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Use me!

Reducing and recycling…I’ll admit, there some effort there. But reusing? That falls right in step with lazy environmentalism! Below are some tips for reusing that I have found pretty handy. If you have an item you aren’t sure how to reuse, the internet is full or resources. Try searching using the phrase “uses for ‘item’” and you’ll usually have success.

Bag it – Every week or so, you’re bound to come home with grocery bags. Now, most stores have a recycling station near the door where you can return used bags. But they are also the original multitaskers. They’re great for cheap lunch sacks, doggie-doo bags or a handy trash bag for your car.
There are plenty of commercially available doo-dads that can help store the bags but it our house, an empty Coca-Cola 12-pack can box serves the purpose. With a little stuffing, you can fit a lot of bags and the box can sit under the sink ready to dispense when you need it. (And hey, you’re reusing the Coke box!)

Crafty packages – If you have kids or your neighbors have kids or even if you were once a kid yourself, check with teachers and schools to see if any classes are currently collecting used items for crafts. Already this year, I’ve seen an igloo made of milk jugs. Egg cartons, baby food jars, paper towel tubes and oatmeal containers are some of the usual suspects when it comes to class crafts.

Bottled up – Re-using bottled water bottles may not be the best idea. Some media have falsely suggested that reusing the bottles could leech chemicals from the plastic into your drinking water. That’s not the case but, for me, there is an issue with the amount of bacteria that can build up. Your mouth is filthy. And reusing bottles that you can’t sanitize is kind of sketch. But your bottles can have second life.
The tops of bottles can make good disposable funnels and the bottom halves can make good temporary plant pots. If you have a bird feeder, you may have been unlucky enough to receive a shower of birdseed from one those huge bags as you reached to refill a feeder. Filling a two or three-liter soda bottle with the seed (using a newly fashioned funnel to prevent spills) can make storing and sharing the birdseed a lot easier.

Curtains! – An old shower curtain can have any number of uses after gets to be too this or that for it’s original purpose. It can be a light-duty tarp or line your car’s trunk next time you’re bringing home potting soil or the like. One of the coolest ideas I’ve come across is a use for the old cloth shower curtains.
Cut the curtain up into squares and sew them together like a pillow. Stuff them with used plastic grocery bags. They make great, one-season cushions for outdoor furniture.
Check back next week when we take a look at easy water conservation that doesn’t include cutting out any shower time!

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