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.[1] 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.[2][3]

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.[4]

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.



  • 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.[5]


  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • 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.[8]

Manufacturing of recycled goods


Real property

Scrap and household materials

See also


  1. "Medieval Recycling". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  2. Malewitz, R. (2014) "The Practice of Misuse". Stanford University Press. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  3. "Throwaways: Work Culture and Consumer Education". Stanford University Press. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  4. "100 Ways to Repurpose and Reuse Broken Household Items". DIY & Crafts. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  5. Hammar, Richard R. "What Church Leaders Should Know About Church Vans". Enrichment Journal. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  6. "How to make your own". 10 June 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  7. Stoneagegamer's article on the Everdrive
  8. US Drive Right: The Nation's Largest Seller Of Used Factory Right Hand Drive Vehicles For Postal Carriers
  9. "Debunking the Myths of Recycled Paper". Recycling Point Dot Com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  10. Sleigh, Sara H.; Barton, Cheryl L. (23 August 2012). "Repurposing Strategies for Therapeutics". Pharmaceutical Medicine. 24 (3): 151–159. doi:10.1007/BF03256811.
  11. Ashburn, TT; Thor, KB (August 2004). "Drug repositioning: identifying and developing new uses for existing drugs". Nature Reviews. Drug Discovery. 3 (8): 673–83. doi:10.1038/nrd1468. PMID 15286734.
  12. Institute of Medicine (2014). Drug Repurposing and Repositioning: Workshop Summary. National Academies Press. ISBN 9780309302043.
  13. Upcycling,Recycling,Repurpose,&REUSE- furniture & household items to random ish
  14. "Unique Repurposing Ideas". Sunshine Skips. 17 August 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
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