African music instrument made from a food can
Repurposing is the process by which an object with one use value is transformed or redeployed as an object with an alternative use value.
Repurposing is as old as human civilization, with many contemporary scholars investigating that way that different societies re-appropriate the artifacts of older cultures in new and creative ways. More recently, repurposing has been celebrated by 21st century hobbyists and arts-and-crafts organizations such as Instructables and other Maker culture communities as a means of creatively responding to the ecological and economic crises of the 21st century. Recent scholarship has attempted to relate these activities to American left- and right-libertarianism.
Repurposing is the use of a tool being re-channeled into being another tool, usually for a purpose unintended by the original tool-maker. Typically, repurposing is done using items usually considered to be junk, garbage, or obsolete. A good example of this would be the Earthship style of house, that uses tires as insulating walls and bottles as glass walls. Reuse is not limited to repeated uses for the same purpose. Examples of repurposing include using tires as boat fenders and steel drums or plastic drums as feeding troughs and/or composting bins. Incinerator and power plant exhaust stack fly-ash is used extensively as an additive to concrete, providing increased strength. This type of reuse can sometimes make use of items which are no longer usable for their original purposes, for example using worn-out clothes as rags.
Not all repurposing is necessarily environmentally friendly, take for instance the idea of repurposing older work trucks for businesses in their infancy, in which their poor fuel economy can negate long term benefits since greater spending of money for fuel, and more fumes output to the sky can prove to be environmentally unfriendly, in which repurposing vehicles for electric car conversion can be the recommended alternative to that, though its cost can be negligible upfront.
Skis repurposed as a bench
A ladder repurposed as a coat rack in Sardinia
Railway line repurposed as farm fencing corner post
Improvised street bench in Naples
(Italy), made from wooden pallet
An improvised cowbell
, used for sheep or goats. The bell was found in 1988 in a field near Tuqu'
(Tekoa) in the Judean hills, the West Bank. The bell's body is made of aluminum, probably a broken kitchen utensil, while the clapper is a brass cartridge case (SMI 25 NATO, probably 7.62×51mm).
- Appropriation (art) is the use of repurposing pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. The use of appropriation has played a significant role in the history of the arts (audiovisual, literary, musical and performing arts). In the audiovisual arts, to appropriate means to properly adopt, borrow, recycle or sample aspects (or the entire form) of human-made audiovisual culture. Notable in this respect are the Readymades of Marcel Duchamp and sampling in Hip Hop music.
- Full-size vans from the Big Three which have been used for airport shuttle service have been repurposed as church vans mainly because of some depreciation to facilitate affordable cost for thrifty church groups.
- A USB dead drop can be mounted on a brick wall since this gives an opportunity to repurpose older USB flash drives with obsolete capacities to continue service for file transfer (especially anonymous ones) that don't demand more than one gigabyte.
- Everdrive and other flash video game cartridges have offered opportunities to download ROM images of video game cartridges onto SD cards while offering opportunities to repurpose real vintage video game consoles for retro gameplay.
- Old Android smartphones, which tend to have little computing resources yet which are unused and probably contain a triaxial accelerometer of decent specifications, can be used as an amateur seismograph node for a distributed seismography project, e.g., Quake-Catcher Network.
- Discarded or new consumer COTS surplus parabolic reflectors intended for use for C band satellite TV reception can be repurposed for a wide gamut of applications for which a consumer-grade reflector of low gain is adequate, incl. amateur microwave SETI (mainly Project Argus), Wi-Fi links, and microwave amateur radio radio beacons.
As a tactic for manufacturing goods
- Right-hand-drive Jeep brand vehicles, such as the Jeep Wrangler, which are initially slated for import to right-hand-drive countries, have had some specially designed versions repurposed for US and Canada postal service mail carrying, in which this tactic of repurposing can consolidate the overhead of retooling for specialty manufacturing of the vehicle.
Manufacturing of recycled goods
Scrap and household materials