Before You Recycle, Reuse!

| June 6, 2016 | 0 Comments

Young woman putting glass bottle and can into recycling bin in kitchen, smiling, portrait

The message was clear: use the earth’s resources wisely, unless you want to go the way of the dinosaurs! Today, we want to focus on the 2nd “R”.

While recycling is a powerful tool to minimize waste, and MRF’s have changed the way we look at garbage, it still requires a lot of money and power to do and it’s not perfect. Minimizing what goes into the garbage in the first place should still be priority.

Here are a few common garbage items that could be given new life. All it takes is a little creativity and know-how!

Plastic Bags

Even when we bring our own reusable bags to the store, somehow those plastic bags just seem to pile up. How many of us have a drawer stuffed full of the things, or a cabinet under the sink where they’re piled high? Here are a few ways to use them:

  • Place them as liners for bathroom, bedroom, and car trash
  • Use them to separate things when you pack for a trip. You can stow dirty clothes or shoes in a bag during a trip to separate them from clean clothes.
  • When you’re moving, pack breakables in rolled-up plastic bags instead of foam peanuts and bubble wrap.
  • Use them as hardy stuffing for pet beds or outdoor furniture with thick fabric covers.
  • Cut up the bags and tape them together to use as a shield or cover when your kids are doing craft time.
  • Use them for cushioning when you’re mailing something breakable, moving, or packing something away. They work as well as styrofoam peanuts, and you can re-use them later.

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Once you’ve acquired that big pile, you can also go recycle it. In fact, you can search for a recycling facility near you with this link: http://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/s01/s01_search.html

Bottles

reuse recycleOld glass bottles often look really nice, and seem too bulky and valuable to dispose of, so we hold on to them. However, once a pile builds up, there’s nothing charming or valuable about them.

The good news is, there are tons of fun projects that allow you to upcycle old bottles, whether they’re from wine or Coke. Click here for a great video with some ideas.

Cans

You can really get creative with this one. With a little bit of tlc, cans from things like soup and green beans can become charming household and garden decor. First, clean and decorate the can.

Wrap some stylish paper around it, paint your own patterns and colors on the exterior, or wrap ribbons and twine around it for a rustic look.

Then, you can use your cans as…

  • Pen and pencil jars
  • Small planters for kitchen herbs (you might want to punch a couple holes in the bottom to drain the soil)
  • Vases for your tabletop
  • Little lanterns that work indoors or outdoors. Punch out holes in a clever pattern and stick a tea light in the bottom.

You can also repurpose tin cans by adding fitted lids and turning them into juice bottles, toothbrush holders, and storage for dry goods.

Plastic Yogurt Containers

Three different colors of yogurt isolated on white background

These cups are even handier when you clean off their old labels using nail polish. After a cup is clean, label it for its new purpose using a sharpie or masking tape.

  • The most obvious answer is to use these containers as tupperware. Store leftovers and snacks in these containers to make them easy to access without purchasing more tupperware. And don’t just use them for your refrigerated leftovers. These containers are also great for bags of rice, beans, and popcorn after you open up the bag. Yogurt containers create a tighter seal and keeps them from spilling all over.
  • A yogurt lid can double as a hand protector. Cut a slit and use it to catch the drip from popsicles or paintbrushes.
  • Make homemade popsicles. Fill the cleaned cup with juice, cut a slit in the lid, and poke a popsicle stick through it, then put the whole thing in the freezer. These are usually much healthier than popsicles from the store.
  • The cups also work great as plant and seedling starters. After that, take them to the beach to help build your sandcastle.
  • You can also use cups as a scoop for dog food, kitty litter, bird seed, and rice or other dry goods that you store in a barrel.

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