(ARA) - What do you see when you take stock of your china cabinet? Pieces that you only pull out on special occasions? Or maybe the same casual pattern that you feel like you've used forever? In the current tough economic climate, most people are finding it's not practical to buy new patterns, nor is it environmentally friendly to throw out what you already have at home.
How do you balance this dilemma with wanting a new look for spring? With today's push for greener living, you can recycle more than cans and bottles. Experts say you can also recycle your tableware.
Think Outside the Box.
'"You can recycle your tableware to use in pretty much any room of your home," says Dubravka Vujinovic, showroom stylist at Replacements, Ltd., touted as the world's largest supplier of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. "So many people get locked into thinking they can only use their china and other types of dishware at the table; with a little imagination you can use your pieces in so many different ways that are both functional and fun."
* Go green. Plant fresh herbs in cups and saucers to go around the kitchen or window sill. This not only adds a splash of fresh green color, it's handy for healthy cooking.
* Fill tureens, serving bowls or even gravy boats with fresh cut spring flowers to create unique table centerpieces or floral decorations to use throughout your home.
* Don't throw away broken pieces. Use broken dinnerware pieces to create mosaic mirrors, tabletops or unusual garden paths or patio areas. Replacements actually sells broken china by the pound for arts and crafts.
* What's old is new again. Dinnerware follows fashion trends, and like fashion it seems nothing ever really goes out of style. Dust off what's in your attic. For instance, thick white milk glass first popularized in the late 1800s is becoming popular again.
Give New Flair to Dinnerware.
"We're seeing more and more customers creating new looks with what they already own with very simple and price-sensitive updates," says Robin Long, Replacements' director of business development. "For instance, buy new salad or luncheon plates to accent your current pattern with an infusion of color or design that totally transforms your table."
* Adding an alternate shaped plate or type of bowl, such as a rimmed soup bowl can give your table a more elegant look.
* Dress up everyday patterns or dress down fine china by mixing formal patterns with more casual earthenware or stoneware.
Go For the Ultimate in Recycling.
Complete a pattern that you already have, then start or continue an ageless tradition. "I can't think of a more original way of recycling than passing a beloved dinnerware set along to a family member," says Long. "This is more than practical; it's also sentimental in that you're passing along memories associated with special meals and family gatherings. China, crystal and silver are made to be used and with proper care can last for generations."
One more tip -- Replacements' Web site shows the company has more than 300,000 discontinued and active patterns, some more than 100 years old. If you don't know the pattern name or manufacturer, the company offers a free pattern identification service. For more information, visit www.replacements.com.