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Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose-More Ways to Have Less Trash and Garbage!

Updated on January 25, 2021
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Rebecca loves sharing what she knows about alternative medicine, health, frugal living, fun, animals, and how to live a better life!

Trash and Garbage

Let's cut back on this!
Let's cut back on this! | Source

Why cut back on garbage and trash?

Information gathered from statistics from 2013- On average Americans produce 4.5 pounds of solid waste each day! Americans produce an estimated 251 million tons of waste per year. This often goes to landfills! So consider that next hill you it just another huge pile of garbage?

It kind of sounds ironic doesn't it? Creating less? But can create less and by doing so, create more for our planet and everyone else.

Besides the obvious benefit of creating less garbage and trash, LEAVING LESS LOAD on our planet... creating less can save you lots of money! And who doesn't want that?

Some of these ideas may seem "penny-pinching" or silly, many you may already be doing, if so, great job! Keep up the great work. But with any luck, by the time you finish reading this, you'll have a renewed zest to create less trash and garbage!

Think of the children man!

How do you do your part to eliminate trash?

Do you do anything to help prevent the creation of trash?

See results


This is the most obvious. Recycle.

What can be recycled? Plastic, glass, aluminum cans, paper. Even electronics, batteries, and cell phones.

Some people feel recycling is a hassle, but it's really not. It's quite simple.

  1. Separate your recyclables into containers based on what they are. The containers don't have to be fancy. They can be rubber totes, or even bags, or garbage cans.
  2. Make sure labels are removed and containers are rinsed out (to avoid attracting bugs), and data is removed from electronics.
  3. Once a huge collection has been accumulated, take them to your local recycling center or contact the trash pickup company in your town or neighborhood. Some trash you can even be paid for!

Encourage your entire family and children to recycle. Little ones will get an immediate boost in self-esteem knowing they are making a GLOBAL IMPACT!

Reuse and repair

This is a practice you just need to get into the habit of doing. Practice makes permanent. And if all else fails, duct tape can repair anything.

Each time you go to throw something away, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Can it be repaired? Do I need duct tape?
  2. Can it be reused?
  3. Can it be recycled or donated?

If you get past number 3, then, unfortunately, it's probably trash! Booooo! That's not what we are after here. But 9/10 times, you won't make it that far.

Take a lamp for example. The shade is bent or really dirty. Is the shade paper? Recycle. Is the base in good working condition but the wiring is bad? You can get a new cord from a local hardware store and fix it. Add a new shade. Presto, repaired. Really hate the lamp, but it's working, just no shade? Donate. It's not working at all, the shade is destroyed, the base is metal, but it's hopeless to donate it. Recycle as scrap metal. See...didn't get past #3.

Plastic bags...most can be rinsed clean and reused many times before recycling. You can save as much as $15-$20 a year in zip-lock bags alone!! Maybe $20 a year isn't a huge savings, but it's half a tank of gas. It's a dinner for 4 from Burger King. This same concept can be applied to overpriced paper towels, rinse and reuse, or better yet...don't buy them at all! Old socks make great dusting rags. We use plastic bags in our household a minimum of 4-5 times each. One time for groceries, two-four for packing lunches, and finally five for scooping cat litter for our kitty cats. Or when I go grocery shopping I use fabric totes and forget plastic altogether. Brown paper bags are great too. Once for groceries, the second time for draining bacon grease, or even more uses for school book covers, art projects, gift wrapping. Lots of things can be reused, look around. Keep the 3 questions in mind, when you go to toss anything!


Re-purposing just takes a little imagination and a small dose of creativity. If you're reading this, you're probably already pretty crafty and may not even realize it.

Maybe a sheet can turn into a table cloth. Or a table cloth can turn into curtains, or curtains into dishcloths or pillowcases. Jeans can become jean shorts. Toilet paper rolls are great for crafts, save scrap paper for note-taking, then recycle that. Or shred scrap paper in a shredder for party confetti! Then recycle the confetti!

When considering a re-purpose:

  1. Step back from the item and get a good look.
  2. Look online! The internet is a 24/7 library at your disposal (no pun intended). Pinterest is great for ideas, join and you'll never run out!
  3. Ask friends or especially children what they think an item can magically be turned into.
  4. Finally, make it happen!

Buy used


Buy used

Take full advantage of Thrift Stores, consignment shops, and sites like Craigslist, or DHGate. You'll save a ton of money, and odds are you'll get rid of the items at some point in the future anyhow. So why pay full price or for all that marketing?

The best thing about buying secondhand is that items rarely come with packaging. So all that marketing, ink, and paper won't happen twice!

Some good things you'll always find? Clothing, especially dress clothes for men and children's clothing. Shoes, belts, accessories, jewelry, books, toys, and housewares will also be easy to locate. The other fun part of thrift shopping is not knowing what you'll find! I once found an old metal shelf that I sprayed with white epoxy paint and re-purposed for a bathroom shelf. You can re-purpose even used finds!

If you have a young adult child heading off to college, these are great places to buy dorm supplies, furniture, clothing, etc...Most charities support your community as well, by providing skills and job placement for those less fortunate, such as disabled people. So your shopping at these places has a higher and meaningful purpose!

Omit convenience food, paper products and buy in bulk.

When buying food, stop getting convenience food. The same thing applies here as buying second hand, less packaging.

Stop buying throw-away items like paper towels, tissue, paper plates, cups, and utensils. All these items go right into landfills. It may take a bit of work on cleanup after a party, but you'll burn more calories in the process and create A LOT less waste. Not to mention, these items are very expensive. You can find millions of dishes at a thrift store if you just want something to use quickly while entertaining, and if you buy reusable items, you can find them in stack-able sizes for easy storage.

When buying items you know you'll be using forever, like toilet paper, laundry soap, or dry goods, buy in bulk. Some stores even allow you to bring your own containers, which really eliminates packaging and usually is significantly cheaper. Extra items can be stored in a garage, basement, or attic. If you don't have that space, ask a relative if they have any storage room. Maybe even offer to split some items with them.

Buy concentrated products

Again, buying concentrated reduces your recycling. You can buy concentrated laundry and dish soap. A lot of manufactures offer "refills" for these items in bigger containers, these are good too.

When possible buy products in recycled containers, this helps your fellow recycler's efforts too!


No brainer! Stop buying stuff you just don't need! Eliminate things you just don't need or that no longer serve a purpose. Get rid of knick-knacks that are draining you of life energy-requiring constant dusting! Buy memories, not stuff. Instead of piling toys onto your kids out of guilt, take them out for ice cream, show them how to cook, use your library, or go for a walk in the park. You don't need more stuff to enjoy your life. On your death bed, will you really remember that $3500.00 leather sofa? Or will you remember the time you took your son or daughter to observe birds at your local park?

Grow and preserve your own food

If you have space, grow a garden. You can even have a container garden indoors. Growing your own fresh fruits and vegetables doesn't have to be difficult. Container gardens are also great for city dwellers, or for those that lack an abundance of living space.

Preserve and can your own food. This is also great to share with family and friends. For ideas on preserving and canning your own food, check out The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Compost, burn, or compact

Return to the earth what you've used from her and she will repay you ten-fold.

Grass clippings, leaves, and food waste can be composted. Even city folk can compost by taking their items to the local community garden.

Another trash option if your city or town will allow it is using a burn barrel, and for what you can't compost, burn, recycle, reuse, or re-purpose, compact it the best you can. Flatten it, cut it, tie it together, or break it into small pieces. The more it can compact, the less space it will take up in a landfill.

Scrap metal

Set aside a box or container for scrap metal in your recycle arsenal. Aluminum cans can be worth as much as a penny apiece. Save this stuff until you have a full load and then take it to your scrap metal dealer. My stepson and I have a great time-saving aluminum can and smashing them. The money made goes into his piggy bank.

True stories-

  1. In a rental property I owned, the 30-year-old dryer finally died. My husband and I took it to the scrapyard, not the easiest task, but we had a truck. The center gave me $35 for it. I then found a used dryer on Craigslist for $50. The new-used dryer only cost me $15 out of pocket, and the tenant was happy again!
  2. We also recycled platinum from a catalytic converter off a 1996 Maxima that we eventually scrapped for $250. The catalytic converter got us another $75 bucks, for parts we would have otherwise thrown away!

Buy with durability and extended use in mind

This is exactly as it sounds. Buy with durability in mind. If it means spending a few more hundreds on furniture that will stand the test of time or serve as an heirloom, do it. This concept doesn't apply to electronics, just look for deals on those. They become outdated too quickly. Use your common sense, and buy with durability in mind. One way I save on multiple trash creation is I use products that promote extended multiple-use, primarily an epilator for shaving. I'm not filling landfills with disposable razors or plastic. Another thing worth mentioning that I won't go into detail on is a Diva cup or Moon cup for women, see the link to your right.

Durability items to consider:

  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Healthcare items
  • Cars
  • Machines-like lawnmowers, snow blowers.

Don't throw away, give away!

Don't throw away items you simply don't want that could be a lifesaver for someone else. So many people go without basic needs every day. The coat you got from Aunt Hilda for Christmas that you can't stand, could keep someone else so warm! Dishes you no longer like, or all those knick-knacks you're eliminating may really make someone else smile! Anything in gently used condition can be donated to your local Goodwill, or Salvation Army. These organizations are helping millions every day by furnishing their homes with basic items, helping them prepare and or return to the workforce, and helping millions of children that would otherwise go without. They also employ those with disabilities. You'll also get a tax write off for donations, and some places hand out discounts/coupons for when YOU decide to shop at the Goodwill. Easter Seals in NEO will even pick items up so that you don't have to drop them off! Which causes less air pollution if only one vehicle is out picking items up!

Use half!

This is a big one, and all you need to do is try it for 21 days to become a believer. Use half of everything you normally use on a daily basis. You won't feel deprived at all. Watch the trash vanish and the savings multiply!

Halve all this...

  • Toothpaste
  • Toilet paper
  • Dental floss
  • Make-up
  • Dish soap, hand soap, laundry soap, fabric softener
  • Condiments (sauces and sweeteners)
  • Coffee
  • Electronics



Saved the best for last...SHARE

The biggest and easiest thing we often overlook that eliminates trash and garbage and also saves money is sharing.

What can you share? Everything!

Food, transportation expenses, clothing, appliances.

We share lawn equipment and appliances with our family members. We have one ladder between three households. No one needs a ladder all the time, so it rotates locations. It was a $100 expense divided by 3. We share food and soup, and since we have a young son who is never full, this helps us a lot with food costs. My neighbor has been a blessing with childcare help, and in return, I help watch two dogs that she has. Sharing the burden of chores is also a lifesaver! My husband snowplows our neighbor's driveways, it builds fellowship and community trust. We also pass around magazines and books. I wanted houseplants very badly, but those are expensive. A friend of mine at work has given me at least 5 plants he found at the curb, and with a little TLC, they came right back to life. They are happily thriving in my home now. Had he not done this, they would have been tossed carelessly into the garbage can. Since he has quadruplets (yes you read that right, he and his wife are the busy parents of multiples), our son's clothing gets recycled down to their children whenever possible. Sharing feels good!

So share and "pay it forward". Recycle, reuse, and re-purpose! We can all do a little more to make this planet a lot better!

© 2014 Rebecca


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