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An Upcycler is Born (Is there one in YOU?)

The Fateful Day

One of my most embarrassing moments happened when I worked at a party store during my college days, in Columbus, Ohio. It was a busy Saturday. I was working the register. I had woken too late to eat breakfast. Oh, and it was my time of the month. (Any guessing where this is going?) While I was serving a customer checking out, the room began to spin. Then it went grey and fuzzy. Then black. What happened next I don't actually recall, but it was reported to me that as I was passing out I fell forward, hit my head on the register monitor, then fell back and hit the floor.

Dang it, Heidi. Why did you skip the most important meal of the day?!”, my shoulder angel scolded me with a wagging finger.

“Call an ambulance!” Were the words I heard that brought me to. I roused myself quickly to avoid that end. Through squinted eyes I saw myself, back flat on the floor, with a dozen customers and co-workers looking on concerned. Then I saw the unthinkable. My entire midriff exposed, and half of my bashful bra, were seeing the light of day! Daaang! This modest bible college girl was mortified! I yanked down my shirt and tried to sit up.

Hello! How long have I been here? Does no one have the decency to give a girl some pride? Could no nice lady staring down on me go the extra step to pull down my dag-gum t-shirt?! Sheesh!”, my indignant thoughts whoozed and whirled.

Perhaps it was right after I pulled that humiliating stunt that my boss put me on as the “Card Stocking Associate” as my primary duty. Away from center stage, in the back half of the store. But it wasn't a total loss, because it would be in that section of the store that one of my best ideas would be conceived!

Duty to Repurpose (aka, The Beginning)

It became my responsibility to keep all the greeting cards stocked and tidy. Daily I would pull bent, torn or damaged cards from the racks. They were to be logged, then discarded. Discarded! Well, I just couldn't see them go in the trash with a clean conscious! Not for one little blemish! So, as a resourceful soul would do, I asked my manager if I could have them to craft with; to repurpose. (Which wasn’t a trendy thing back then, that I knew of.) He turned a blind eye, and I brought them home to attempt to give them a second chance.

Greeting cards to reuse.

Card-Making Commenced

I would cut, redesign, and paste, these cards into something a bit different. Then I’d mail them to loved ones afar. This, my very unglamorous start into greeting card making! My first form of upcycling, at age 19. My cards were extremely primitive back then, embarrassing really. But you gotta start somewhere, right? And necessity is the author of invention, and I had no extra cash for store bought cards. So I would continue to cut and paste the salvaged card remnants to “dot-matrix” printer paper, folded into quarters, dots detached of course! (Am I aging myself here or what?! And I’d never even heard of “card stock”, though didn't have money to buy that either.)

Now, if the card was cute enough, I would just cut the back portion off and write my message on reverse side. I'd mail them home to my family and friends who were thousands of miles away in the Pacific Northwest. Nothing at all fancy, but it worked for me! This was before email and cell phones were common; when folks actually wrote letters by hand and used “snail mail” to correspond! It's a dying art if you ask me! My family and I are determined to keep it alive! Who’s with me?!


Now days, I still can’t toss a handsome card out! The ones given to us at birthdays, holidays, and so forth. I see the second life that remains unlived! So, again, I cut off the used half and tweek the edges or corners with fancy scissors. My embellishments today are a little more sophisticated then the magazine clippings of my early days. I typically tie or glue a strip of upcycled fabric ribbon and finish with a button. (Love buttons!) And ta-dah!

My upcycled creations from cards given to our family.

Anyone can give greeting cards another life!

It's really quite simple:

Snip ~ Glue ~ Go!

Please assure me that you'll think twice now before you toss that stack of birthday, or holiday cards, in the recycle bin! It will save you a ton of money, and preserve the world some trees! Boom! (If you don't have the drive to reuse them, give them to a resourceful friend!)

Though this Repurpose Greeting Cards discovery cost me my pride that fateful day at the register decades ago, it was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me!

Tell me, do you reuse greeting cards? Is there anything else you make with them?

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