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Friday, July 9, 2010

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. - Part III

After talking about reducing our stuff/waste/environmental footprint in Reduce.Reuse. Recycle. - Part I and II, let's move on to Reusing.
Go for seconds! (and I'm not talking about the buffet here :-) Reusing means using things a second, or third or forth time.
Here are a few ideas how to get started:

  • I can't repeat it enough: being green means choosing reusables over disposables (from water bottle to picnic dishes to napkins and shopping bags etc. etc.
  • As far as reusing other stuff goes: be creative and think out of the box. Magazines can be used for craft projects with kids, creating greeting cards, use in scrapbooks,...
  • Received greeting cards can be used for creating unique collages, in scrapbooks, for new cards, as bookmarks etc. etc.
  • Used envelopes can be reused! When I first heard people did that, I thought how cheap they were! Man, was I wrong. Why not give an envelope a second go-round?  Scratch out the address, tear off the stamps and use it again!
  • I reuse almost all of my glass jars (think nut butters, fruit spreads, fruit sauces etc.). Either for storing dried foods such as nuts, dried fruit, flour, coconut flakes and the like (the big plus here is that I don't have to worry about leaching plastics!), or for vases, stationary holder (pens, tools etc) or art projects
  • The same goes for nice-looking bottles: the smaller ones with a good lid I use as a water bottle (until I figured out which store-brought one is safe enough to use). I also store my water kefir in reused  bottles. And another idea is to use bottles as unique candle holders, vases for single flowers - other ideas, anyone?
  • I have seen cans being used as flower or herb pots or stationary holder. They look especially nice when decorated with ribbons
  • When it comes to gift wrapping, I have never understood people who throw away gift bags. I wrap my gifts in packaging paper and/or fabrics, but when one of us receives a gift in a gift bag or nice wrapping paper, I'll always reuse it for another present.
  • Reusing also applies to clothes: instead of throwing away outgrown kids clothes, pass them on to younger siblings, family and friends. For adult clothes that no longer fit or please, how about a swap with friends?
  • Same goes for toys, electronic equipment, furniture, DVDs, CDs, VHS (yes, some people still have a VHS player!!!) and almost anything you can think of. If you want to get rid of stuff but don't know anybody who wants it, you can always post it on freecycle or craigslist
  • I guess composting is a form of reusing as well. In any case, I strongly encourage it, no matter in what situation you live. There's always a way to compost, if you're willing to make that change in your life.
  • Baby gates that are no longer in use or are defect can be used as a clothes drying rack (placed over a bathtub) 
  • Scratched CDs or DVDs can be attached to the back of a bike as a safety reflector
  • More or less every single household thing can be reused at least once (the tinfoil from that last pizza take-out for example - if you do use tinfoil anyway, why not give it a second round for some other leftover food? Squeeze containers (for mustard and the like) are great for cake decorating. Toothbrushes make good cleaning utensils for hard-to-reach spots (unless it's a Preserve toothbrush - they sell with a stamped and addressed pouch that you can use to send the brush back once it's done. Awesome!) The list is endless!
The main thing is to be open and aware. Trust me, once you start, you'll find so many ways how to reuse things. I'd love to hear from you - please share your experience with me!

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