Many of our landfills are reaching full capacity or closing, and all components of our environment, air, water, as well as open spaces are increasingly threatened. To reduce our wasteful attitudes and lifestyles out of sight can no longer mean out of mind. Actually, with minimal effort, we can all help to solve our current solid waste disposal problems. Start with Re-use and you can double up on a product so new ones aren’t manufactured and ultimately disposed of.
Personal Benefits of Reuse:
Save money Conserves natural resources Saves valuable landfill space Get the most out of the products you buy
Many items we throw away every day have the potential to be reused for their original purposes or for new ones.
The fibers in paper tend to get shorter and shorter until they can no longer be recycled. Most paper fibers will eventually have to be composted incinerated or landfilled, but meanwhile we can still do our part by delaying their entrance into
the waste stream. Paper and paper products make up almost 40% of the
waste stream, the largest contributor to the waste stream.
> Newspaper is recyclable but it also may be reused to prepare or clean-up messy jobs or as a packing material.
> Cut up any no longer used one-sided documents and use it for notepaper kept by the telephone or for shopping lists.
> Write shopping lists on opened or junk mail return envelopes and carry your coupons inside them.
> Wrap postal packages in previously saved brown paper bags.
> Instead of putting it in the wastebasket, turn a box into a wastebasket, or container for source separated materials.
> Reuse small boxes to organize desk and dresser drawers.
> Reuse gift wrap for gifts or line shelves and drawers with it. Reuse gift bows and also use pretty paper bags as gift wrap. Be especially mindful of reusing wrapping paper during birthdays and holidays.7
> Tired of those pre-approved credit card applications, call one of the following to get your name off those lists:
Experian (formerly TRW) 800-353-0809
Trans Union 800-680-7293
These paper preservation techniques will surely have you reducing by reusing in no time.
We are bombarded by plastic for its superior storing abilities and cheap price. Plastic is leakproof, airtight, durable, moldable, lightweight, retains and resists heat and cold. Plastics are more difficult than paper to recycle and last thousands of years in the landfill…
So, it is especially important to make the most of their reuse potential.
> Shopping bags make up a large portion of the plastic in our waste stream. Stay simple with sustainability by bringing a reusable shopping bag. Most supermarkets have them available, but remember to re-use and bring the bags back for efficient environmental reuse.
> Turn a plastic bottle into a funnel (for your home, business, or car) by
cutting off the top half.
> Use plastic bread bags to bake your toes inside your child’s wet shoes or have a bag in your car for those days when you get caught in the rain with your favorite shoes on.
>Rather than buy refreezable “ice” containers for your picnic coolers, or for camping, use empty plastic bottles. Mouthwash bottles are perfect; filled with water they are reusable in your freezer over and over, and when they thaw out you’ve got cold drinking or washing water.
Although they may ultimately reach the waste stream, even a one-time detour for plastics is helpful in waste reduction.
Unlike paper and plastic, container glass is totally and perpetually recyclable, yet only a fraction of it is recycled. All glass can be recycled in San Diego. Before recycling, however, glass jars can be very practical for in-home storage of just about anything as they are water and air tight.
>Turn a pickle jar into a cookie jar or punch holes in the top of a small jar to create a shaker for spices like cinnamon, salt or grated cheese. A jar with a punctured lid will also make a great air freshener if filled with spices or potpourri.
>Keep your buttons and bits of miscellaneous or change in jars and know at a glance what’s inside.
>Use a large, attractive jar as a goldfish bowl.
Often we think of recycling as the only answer to our solid waste problems. Metals are endlessly recyclable and it takes 95 percent less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to process it from ore and steel is the most recycled material in the world. Before you recycle, however, consider reuse as the alternative that uses no resources except your imagination!
> Use aluminum foil that was used in cooking as a cover for cooked food to keep warm before serving or to help store leftovers in the fridge.
> Use a tuna can with both top and bottom removed to cook a perfect poached egg.
> Other empty metal cans can be used as pencil holders, cookie cutters, muffin/cupcake molds, measuring cups and to store screws.
Used motor oil can contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Improper disposal of motor oil can result in uncontrolled migration to the ground or surface waters, creating a potential public health or environmental hazard due to contamination. Motor oil can be recycled.
To do so, put it in a clean, plastic container with a tight lid. Don’t mix it with anything else. Take it to a service station recycling center, or other location that collects used oil for reuse.
Tires are a major solid waste disposal problem. Discarded tires make perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and they tend to rise to the top of landfills. They don’t degrade unless the conditions are highly controlled, and when burned they can emit poisonous gases. Their great durability is just what makes them so difficult to dispose of. Most landfills will not or cannot accept them.
There are many innovative ways in which tires can be used by municipalities for
public uses, and individual should look for items made from used tires. Some current tire reuses include: Artificial reefs, Here are some current tire reuses:
Artificial reefs, roofing material, playground equipment, shoe soles, floor mats, bumpers, sandals, asphalt and if not severely worn, tires can undergo a retreading process and be used again. Support efforts to recycle, retread, and reuse tires.
Kids can be terrific engineers of reuse. Giving them free reign over your discarded papers, cardboard, scraps and packaging keeps them entertained, exercises their creativity, saves money and supplies and gives them something to call their own.
If you don’t have children, just call your local elementary school or day care center and offer items useful for craft projects. Websites like Throwplace create a network for users to list items online they would like to give to nonprofit organizations, businesses or individuals.
It is unlikely that you’ll have to suggest ideas to children on what to construct; they’ll probably have ideas of their own. However, here are some projects to try: (Always use safety precautions, of course!)
> Have a puppet show! Use a cardboard box for a stage, create a fabric scrap curtain, make glove or sock puppets and use an old sheet or tablecloth as a backdrop.
> Use milk cartons covered in colorful paper to make lightweight building blocks. Use cookie, cracker, cereal, etc. boxes for a variety of sizes.
> Construct a train from a can and a small box. Use bottle tops or sewing thread spools for wheels and other cans and boxes for cars, Remember to keep small objects away from young children.
>Freeze water in an empty aspirin or other small bottle as a cold compress.
>Use old toothbrushes to scrub hard to reach places, such as plumbing fixtures.
>Cut a hole in the top of an oatmeal container to make a yarn dispenser.
>Keep a sponge and towel closer than a roll of paper towels to only use when necessary.
>Use stale bread for croutons, crumbs, stuffing or french toast.
>Reuse small boxes to organize desk and dresser drawers.
> Make two-sided copies when possible
>Use one-sided scrap paper for drafts and notes.
>Circulate memos or send e-mails instead of making numerous copies.
>Save and reuse inter-office envelopes.
>Avoid Styrofoam, but reuse Styrofoam peanuts.
>Bring reusable dishes, mugs and utensils to work.
Get Creative – Reuse can satisfy your natural urge to construct, work with your hands and conserve. Be sure to add your Reuse ideas to the Eco Diego comments on this page to help urge the community that our trash can be a treasure trove of Double Up opportunities.
Some people have gone so far as to build houses with bottles. Most of us won’t go this far, but with a little imagination and energy we can get creative with reusable items!
If you enjoy this Green Yourself Tip be sure to check out the full episode about this issue
Season 2 – Ep. 5 Twice as Nice
Season 2 – Ep. 5 Twice as Nice