Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reuse It!

We're often encouraged to practice the three "R's": reduce, reuse, recycle. I think the easiest of the three to practice is recycle.  If you have a recycle bin, you can do it almost without thinking.  Of course


Recycle, or can you reduce?


recycling is better than having everything toted to a landfill, but recycling isn't as good for the earth as reducing, re-using and re-purposing is.  Briefly, a lot of fossil fuels are used in recycling.  To read more about it, please go to my left side bar and follow the link there or use this link.  Instead try to focus on these three "R's"; reuse, reduce and re purpose.

Those shampoo and conditioner bottles, what can you do with them, besides put them into the recycle bin?  What about finding a shampoo and conditioner that come in bulk sizes, say a gallon container (check the warehouse stores like Sam's or BJ's) and then refill the smaller bottles from them?  I really can't think of any way of re purposing those bottles, but if you can, I would love to hear about it! 

How about the cardboard tube inside of toilet paper or paper towels?  The first strategy is to reduce.  With paper towels, it is quite easy to replace their use as much as possible by using rags, sponges and dish towels.  However, I can't imagine anyone wanting to reduce toilet paper use in that way, not to

                                          Reduce?  Reuse?  Recycle? Re purpose?


mention how unhygienic it would be, and the massive amounts of bleach, actual soap - not laundry detergent - and hot water to clean them for toilet duty again.  One solution could be to buy larger rolls of toilet paper to reduce the actual amount of toilet paper used.
      Another idea is to re purpose the cardboard tube.  There are a lot of sites on the Internet that will tell you how to make Kaleidoscopes for the kiddies or to use them to separate cutlery by taping the tubes together.  Not having anyone in my home that would enjoy a kaleidoscope, and preferring to use an empty, cardboard wine cooler carrier for my cutlery, I'm not particularly receptive to purely crafty uses for anything that I try to re purpose.
   I have seen where the paper tubes have been cut into approximately 4 inch sections, and the bottoms cut to have four sections, then bent over each other like you would close up a cardboard box, filled with dirt and used to start seeds.  They can be planted directly into the ground because the cardboard will disintegrate into the ground.


                  Re purpose?


        Perhaps the easiest and conversely, the hardest things to re purpose is old clothing.  I am of course talking about clothing that is too stained, torn or worn to donate to a charity.  Clothing in good condition should always be donated. 
        Clothing can always be torn or neatly cut into handy squares to use for cleaning, dusting, in the garage etc.  But what if you have enough rags?  T-shirts can be neatly torn into strips, and then crocheted or knitted into chair pads or little rugs for in front of the kitchen sink or bathtub.  Look up on the Internet t-shirt quilts for more uses for t-shirts.
        Jeans can be selectively cut so that the worn parts are excluded.  Good, heavy duty pot holders can be machine sewed from them.  Also heavy duty bed covers can be machine sewn from the squares that would fit nicely in a boy's room or the room of any teen for that matter.  Book covers and tote bags can be machine sewn from salvaged denim.  Even a durable picnic blanket could be pieced together.  These projects all take time, but they are not challenging and you've already paid for the denim material when you bought the jeans, so the project is free.

         Sweaters and afghans that are worn can be unraveled to use the yarn again.  Sweater arms from children's sweaters can be used over the handles of pots and pans along with pot holders for extra protection.  Of course, never leave anything on a pot, pan or kettle unattended in case of them catching fire.
        Take a good look at the items to be thrown away or recycled in your house.  Can any of them be re purposed?  Take a good look.

Some ideas:

  • egg cartons - the cardboard ones can be 3/4 filled with sawdust and a 1/4 filled with wax to use as fire starters in a fireplace or outside grill.  Tear off one or two as needed.  Please remember to use proper precautions. 
  • egg cartons - foam - give them a good wash in soapy hot water and use them in your drawer to coralle small items like paper clips, screws, clips, spare change etc
  • egg cartons - clean well in soapy water, and bring with you to a picnic for your kids to use as a Kala game board.  The pieces can be pretty shells or pebbles that they find.
  • egg cartons - especially foam - bring to your organic grocer or to backyard farmers for them to use again for selling eggs.
  • egg cartons - cardboard - use to start seedlings
  • mint tins - decorate if you wish - use to keep small items in your purse in one place (tweezers, nail clips, spare change etc)
  • mint tins - decorate if you wish - use to store needles, lengths of thread, pins etc for a portable sewing kit. Leave in your purse, desk at work or in your car.
  • Crystal Lite concentrate containers (and containers like it) use it to cold crayons and a few papers for an on the go coloring tote for your children or to coral things like hair accessories, or in the bathroom to hold all the little toiletry samples we're always being given.
  • plastic cocoa container - use it to store all the envelopes of ingredients like gravy, chili mix etc and keep it neatly on the cupboard shelf. If shelf space is limited, I have removed the back pockets of worn out jeans, added a clip magnet to hold it to my refrigerator, and stored all those envelopes in the pocket.
Do you have any tips to share?








         



2 comments:

Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust said...

This is a post after my own heart. As it turns out, we are able to recycle A LOT of our household waste through our city. Lately, my Hunny & I have sworn off bottled water. If we MUST buy a bottle, we bring the plastic home with us to put in the recycling bin. As for the toilet paper holders, I've seen cute crafts made with them {like mod poged candy holders}. Thanks for your efforts - they do make a difference!

Warmly, Michelle

Margaret Mary Myers said...

Mary, I love this. When my children were little, I was always recycling and re-purposing clothing. Not just by handing them down but also by making long pants into shorts, long sleeved shirts into short sleeved shirts, old t-shirts into rags, and so on. I also used to repair leather purses with carpet thread. It really helped us manager our finances but now I know it also helped with stewardship.

Sociable

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