view was by hanging the old gutter along the top of the fence. I used a couple of old picks that came with the house to prop the gutter line up on the front side, so that it sits more leveled and retains the water. The two picks weren’t enough, but then our yoga sister came last April, one of them picked up a branch, beautifully carved by worms, and brought it back to our yard. Its length perfectly fit the height of the gutter above the ground. With the annual flower fair happening in Filip Jakov at the end of April, my gutter project came to a completion.

Accompanying the flowering gutter is an old tub that was pulled out of the top floor apartment. Our scrap metal collectors that drive through our village multiple times of the month really wanted that one. They get paid by the kilogram of the scrap metal and that tub weighted a lot. They asked about it if they saw us outside, or slowed down by our house, looking toward the tub and hoping for someone to come out of the house. I ended up jokingly threatening one of them that I would find him at the end of the world if that tub disappears from our yard. He didn’t take it as a joke! And rightly so! This is not a moment I am proud of. Since I worried so much about that tub disappearing from our yard, like it was a pot of gold, Joe and I drove our car to a site where I saw some good topsoil being dumped; loaded our car faster than anyone can see us and come by to ask us what we were doing on their property; and took it home to fill the tub. That way, it was tied to our yard and I stopped worrying about it walking away. My younger artsy nephew and I spray painted dolphins on it one day, making it into the most unique garden art. Sweet potatoes are happlity growing in it!

The last part of my fence beautifying project for this year was to make more growing areas for strawberries in the full sun. I reused pallets that came filled with our roof tiles and bricks, tied them to metal pipes that were custom-made by our roofer and his son, and made mesh pockets in the pallets, filled with soil for our strawberries to grow. Mom and Andreas helped me cut and staple pieces of the trampoline bottom into mesh pockets. The mesh came from a trampoline we removed from our yard last year, after we bought the house.

This one side of our house where I store all these things waiting to be reused, is a true gold mine for me. That combined with the stuff I find dumped in nature, since there are so many illegal dump sites still everywhere, I can do something about keeping Mother Nature clean. And that is not the only advantage of reusing things for me. It helps me build new neurons in the right side of my brain - the more creative side, since most of my life the left side was leading me. It also gives me opportunities to bond with my family through collaborative projects. And lastly, it allows me to realize another part of my dream of returning home and having a B&B - creating an eclectic yard and decor for our apartments. It is a part of our sustainability mision too, in which we take care of Nature that sustains us.