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National Recycling Month: Reuse

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In the previous blog we discussed some simple ways to reduce the amount of waste you produce on a regular basis.  The focus on this blog will talk about the next step of the conservation hierarchy:  Reuse.  Reuse takes many forms, but all with the same goal: to keep items useful longer.  Reusing items keeps new resources from being used for a while longer, and old resources from entering the waste stream.  Reusing old items and finding new uses for them is an economic and environmentally conscious way to combat irresponsible waste management.  Here are some creative ways to repurpose items found around your household:

  • Cluttered closet? Clothes don’t fit anymore? Instead of throwing away your old clothes, try giving them a new purpose.
    Old clothes can be made into other textile items such as cushion covers.  Not the artsy type? Give your clothes to someone who needs them by donating them to a local charity.
  • We’ve all got scraps of paper lying about our house.  Instead of packing your garbage bin with piles of newspaper, repurpose that newspaper, cardboard, or bubble wrap as packing material or wrapping paper.  Scrap pieces of paper can be useful for jotting down notes or making a grocery list.  Make sure to write on both sides!  Old envelopes are even a good medium for notes and sketches.  They can also be reused by sticking address labels over the address to be sent out and used once more.
  • Many household items can be repurposed for food storage.  Instead of paper or plastic bags to pack your lunch, try using a coffee can or a reusable lunch bag.  Store your leftovers in resealable plastic containers rather than plastic wrap. Cleaning glass jars and small pots as small containers to store odds and ends is a great way to reduce waste.  Your old food scraps can even be used in your yard as compost!  If you are having trouble finding ways to repurpose some food packaging, foil and egg cartons can be donated to schools and nurseries where they can be used once more in arts and crafts projects.
  • When trying to find ways to repurpose items, think if there are permanent alternatives to your disposable products.  For example, use a ceramic or refillable coffee mug instead of paper cups.  Use washable silverware and dishes instead of disposable plastic utensils and plates.  Try using cloth napkins instead of paper.  These items have reusable alternatives and will greatly reduce the amount of waste generated each year.
  • You can even be environmentally conscious at the grocery store! When shopping, try to only take a bag from the store if you absolutely need one.  Paper bags from the grocery can be reused as scrap paper, wrapping paper, or to make book covers.  An economic alternative to grocery bags would be to bring your own reusable cloth bags to the store.

As you can see, there are countless ways to repurpose items around the house that would otherwise take up space in the county landfill.  Not only does reusing items reduce the footprint of waste on the environment, but it can also be a creative outlet such as repurposing wood scraps to build a birdhouse.  Try thinking outside of the box to find new, fun alternatives to generating waste.  If we each do our part in thinking about how much waste we produce each day, together we can make a difference and a positive change for the environment.

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