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How to Go Green for Free - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Repurpose for Life

Updated on July 2, 2016
My city recycle bin
My city recycle bin | Source

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Have you heard the phrase, "Reduce, reuse, recycle"? It seems that I've heard it all my life, and while I have usually practiced that guideline, that mantra, in some manner, at least on a small level, I have really practiced it more passionately the past several years. Okay, maybe more than several. How about 20 or more years?

Being frugal and working toward living simpler, I try to reduce the products I buy and use. I try to reuse items I can, and I recycle every item--paper, plastic, aluminum, glass--that my city will pick up. In more recent times, I have also been trying to reuse or recycle by repurposing items for something else.

I have always tried to recycle, as soon as the program was introduced to me. Many weeks, I put out my recycle bin, while waiting two or three weeks before I even need to set out my trash bin. That's cool. It makes me feel good about doing what I can to save the environment and not waste our resources. If I can reduce, reuse, or recycle items I've used, that makes me feel I'm a part of the solution.

Whether or not you're a big believer in going green, we can all do at least a small part in just not being wasteful. And it won't cost you a thing. Living greener might--and should--even save you money.


Recycling Habits

Do you recycle?

See results

Reduce Usage

First, in an effort to live greener, reduce the amount that you consume. Cutting down on disposables will minimize the need to get rid of things in the first place.

There are things you can do to eliminate waste of trash bags, paper towels, and more common household items that I rarely buy.

Buy used clothes--at thrift or consignment shops, yard sales--to cut down on the mass production of clothing. Plus, you'll save money. Do this with the many items that are already out there. Re-use them! There are a number of ways to save money on clothing.

Reduce usage of intangible items such as cutting back on electricity by washing clothes only when dirty (yeah, you can wear them more than once), and hanging them outside to dry when possible. Use slow cookers and toaster ovens to save on electricity with the stove and air conditioning required to cool down the house again. You can also conserve on water usage and save money at the same time.


Reuse Products

Here are some great ideas on how to reuse products, ideas that I've gotten from some other writers.

Don't know what to do with empty pill bottles? Check out ways to reuse these bottles by randomcreative. She also gives some great ideas for projects on how to use wine corks. I love wine, so these are some great ideas for me!

What do you do with all those Christmas cards you get? Here are suggestions from Deb Neyens to reuse Christmas cards. Brilliant!

Anyone ever hear of making toilet paper rolls into something useful? Jamiebrock has. Jamie also makes beautiful crafts out of aluminum cans. A must see!


My city trash can
My city trash can | Source

Recycle Products

What does your local trash recycle? We have a bin (see first photo) that we can throw cans, bottles, plastics, newspapers and junk mail into. We can even deliver Styrofoam and other plastics to certain places in the local area.

Check with your own town to see what recyclables they will pick up or what you can deliver.

Compost on your own, too, by piling up kitchen scrap and leaves for use in garden beds. Here are some guidelines on what you can compost and how to do it.

Finally, check this out--pretty amazing! Mary615 tells us about a company that is working on making edible packaging. Wouldn't that really cut down on waste!


Green Living for Dummies - Book Resource

Repurpose Items

Turning an old item into an new item is re-purposing it. Need some ideas?

Deborah Neyens has some great ideas for making scarves out of old t-shirts.

Don't know what to do with all those plastic bags lying around? Stephanie Henkel makes plastic bags into tote bags. How cool is that?

Faithreaper has some really creative ideas, as she make hanging herb dyers out of old picture frames and turns old windows into message boards and flower planters. Cclitgirl makes her own stained glass windows out of old windows.

Tired of some of those old records? Randomcreative will also show you how to make some really cool things out of old vinyl records. Wow, these people are creative!

I've been trying to save money and live simpler by growing my own food. Check out these great ideas from billybuc to reuse items you may already have for making a garden. Gardening in itself is another way to live greener.


Tips on How to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle--to a catchy tune!

Learn More About the Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Do What You Can!

Just do what you can, people! I keep that "reduce, reuse, recycle" chant in my brain. Do what you can to cut down on waste, and reuse what you can . . . when you can. I find that it saves me money, too, as I repurpose items to serve a new purpose, keeping me from buying new products.

TL Poague has a unique way of reusing items, as she shares with us how to decorate the "Redneck Way." That might be worth checking out.

If you have more ideas on how to "reduce, reuse, and recycle," I would love to hear about them in the comment section. I love hearing about new and creative ideas!


© 2014 Victoria Lynn

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    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I'm always looking for ways to recycle and will go and check out some of the links you've provided.

    • drpennypincher profile image

      Dr Penny Pincher 3 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Great article- I like how you shared ideas from lots of writers on HubPages. Recycling has become automatic at my house. It feels bad to throw away anything made of paper, plastic, glass, or metal...

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Great article, Vicki! You are preaching to the choir here. Thanks for including the links to my hubs.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Glad it was helpful, Susan! These hubbers have some cool ideas!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Awesome!!! Stopping by for a second before dinner. :) Thanks for the links; well-written as always, by a forward-thinking entrepreneur: what's not to love? ;)

      Have a wonderful day dear friend! xo

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Preaching to the choir on this one. Our family is all about green. Well done...great suggestions...keep singing this song and raising awareness.

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 3 years ago from USA

      Great hub! Thanks for the link too. I enjoy reading hubs from other hubbers and their creative ways of recycling. It is amazing some of the things that can be made from these products. Great job!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Useful and Awesome. The best Go Green article I have seen. Tips are clear and forthright. Encouraged to push further for eco.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And thank you for the link...much appreciated.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      drpennypincher - I'm glad you liked the hub. I love sharing ideas from other hubbers. They have such great ideas. Like you, I would feel bad if I threw something away that coud be recycled. Thanks for the comments!

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Donna Brown 3 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      This is definitely the place to start for anyone who is looking into starting down the road to sustainability. Green living at its best!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You're welcome, Deb! Glad you like!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Aw thanks, Cyndi! Glad you like it. You're welcome on the link. :-)

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      We work really hard to reduce, reuse and recycle around here. You offer some truly creative solutions for doing so in your own home. I hope this helps out others trying to do the same in their home! Great job!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You betcha, Bill! And I see your other comment. You're welcome about the link, too. You could contribute more, I'm sure, to the topic!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I liked not only your topic but also all the shout-outs to fellow Hubbers. We recycle everything we can. On recycle day, it's almost embarrassing what we have at the curb compared to others. We even rinse and recycle our cat food cans.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I know, TL! It IS amazing--things I never would have thought of on my own. You're welcome about the link. Your hub is fun!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Victoria,

      Awesome hub here and I love your tips and plan to put them into practice, especially the less washing of the clothes!!! Thank you for sharing other hubbers' ideas on the issue and mine too. I also use old photo frames to make them into herb dryers.

      Up and more and sharing

      Have a great night,

      Faith Reaper

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA

      Great article, Vicki! It's so important for our environment to reuse, recycle and reduce consumption. Making small changes in our lifestyles adds up to big savings. Thanks so much for adding a link to my article on recycling plastic grocery bags into useful tote bags!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Oh, wow, Rebecca, that's a great compliment. Thank you so much!! I really appreciate that more than you know!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      cygnetbrown--Glad you approve! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      VVanNess I'm glad you appreciate the tips.. i'm always looking for ways to conserve. Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you're doing what you can, too!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      FlourishAnyway--Oh, yeah, the cat food cans get recycled here, too! Anything that can . . . . Good for you! I like putting in links to other hubbers' hubs. People around here have a lot of good ideas!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Faith Reaper - Glad you liked the hub! Neat about the photo frames! It's amazing how many things can be reused in new and creative ways. :-)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Stephanie--You're welcome your article is great! You're right. Just doing small things (and continually coming up with more) can save us lots!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I recycle religiously, reuse or repurpose what I can and do without many things I considered "essential" when I was younger. Kudos for encouraging your readers to this type of lifestyle, which is becoming more popular these days.

      Voted Up++ and shared

      Jaye

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting and very useful indeed. I try my best to reuse, and works out well. Your suggestions are very helpful.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

      I also love this video, and have used it in one of my hubs talking the same...

      love the repurpose ideas.

      gotta work on them :)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Jaye, you're exactly right in that more people are moving toward this lifestyle. I "do without" a lot of things now, too, that I realized I just don't need. It makes me feel freer!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      DDE--I'm glad it's useful! We can always use reminders, huh? I loved all the ideas from other hubbers!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Ruchira--You've used the video, too? That's cool!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      GREAT, Vee!! By now you must realize I'm a frugal maniac and you are a girl right after my own obsession! All ideas appreciated and thanks for the referrals to other Re-cycling hubbers!...I'll throw a quick idea out here too.

      When your blouses/shirts and tops seem to be getting old and frayed, maybe around the sleeves.....or you have a stubborn stain somewhere below the bustline....STOP! don't throw it out.

      Cut off the sleeves, and cut around the circumference just below the bustline. Stitch up a narrow hem or just surge the fabric all the way around......

      You now have a "dickie" for under a sweater or other top. I just priced dickies recently.....at $12 to $15 each. Also, when throwing away clothes that simply can't be saved or re-invented......cut off the save all buttons!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Hey Effer! Oh, yeah, I'm a girl after your obsession all right! Yeah, I like including other hubbers. So many have great ideas to contribute. Oh, my gosh! I love your dickie idea! That is the coolest thing ever! I will definitely keep that in mind! And I do save the buttons off things. I have a whole jar of them and have used them on other clothing. They would also be great for craft projects, such as decorating containers or picture frames. Great comments, Effer!!

    • fiftyish profile image

      Andy Aitch 3 years ago from UK & South East Asian Region

      Great article that Victoria.

      As I read through it I thought about a few t-shirts I have hanging up in the wardrobe. Three of them are about eight years old, and one other is 11 years old. They have been worn almost every month, sometimes a few times, yet they still look good have no visible signs of wearing out. If I buy a t-shirt today, I can expect it to be "rag material' in about 12 months.

      In today's cheap, and throwaway society, perhaps if we made things to last, as they once did, then recycling wouldn't have become the huge issue is has today?

      Andy Aitch

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 3 years ago from Georgia country

      A very useful and great reminder. Your tips and the links to other hubs related to recycling and reusing are absolutely great. In our wasteful society these tips are getting more popular and important.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Great ideas here. My main gripe is that although we recycle just about everything, the bins sometimes get piled in together at the recycling centre, then it goes up north to a larger site - all that trouble sorting and it gets put back together, at the same time using fuel and polluting the environment taking it all miles away. It's crazy! Makes me wonder why I bother.

      The best point is trying to recycle at home, clothes etc, without buying new; that's something I do a lot more now. Ann

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      fiftyish - That's a great point about the quality of clothing. That is true with other items as well. You make an excellent point!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      janetwrites You're right, and I do think that more and more people are beginning to move towards this kind of lifestyle.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      annart--That's odd that they do it that way! I guess we just do the best we can. I do as you do and rarely buy anything new anymore.

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      Really great suggestions, I like this. I can do better in my Reduce, Reuse, Recycle... But it's not to late starting my improvement!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      They tell us they recycle as one would expect, then they do something underhand like that!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      kerlund74--it's never too late!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      annart--That's bad. They are totally undoing some of the positive benefits of recycling!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      Great Hub. We just all need to be more aware of what can be recycled instead of being tossed away! Thanks for the link on my article.Voted this up and shared all around.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You're welcome, mary615, for the link. Yes, I think we all need to be more aware, as you say. Thanks!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      This was very helpful. I loved it. I try and RRR whatever I can - my city allows - bottles (glass & plastic), cans, boxes, plastic bags. I use what I can when I need something and get an idea.

      I cut all of my bills as much as I can (heat 65 -67, A/C 82+); water - do not leave running, no H when warm enough (except washer & shower). Keep up the good work.

      Kevin

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks for this round up of great recycling, reusing, and reducing resources! I appreciate the inclusion of my hub links.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      The Examiner--I do that, too. I turn the heat down to 60 when I can stand it--at least at night. I do the same thing with the water, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You're welcome randomcreative! You have some great hubs that reflect the Rs!

    • April Garner profile image

      April Garner 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thanks for the tips. I try hard to RRR, but I can always use new ideas. All the links you included to other hubs were great! Thanks for spreading the love to other hubbers. Great article!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      April--I always love getting new tips, too! And I love spreading the hubber love! :-)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Great article on the purpose of going green. I try to recyle as much as possible around the home. I only wish all packaging was reusable, what a difference it would make in our world.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      teaches, I wish that, too. There are still too many plastics that can't be recycled, at least in my area. And the styrofoam--that should just be discontinued. Why does it even have to be used? Thanks for your comments, as always.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      What a fantastic hub, Victoria. So nice of you to share all of these useful links. I'm bookmarking this for easy reference. I love it all - reusing, recycling, re-purposing! I wish I had one room to store and work on projects in my house. I figure I could use at least 6 spare rooms for all my good intentions :) Voted Up, UABI and sharing. Thank you, lovely lady ~ Audrey

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Useful and so great to others a shout out as well!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      vocalcoach--I could use a mansion for all the things I have going. LOL! Thanks for your lovely comments, lovely lady--right back at you! :-)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      So much appreciated, Audrey!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      You have so many good suggestions for things we really may not have thought of in the past. This was the first year I repurposed tissue paper rolls for my seedlings. I learned that you can't let them stand in water, but other than that they worked great.

      P.S. Pinning it as well.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      favored--That's neat how you reuse paper rolls. Thanks for the great comments!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 8 months ago from Central Florida

      Victoria, I'm totally with you on this. I, too put out my recycle bin each week (I've even gotten a second bin) and only put trash out maybe every other week.

      I'm all for thrift stores. I've been shopping them for years. Not only for clothing, but artwork and furniture. There are some real treasures to be found in Goodwill, Salvation Army and privately owned thrift stores.

      I make my own compost, too. In fact I've written a few articles on how to make your own compost bin, how and what to compost and several other articles on going green. There are so many things that can be done with simple white vinegar and baking soda, from cleaning to weeding without using toxins and poisoning our planet.

      Great article and a wonderful avenue for featuring other "green" HP writers!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 8 months ago from Arkansas, USA

      bravewarrior--I'm sorry I've been so late in responding! Like you, I got a second recycling bin. I've been going through papers, shredding some, throwing some away, recycling all of them. I have one bin just for paper.

      I buy all kinds of necessities and sometimes decor at thrift stores. I rarely set foot into a "real" store. I agree that there are treasures to be found.

      I have been making compost, but am holding off on gardening right now with all I have going on right now. I plan to go back to it. I have looked into vinegar and baking soda for cleaning and am working on getting rid of many of my cleaning supplies.

      It's good to be green! Didn't Kermit say that? LOL! Thanks for your comments!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 8 months ago from Central Florida

      Victoria, you can add that shredded paper to your compost bin. It's considered "brown" material.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 8 months ago from Arkansas, USA

      bravewarrior--I didn't think of that! Thank you for the tip!

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