These three words describe activities that I would like to encourage all of us to incorporate into our daily lives as much as possible. We, as organizing consultants, strive to help our clients cut down on extra waste that will just be deposited into landfills. We want to eliminate toxic cleaners from our homes and keep the air and environment as safe and clean as we can for our generation and all future generations as well. We are all “consumers,” but I want to give you a few tips for REUSING items that we all have rather than tossing them into the trash. I have come across lots of similar ideas in books, magazines, and of course the internet. You can Google “ways to reuse and recycle” and you will get pages of websites that concentrate on how to REUSE that plastic bag instead of tossing it.
1. Plastic Bags
Let’s start with those plastic bags we all have. They can be used and reused in many ways beyond carrying a sandwich.
- The zippered type can be used for sorting/storing such items as: paper clips, rubber bands, small toys, safety pins, pens/pencils, cosmetics in your purse, etc.
- In the fridge, they take up less room than plastic containers for nuts, cut up veggies, and cheese slices.
- You can even fill deviled eggs much easier by putting the filling in a plastic bag and cutting off a corner. This same method can be used to frost cakes and refill spice mills (no more peppercorns rolling all over the counter).
- The zippered bags can also be used as a pencil case. Punch holes into the non-zippered edge and insert it into a 3-ring binder. This saves money on school supplies and the kids can still have fun decorating them with markers/stickers.
- Need extra cushioning for a fragile item? Close a zippered bag 90% of the way, insert a straw and inflate. Then remove the straw and finish sealing to make a protective bubble.
2. Cardboard Tubes
How about those empty cardboard tubes that we normally toss.
- Stuff your saved plastic bags inside an empty paper towel tube to fit neatly in a drawer.
- Use any size to store string, ribbon, or yarn. Wind it around the tube and cut a slit on one side to secure.
- Put tape around two or three long tubes and insert into boots to help them keep their shape.
3. Egg Cartons
Here are some alternate uses for those clean empty egg cartons.
- They make great seed starters. Just cut off the lid, fill each section halfway with soil, lay seeds in and cover with more soil. A sunny window and regular watering and you’ll have sprouts in no time.
- Storage for many items such as: earrings; small glass seasonal ornaments; workbench items like screws, nuts, bolts, and washers; in the desk for paper clips, push pins, and rubber bands; and in the sewing/crafting area for buttons, beads, and sequins.
I hope this has given you some good ideas. The next time you find yourself heading to the waste basket, I hope you’ll stop and say to yourself, “Hey, maybe I could still use this for…”
For more ideas on reusing common household items go to Real Simple, or checkout Family Circle columnist, Vicki Lansky’s book, Another Use For… 101 Common Household Items.