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9 Clever Ideas for Recycling and Reusing Everything

Updated on May 10, 2017
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Audrey Hunt, music teacher, shares a true story that will tug at your heart.


Getting Started on Reusing and Recycling With These Ideas

When we recycle, we turn a products useful part into a new product. With a little creativity we can reuse a product that would get thrown out (ending up in landfills or the ocean) to make gifts or convenient items for in-house use. There are virtually endless uses for many items that end up in the trash. I have had a fun time reusing the following items:

  • Baby food jars - These make cute snow globes with a little imagination, water, glycerin, glitter and small figurines and kids love to join in this project. Check out the video to the right for easy instructions.
  • I shred all of my junk mail and envelopes to use for packing materials. This is a good way to protect delicate or breakable items. And best of all it's free. You're also doing your part to help the environment.
  • Curtains and drapes make decorative shower curtains. I've been doing this for a long time. Saves money and is easy to convert.
  • Toilet paper rolls are convenient for storing extra extension and cable cords. I've even gone the extra step and decorate the rolls to use for hiding my computer cables
  • Plastic containers that originally were filled with food, become storage containers.
  • Extra buttons that come with a new garment that sit in a drawer for years, make fun, decorative designs for clothes or home-made gifts. I sew cute buttons on my jeans as well as pockets on t shirts. Using plain inexpensive gift bags I glue on three buttons and add a bow.
  • Fill plastic water bottles with sand and use for weights.
  • Plastic water bottles also make great see through containers for nails, screws and such.
  • Fill your empty milk or cream cartons with water, freeze and use to keep foods cold.

Save and Protect Our Planet

Help to Save and Protect Our Planet
Help to Save and Protect Our Planet | Source

Conserving our Resources, Energy and Space Used in Landfills

Recycling and reusing is the process of turning one products useful parts into a new product. The end result is conserving our resources, energy and space used in landfills. Recycling is the right thing to do. And it can be fun and rewarding for the entire family.

I first began to recycle seriously about 10 years ago. Now it's a daily part of my life and I look at everything in a different light. I no longer toss things into the garbage without first trying to find a use for it.

Take egg cartons for example. Decorated, they make a very cute children's bank for sorting coins. Another good use is to jump start your garden by filling the cups with soil and planting seeds. Once the seeds sprout, divide the carton into individual cells and plant into the ground carton and all.

Donate your plastic bags to animal shelters. They often need plastic bags for cleaning and to use when walking dogs. They'll appreciate having a few extra around but be sure to ask first.

Get Creative With New Uses for Plastic Bags

Does it take extra time to recycle? Sure it does, especially in the beginning. Is the extra time worth the effort? Absolutely. Forming new habits always takes a bit more time. But the pay-back is worth it. And the good feeling that goes along with knowing you are doing your part to protect and save Mother Earth is the biggest reward of all.

Turn your plastic bags into the following:

  • Cut into strips and Knit or crochet other items from plastic bags, such as dog collars, necklaces, belts, etc.
  • Use for covering shoes when it's raining or muddy.
  • Need a shower cap? A baggy works great.

Reuse plastic bags with these ideas

Wrap around shoes to protect in bad weather or for painting, gardening or to keep carpet clean.
Wrap around shoes to protect in bad weather or for painting, gardening or to keep carpet clean. | Source
A baggy works well for a temporary shower cap.
A baggy works well for a temporary shower cap. | Source

Save and Re-Use at Vintage and Goodwill Shops

I love shopping, (what woman doesn't) but rarely purchase my clothing at the mall. Instead, I visit the local vintage shops and even Goodwill. I tuck away a nice little savings every month or so by selling clothing, handbags, scarves, hats, belts and shoes that I no longer wear to high-end used clothing shops.

After scouting out the latest fashion in magazines, television and the mall, I list exactly what I want and shop for these items at the above stores. Sometimes, I cut out pictures of outfits I find in magazines and take them with me. I have put together some very savvy combinations.

Everything I buy is either taken to the cleaners or washed and sterilized at home. This includes jewelry, shoes, handbags, hats and belts. I once bought a $500 winter coat for $26 and found a $100 bill sewn inside the lining.

This is a good way to save on clothing for the entire family. And don't forget to donate to help others.

Facts About Recycling

  • Over 46,000 pieces of plastic debris float on each and every square mile of the ocean.
  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves around 17 trees, 463 gallons of oil, 6,953 gallons of water and three cubic yards of landfill space
  • The energy saved by recycling just 1 bottle can light a 100 watt light bulb for four hours.
  • The very first municipal dump was formed in ancient Athens in 400 B.C.
  • A single super market can use a tree's worth of grocery bags in one hour.
  • 2.5 million plastic bottles are used every 30 minutes in the U.S.
  • Around 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
  • It takes 24 trees to make 1 ton of newspaper.
  • Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour and most and not recycled.

Look What You Can Do With A Bottle

7 Reasons You Should Recycle And Reuse

It just makes good sense to recycle. Besides keeping our planet clean we can donate to charities, churches and nursing homes where some residents do not have family to supply them with their needs.

Additional benefits of recycling include:

  • Helps families to save money
  • Creates more jobs
  • Diverts tons of materials away from landfills
  • Saves energy and water
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Prevents habitat destruction
  • Conserves our natural resources

Teach Your Children Recycling Habits

Children are just great when it comes to remembering to recycle. They often are constant reminders to parents to recycle. One of the best ways to teach a child is by example. Here are a few good ways to make sure your child learns how to recycle:

  • Set aside some time on a weekend to make recycling a family project. Rummage through the house gathering up un-used items: clothes, toys, kitchen ware, jewelry and anything else that hasn't been used in a reasonable amount of time. Make it fun and serve a special lunch (a child's favorite) or treat. Discuss how good it feels to make more space in the house. Ask the child how he feels about giving something he owns to a less fortunate child. Talk about the joy another child will feel.
  • Teach your children how to make crafts from items such as shoeboxes, broken jewelry, glass containers, paper plates, washing detergent containers, plastic bottles - you get the idea!
  • Talk about our planet. Point out the necessity for reducing land fills, the effects on marine life and why trees need to be protected and saved.
  • Make recycling bins for paper, glass, and plastic. Let the kids decorate them however they’d like with images of what will go inside.

Final Thoughts

Each one of us can make a positive impact on the world through recycling. Huge amounts of energy are used when new products are made from raw materials. We can help to reduce that energy and teach our children (or they teach us) to do the same.

Remember to:

  • Form new habits and awareness
  • Frequent vintage and used clothing shops
  • Adopt new ideas for reusing
  • Discuss with your family the benefits of recycling
  • Plan a family day/night for recycling and reusing projects

We have a moral obligation to protect our planet. It's up to every single one of us to stop and think about making the right choice when tossing an item out.

Reuse, recycle and remember.

However high a bird may soar, it seeks it's food on earth ~


References and Helpful Resources

How often do you recycle or re-use?

See results

Thank You ~

Thank you for being here. I invite you to leave a comment and share a recycling idea in the comment section.

© 2011 Audrey Hunt


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