It is stated that the U.S. is the most wasteful society by sending 236 million TONS of solid waste into landfills each year. That's roughly 4.5 pounds of trash per person, per day. Lots of things end up at the dump that can be reused, if not by you, by someone else. Today you can buy recycled paper, recycled clothing, recycled packaging, recycled rubber shoes, recycled books, recycled toys, and basically everything at thrift or second hand shops. By extending the life cycle of products, we are cutting down on usable garbage.
If a landfill isn't properly cared for, ground water and surface water can become toxic. Even after a landfill is closed, we still have to worry about toxic gases being released which can cause degenerative diseases. Lots of people are doing their part by using reusable paper towels, taking tote bags to shop, taking their lunches in reusable bags, using cloth diapers, recycling, and ditching plastic bottles for stainless. Here are some other ways that you can reuse at home:
Buy recycled or second hand products.
- Buy, trade, or get second hand furniture, electronics, ethical toys, books, shoes and clothing. Be sure to check out the recall list by the CPSC before purchasing any second hand baby products.
- Buy books, paper, and even puzzles made out of recycled paper. There are tons of great companies that also use soy inks.
- Green Toys is a great company that uses recycled milk cartons to build all of their toys and feeding products.
- RockLovePeace, The Measure, Soft Star Shoes, and TreeBottom are a few companies that use recycled fabrics or donate leftover scraps.
- Look for diaper swaps
Fix instead of replace.
- Instead of buying new chairs or couches, choose a new fabric and reupholster yourself.
- Sew holes in your clothing or make patches instead of tossing.
- Turn tee shirts or favorite baby clothing into a quilt.
- Make your own pillows, clothing, dolls, puppets, and other toys out of old clothing or even curtains. You can also buy iron on printer paper to make your own picture books out of white tee shirts.
Reuse your own trash:
- Make bird feeders out of milk cartons.
- Keep your glass containers to make your own juices, teas, or sauces.
- Save baby food jars for homemade food or to keep buttons, pins, and anything small you wouldn't want your child to ingest. Also great to put little candies in for party favors.
- Make stilts, phones, or musical instruments out of aluminum cans. Make sure they are BPA aluminum cans!
- Save yogurt containers to store pasta, sugar, flour, and even leftovers.
- Save peanut butter jars to make your own jams, applesauce, or even store candies.
- Compost leftover food.
- Save spray bottles to make your own cleaners. They are also great to spritz yourself in the heat. Or you can add lemon juice and lighten your hair while in the sun.
- Save everything from a cereal box. The boxes make great magazine holders if you cut the top off and wrap with paper. You can also use the box to ship something small. The cereal paper is great to keep to substitute for wax paper or to even pound chicken. But be sure to check with the cereal company to find out what their paper is coated with. You would want to reuse any that is contaminated with 2-methylnaphthalene.
If you do decide to make a new purchase, make sure to donate it to friends, family, thrift stores, or even Good Will. There are great books available that discuss various art projects that you can create with things you find around the house. What are things that you reuse? Do you have any fun art projects that you have created with recycled goods?