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Recycle, Reuse: Green Living Ideas For The Home

Updated on July 20, 2011

Why Should I go Green?

Some people go green to be more respectful of the environment or make our earth a better, healthier place to live. But the truth is, it doesn't really matter why you choose to go green. I try to be as green as possible simply because it feels right and it saves me money. I don't know about you, but I would much rather be traveling! Going green doesn't require you to change your entire lifestyle, there are many easy ways to go green. Here are a few ways you can reuse, recycle and go green at home with very little effort.

Using Less Energy

Okay, so this one might be a little over done but it really can make a huge difference and an article about living green would not be complete with out it. Using less electricity is good for you (lower power bill, yay!), but it is also great for the environment no matter what fuel source creates your electricity. Even if you use wind power. (There will be more power to spread around!).Here is a few tips that will save you money on your electric bill and get you on your way to going green!

  • Turn the AC up to 78. You have heard it before, now go do it! You won't melt, I promise
  • Wrap old hot water heaters in blankets. (just make sure you aren't creating a fire hazard)
  • Use those new fangled curly light bulbs. Yes, they are a bit expensive off the shelf. But, they last longer- I have yet to replace any of mine.
  • Unplug it when you aren't using it. You don't have to unplug your TV every time you use it, but try to unplug items you don't use very often like your sewing machine or the lamp in your guest room.
  • Turn off fans when you aren't in the room. Fans work by moving air over your skin to cool you off, they do very little to cool an unoccupied room.

I'm done telling you all the things you already know, now on to cool stuff!

Basket made from recycled magazines
Basket made from recycled magazines

ReUse and RePurpose!

There are unlimited ways to reuse items around the house. These are just a few ways I like to reuse, if you have more please share!

  • Dish sponges get nasty and start to smell after a while. Don't toss 'em out, instead toss 'em in the microwave for ten to twenty second bursts a couple of times. It will kill all the bacteria and they are ready to use again! (Or toss them in the washing machine.)
  • Old Towels have a million uses. I needed more dish cloths so I ripped up an old towel into squares and used the zig zag stitch on my sewing machine to keep them from unraveling. Old towels can also be used to dry off pets after a bath, to wipe your hands while working on the car, grease a cast iron skillet or do anything that might ruin good towel!
  • Kitty Litter Buckets are so very useful! I specifically buy the big buckets of litter (the ones with the attached handle, usually its a 20 or 30lb bucket) so I can reuse them as planters (use a screw to make holes so the water can drain), mop buckets and to collect rain water so I can water my plants. They also work really well as stools for kids or while gardening.
  • Plastic Grocery Bags pile up in my home no matter how much I try to remember my reusable bags. Use them to pick up doggy poop, line smaller trash cans, as stuffing when you mail fragile items, or to stash dirty diapers in your car or bag when there is no trashcan in sight! Get creative, there are a million uses for these bags! Also, many large grocery store chains have a recycling box out front for plastic bags.
  • Coffee Grounds pile up in my trash can so quick if I don't reuse them. They make great garden fertilizer, particularly if you have a container garden. Grounds can also be used to scrub really dirty pots or as a facial scrub. You can also save the garbage can space and toss them out in the yard.
  • Plastic Jars are great for storage. I use one to hold pencils and scissors on my craft desk and another to hold buttons. Jars with screw tops, such as a peanut butter jar, can are very handy to hold small pieces like from a board game. After a good cleaning, they can also be used to store snacks on the go so you don't have to take the whole bag.
  • Plastic Milk Cartons or Juice Bottles can be cut and used as a scoop for dog food, a sand box toy or a watering can. Just cut off the top third of the bottle but make sure you cut around the handle.

Cleaning Up Green!

Are you thinking "Hey, I don't mind reusing stuff and turning off the lights, but I'll be darned if I will have a dirty house!" Not to worry! There are lots of green cleaning recipes that are easy to make and are much cheaper than those store bought chemicals. Yes, you can make every cleaner you will ever need in your home from green materials. You could, but I don't either! Remember living green does not have to be an entire life style change, a few small changes really do make the difference!

  • Laundry Detergent It is very easy to make your own, but I just use a national brand that is dye and chemical free. And I don't feel bad about it!
  • Good Old Bleach is safe. environmentally friendly and has been around for hundreds of years. I don't feel bad about using it!
  • Lemon juice is very effective at getting stains off of counters and sinks. (you can even use the juice you buy in the round plastic lemon for cooking!) Just sprinkle a little on, rub it around and let it sit for a bit! It can also work to lift stains off of white fabrics
  • Vinegar should always be on hand, it has a million and one uses! Pour it down drains to get rid of odors, use to clean counter tops, clean grease up, wipe down the inside of the fridge, remove mineral deposits....and on and on. Seriously, a million and one uses, I'm just not gonna list 'em all!

Terrible picture of me, but I made a new hat made out of an old sweater.
Terrible picture of me, but I made a new hat made out of an old sweater.

Living Green Does Not Have to Be A Pain!

Go hard or go home might make a great football slogan, but in life it is rarely that simple. The truth is that living green should always be a work in progress. Strive to do what you can, when you can. And when you can, do more! Use reusable sandwich boxes instead of sandwich bags, use metal water bottles instead of buying plastic ones (or, reuse the plastic ones and freeze them and you will have cold water all day!), and use old clothes to make new clothes. Going green can be lots of fun and save you money.

How Green Are You?

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    • Robikan profile image

      Robyn J Williams 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Excellent tips!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Love the hub! You are a kindred spirit, as I love to be thrifty and green. I recycle what I can, give away for others to reuse, or find another use for it myself. This reminds me of my hub about 10 common household items that I rarely buy. Why? Reduce, reuse, recycle. Like you say, plastic bags, old cloths, etc.... I look forward to reading more of your hubs!

    • raeyecarlos profile image


      7 years ago

      True, the hat is really pretty. :)

      In cleaning counters and other surfaces, I find it also more efficient to add baking soda to the lemon and vinegar.

    • danielleantosz profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Great idea jessica! and thanks, the hat turned out better than I thought it would!

    • JessicasPulse profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      Great tips! I didn't know you could reuse sponges that way, that's great! I love that you can use lemon and vinegar for a lot of things. Have you ever used a lemon to clean your microwave? Squeeze the juice in water in a microwaveable bowl and microwave for 8-10 min, and all the nasty stuff in there loosens up, so awesome. Also, I love your hat! ;)

    • CWanamaker profile image


      7 years ago from Arizona

      Your cleaning tips are great. People shouldn't succumb to the corporate branding of toxic chemicals when a lemon and some water can clean something just as well. Voted up, and useful.


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