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Ways to Reuse Kitchen Trash

Updated on October 10, 2012

Although recycling often conjures images of green bins and large recycling centers, let's not forget the simple and basic meaning of "recycle," to use again. There are countless useful ways - to use and reuse several items that would normally hit your trash or recycling bin. If you can find a new way to bring life to your trash, then you are reducing the amount of waste you produce and increasing the livelihood and longevity of the planet.

Obviously, you can't make peanut butter to refill your empty ar. (Well, you could, but that is just a totally different book!) How­ever, you can reuse those empty glass or plastic jars and butter or margarine containers for storing food rather than buying plastic storage containers. Just make sure to label them to avoid searching through fifteen butter tubs to find last night's mashed potatoes.

Also, another little reused item in the kitchen is the plastic sand­wich bag. How often do we put things like granola, cereal, or sandwiches in them, use them once, and then throw them away? Why? Instead, simply flip them inside out, wash them, leave them to dry, and reuse them. It is easy and requires little to no effort to do. This method works well for bags that contain dry goods or veggies. However, you may want to just chuck the bag where raw meats are concerned.

Looking for something to do with your two-liter plastic soda bottles? Engage your kids in a fun and educational activity and use a bottle to create a terrarium.

Here's how:

  1. Wash it thoroughly before you begin, and remove the label.
  2. Use scissors or a knife to cut off the top quarter of the bottle and poke holes in it.
  3. Layer the bottom of the bottle with 1-2 inches of pebbles for drainage. (You can add a layer of activated charcoal for filtration, but that is optional.)
  4. Top the pebbles with Spanish moss to give the roots room to grow.
  5. Add a heaping layer of soil. Try to use one that contains mostly humus, sand, or peat.
  6. Plant your seeds in the soil just as you would in any other pot. Nearly any indoor houseplant will work. Just make sure that it doesn't have the potential or desire to bust the seams of your terrarium.
  7. Water.
  8. Decorate your terrarium to add a little flare. Create a theme and let your imagination run wild. Add trinkets, bells or shells to liven it up.
  9. Reattach the top portion of the bottle and seal it with tape. 10. Sit back and watch the growing fun.

You will only need to water the terrarium when moisture droplets no longer appear on the top of the bottle. Buying and decorating a preassembled terrarium is fun, but why buy when you can make and participate? It is simple, productive, and educational for the kids, and it requires very little upkeep.

Another handy and versatile piece of trash is the common milk jug. One of the easiest uses for a milk jug is storing cold water in the fridge. There is nothing better than a cold glass of water, es­pecially in the dead of summer, and what better way to use that milk jug again than to fill it with blessed H20?

There are several other uses for the multitasking milk jug:

  • Help your kids cut off the top, poke holes in the bottom, paint it, fill it with soil and seeds, and use it for the perfect beginner's garden.
  • Use it to collect that rainwater .we've been talking about. Just make sure to cap it to keep pests from reproducing or making a home in it!
  • Use a half-gallon milk jug to reduce water use in your toilet.
  • Cut off the bottom, tape the top's edges to dull them, poke holes around the mouth of the jug, and use it for a handy scooper for your kids' bathtub toys. Use the handle, scoop the toys, and store the toy-filled jug under the bathroom sink!

These ideas are only a few simple ones on a long list of op­tions. Once you turn your sights to recycling and reusing, empty containers and potential trash will begin to leap into your inven­tive recycling imagination. There are hundreds of options. Before you throw out the next bag of trash, stop and rethink. Inside that kitchen trash bag are countless ways to make simple changes to­ward a green lifestyle.

Great Green Tip

Are you bugged by tiny bugs, fruit flies, or gnats in your kitchen? Create a natural, green cure for debugging your home. Try using a decorative bottle, or reusing a cool wine bottle, adding a small amount of apple cider vinegar and dishwashing liquid and a decorative splash like a silk flower or a handmade flower from your children to create an unnoticeable gnat trap. Insects fly in, intoxicated by the smell, and they never fly out. You will rid your kitchen of unwanted pests without spraying and with a little decorative flare!


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  • swedal profile image

    swedal 7 years ago from Colorado

    We do too Simone! It is amazing some of the things we can use to entertain kids and get them into recycling.

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

    Oh, I totally do this. Great Hub!