Reuse Before you Recycle

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Millions upon millions of tons of plastic bottles and cardboard boxes get tossed into bins each day to get recycled.  It is a great habit to get into to help reduce the need for landfills, and also reduce the number of trees and amount of petroleum we use to create these products from scratch.

I was reading a recent article about creative ways people use recyclable products around their house and in business.  One article I read was a woman from California who takes various pieces of aluminum from cans, and plastic from plastic bottles combined with various organic matter such as leaves, grass, twigs and so on to make arts & crafts.  Sure she is going to solve the issue by herself this way, but it is a start and she is contributing.

Personally I like to reuse my plastic milk containers to make big blocks of ice to use for cookouts or when I go camping.  What I do is rinse out the jug and fill it with water then place it (without the cap) in my freezer.  In a couple of days I have a huge, solid piece of usable ice.  When I need it I cut the plastic jug to release the ice and then recycle the plastic as normal.  This way I get a couple of uses out of every container. 

When I find myself with too may plastic containers, I will use them as potting planters for plants.  Pots are normally made out of plastic anyway so why would I go out and buy them when I can make my own out of products I am just going to throw into a bin.  Here is how I do it.  It does not matter if it is a one gallon milk jug or a 16 ounce plastic bottle from your soda, juice or tea.  Simply rinse out the container, take a good sharp knife (utility knife works best) and cut the container in half separating the top from the bottom.  At this point you can toss the top into the recycle bin (unless you have a creative use for it).

Take the bottom of the container (which you are going use) and cut three holes to allow for drainage of excess water.  Fill with dirt or potting soil and plant your flowers.  It is that simple.  I do this all of the time and it helps save me some money while enjoying a favorite hobby of mine, gardening.

Are you shipping any big packages anytime soon?  If so, avoid bubble wrap and those Styrofoam peanuts.  Instead shred up some newspaper and cardboard and stuff your packages with it.  You will be reusing these items (and someone on the other end can reuse them as well), and whoever receives them can just recycle the material themselves or do what I do and use the shredded material as bedding for my vermicompost bin.

As you can see I have given you a number of great examples to kick start those creative juices and learn how to reuse material before you have to recycle it.  Just remember that garbage isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a product that no one has figured out how to use it for something just yet.  Working together and doing the little things everyday will add up to a lot over time and we can all benefit from it.

About the Author:
Mr. Tucker is a regular contributor on Bukisa, an online community for writers that pays them for their articles.  You can also follow Bruce on Twitter.

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