I laid carpet tiles in the room we use as a study the other day. Being a parsimonious Scot, the thought of throwing away the offcuts hurt, and I spent some time thinking of a use for them. We now have a lifetime supply of quite funky drinks mats which, unsurprisingly, match the decor.
Who hasn't blown up the bag from an empty wine box and mused on its potential as a travel pillow? Or prised the ball out of an old roll-on deodorant and wondered what it could be used for (Table-top football? Insert LEDs and use them as Christmas lights?) My father, being an engineer from the age when everyone saved string and wrapping paper and the gummed paper around sheets of stamps, was a natural recycler long before the term was invented. Things got mended, not replaced, and when we took a trailer-load up to the dump we sometimes returned with other people's cast-outs, rescued for construction and restoration projects.
One of the neatest bits of recycling I've come across was the report some years ago of a man who was being prosecuted by a distillery. He had collected industrial filters used in the whisky-making process, which the distillery had been in the habit of dumping on a local waste site. By wringing them out through his wife's mangle, he had apparently extracted seriously useful quantities of duty-free scotch for his own consumption. As I recall he got off, and quite right too.