The cigarette box had outlived its function long ago. I still held on to it, both as an admirer of its silver beauty and as a remembrance of its owner. But what could I use it for now? A jewelry box for earrings? Maybe, but metal against medal would lead to inevitable scratching. And the hard surface might dislodge the earring’s inset stones.

Lining the interior presented a problem too. A fabric lining would slip and slide all over the place while earrings were traveling in and out. I could use glue, true – but have you seen what modern glues do to surfaces these days? Adhering both to surfaces and fingers, these glues leave beind tears and bits and pieces of themselves that can only be removed with blowtorches. And even if you’re able to finally get these bits and pieces off with a mighty effort, you’re still left with a scrubby glue residue that can never ever be removed with anything.

A pack rat of medium rank – I’ve seen lots less acquisitive and some downright scarily acquisitive – I save just enough paraphernalia to keep my apartment from crashing into the apartment below under the weight of all my stuff. You never know when something from the past is going to be exactly what you are looking for in the present. And sure enough, I happened to open a bureau drawer one-day and voila – came upon the solution to my jewelry box quandary. A puffy, bright red shoulder pad! Remember those monster things some years back that made fashion forward women look like linebackers. At the time they were “in” I had cut them out of all of my fashion purchases, not particularly desirous of looking like I was on my way to football practice. And saved them of course, even though I couldn’t imagine what I could possibly use the silly things for.

Now, in all its’ puffed up splendor, a single shoulder pad fits perfectly inside the box. Lined in softly padded scarlet silk to cushion and display my earrings, the cigarette box has found a new, healthier, more upbeat use.

More Recycling and Repurposing: