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Turning trash to gold

One woman’s mission to put good use to things people throw out.

BY: Eleanor Yap

 

Khim in her garden.

When one sees something as trash, 65-year-old Lim Guat Khim sees it as gold. “I like to use things that people throw away and decorate them. Instead of buying pots, I tend to use creativity in my garden and inside my home”, said the mother of two who is also a grandmother of two.

“For instance, people threw out a Chinese stone grinder and an Indian spice stone grinder, and my contractor gave them to me to use. I also use wooden crates and straw handbags, which someone threw away. I like to see a home with creativity rather than using money to decorate it,” she said.

She added, “Before Chinese New Year, I went to Tiong Bahru. As I went to the carpark, I saw one big sack cloth with one driftwood coming out. When I saw, I thought I found gold. I saw it as something naturally beautiful and something I could use to decorate. I am like a karang gunu man!”

Khim said she can usually find good use for the various objects people have thrown out, as well as some items that she bought at a second-hand item store.

Here’s what she has done:

1. An old sewing machine – It was something that someone threw out and her husband picked it up. He didn’t know what to do with it and decided to bring it home. “It is a gold collection, I said,” shared Khim. “I change the decoration on this sewing machine each time.”

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2. An old handbag – “My old handbag which I decided to give away but that didn’t happen. I realised I could decorate it with some New Year stuff. It has an Oriental inspiration as well.”

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3. The two urns – “There are two different types of urns – one without rattan, left, which is suitable to put a red cloth and decorate it as a wine urn, while the other in rattan, right, is better to use like a vase. One was given to me, while the other I paid 50 cents.”

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4. Wooden crates – “I found them at the trash outside my friend’s neighbour’s house. I felt I found gold so I picked them up and put them at my friend’s house until my daughter could pick them up. I use them to decorate my plants.”

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5. Straw bag – “I paid S$5 from the market to a old, sick uncle who sold second-hand items. I had the inspiration to decorate it this way using dried curly stems and I hung a light on one of the stems. The other straw bag is upstairs where I draped a scarf around the handle.”

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6. Thrown-out chairs – Most are from the void deck of HDB flats with the seats gone. “In the picture, there is the Indian spice stone grinder on the right, which my contractor gave me as someone threw it away. The roller was sadly stolen. As the seat was gone, I put the grinder in there and stones inside to decorate it. Driftwood came from Tiong Bahru beside the trash in a sack where I saw one sticking out. There is Chinese grinder on the left chair, also from the contractor. I also bought a Malay grinder from an old shop for S$5 which I use for my plants.”

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7. Glass container – “This came from my daughter’s workplace and was given to me. There is a dry pea pod with some wise writings on it and a rubber seed for decoration.”

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8. Another chair – “This chair was picked up by me along the roadside in the neighbourhood and the bottom is all gone. I liked the design and I decorated it. When my orchid blooms, it would look nicer.”

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9. Chemistry glassware – “My husband was teaching at Dunman High School chemistry room, and they were shifting and wanted to throw some items. I used one of them to decorate with the dried flower from Australia called pencil rush and the smaller one has been decorated with dried flowers in a small wine glass and covered by a dome-shaped cover.”

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10. Herbal box – “This box was picked up outside a Chinese herbal shop. They used to keep Chinese herbs in the hard box. I don’t see such boxes any more. I just put a nice pot on the top and the colour blends well.”

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11. Air plants on driftwood and bird’s nest – “I saw an empty bird’s nest on the tree opposite my house and I picked it up.”

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12. Book – “My daughter passed me this book and she asked me to read it. I felt I could use it as a decoration with my ivy plant.”

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13. Cactus – “I used an unused bottle to plant my cactus and designed it as like a desert covered by stones and put it in a glassware.”

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14. Bird cage (with a missing bottom) – “This was given to me as the person wanted to throw it away. I told her I had some ideas to use it to decorate with plants.”

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When praised for coming up with such amazing ideas, Khim was quick to say: “I don’t think I have amazing ideas. I am just happy my brain is working!”


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1 Comment

  1. Michael Lim says:

    Wow, praise God for the creative ideas which are very unique and beautiful :)

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