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What Do a Pillowcase, a Ladder and Plastic Spoons Have in Common?
Recycling is the most well-known and popular of the 3 R’s. I guess because it is the most dramatic. After the timely rescue of a plastic water bottle from a trashcan destined for the garbage dump, it’s magically transformed into a new fleece jacket! Now compare that to patching the holes in a pair of jeans or refilling a stainless steel water bottle. See what I mean? As exciting as recycling may be, reducing trash and reusing items is just as important, if not more so, in the whole scheme of waste management. Repairing or repurposing items at the end of their life removes the need for recycling, or if the items are not recyclable, the need to bury it in a landfill. Waste reduction and reuse may initially seem to lack the novelty of recycling, but keep reading!
Reducing waste is as simple as purchasing goods that can be reused. Think of a travel coffee mug versus a foam cup or cloth napkins instead of paper ones or a lunch box instead of a plastic bag. As humdrum as it may be, the replacement of disposable household items with durable ones is a household change that reduces waste and saves money. My favorite example of reducing waste is one I often use when talking to kids about the 3 R’s. I ask them if they drink juice boxes and of course they all do. Juice boxes are shrink wrapped in 6 or 12 or 18 packs. A juice box comes equipped with a straw that is individually wrapped on the outside of the box. So, for one serving of juice, the trash created amounts to a plastic straw, its wrapper, and the box. Multiply that by 12 and include the shrink wrap and you have a pile of trash. Only the shrink wrap is recyclable (place it in the plastic bag recycling bin at your favorite grocery store). I ask the kids how they can still drink juice and not create so much trash. The answer I look for is to purchase a gallon of juice and use a cup or bottle that can be washed and refilled. The only trash is the plastic juice bottle that can be recycled.
Reusing is donating clothes that no longer fit to charity. It can also be repairing something instead of trashing the broken item and buying a new one. In fact, just this week I replaced the fuel line on my used lawnmower. Please pardon the shameless bragging, but I am proud of myself. A quick Internet search revealed tons of ideas for repurposing items at the end of their intended life. It’s easy to see that reuse is limited only by a person’s creativity. Check out these links for instructions and ideas:
Here are instructions for turning a pillowcase into a pencil skirt: http://www.instructables.com/id/Pillowcase-Pencil-Skirt-Tutorial/?ALLSTEPS
Whether your decor is traditional, rustic or country hang a ladder over your kitchen island to display baskets: http://www.adreamkitchen.com/traditional-kitchens/1/5335568
Takeout comes with plasticware that is never used at my house and always finds its way to the back of a kitchen drawer. This cool mirror frame could be the solution to my drawer full of spoons: http://www.addicted2decorating.com/how-to-make-a-decorative-chrysanthemum-mirror.html
My little one is too big for a play kitchen now, but I love this idea: http://create.northridgepublishing.com/diy-play-kitchen-how-to/
If you need storage in your bathroom and floorspace is not an option, hang a chair on the wall: http://www.bhg.com/decorating/storage/projects/how-to-make-a-ladder-back-shelf/
While discovering these great ideas, I also came across switchplates cut from vinyl records, a backyard swing made from a skateboard, and computer monitors turned into cat beds and planters. Plastic Easter eggs make great containers for small snacks like Goldfish crackers. A short pronged garden rake is a great hanger for jewelry, scarves or even stemware. Wooden pallets can be transformed into shelving, benches, tables, and a myriad of other furniture. If you are inspired or have other creative reuses around your house, please let me know or take pictures and post them on the R-Board’s Facebook page.
Check out my other posts at Fredericksburg Patch and let me know what you think: http://fredericksburg.patch.com/users/julie-may/blog_posts