Inspiration from China

27 Jul

I picked up the first reclaimed item for my house this evening. It was a new IKEA stainless steel wire dish drainer. Not exactly a crucial element, but the inspiration was worth more than the item.

I thanked the woman who gave it to me, Joyce, and asked why she bothered to put this small item on Craigslist’s free section rather than throwing it away. She said, “I am Chinese, and we are very frugal. My parents always tell me not to throw anything away that someone else could use.”

Aside from frugality Chinese people can be incredibly resourceful too, maybe because so many have so little money or opportunities that they have no choice but to be inventive. I was reminded of Wu Zhongyuan, the 20-year old Chinese farmer who built his own helicopter from salvaged materials a few years ago. He didn’t even have a PC so he gathered relevant information by accessing the internet over his cell phone! And this was back when phones had tiny, cramped screens and horrible rendering of webpages. I know it must have been very difficult.

Here’s another guy, 徐斌  (“Bin Xu”), in his DIY gyrocopter.


Joyce remarked that I went to a lot of trouble to drive over for a dish drainer. I explained that the principle was more important than the item and that I was building a small house from as many salvaged or free things as possible to show that it can be done, and to make people think about how many useful things we waste.

She said I should make a public blog since people would be interested to see and read about it.  So here I am.  I hope my words and photos encourage and give confidence to someone with a need or a dream.

Thanks, JoyceXD!


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