Recycling. Beyond Aluminum, Glass and Plastic

When I mention the word recycle, how many of you think only of the basics?  Things like aluminum, glass and plastic?

How many take it only one step further and include paper and cardboard?

Even after that, do you really truly understand the concept of recycling?  The media pushes this idea of recycling and yet, they only touch the tip of the iceberg.  Our culture spreads ‘gotta have it now’ syndrome like wildfire and simultaneously talks about using fewer resources.  I do not understand how anyone expects the later topic to get any decent coverage.

In our house, we recycle.  A lot.  And even then, I KNOW there is still a lot more that we could be doing.  I save nearly every glass jar that comes through here.  This year, instead of going out and buying that glass sun tea jar I “had to have” last year, I used an old spaghetti jar.  It may seem odd.  At first you would think, “Well, that doesn’t make a whole lot of tea.”  It doesn’t if you use a per cup tea bag.  But if you use a pitcher sized tea bag and put 2 cups of water in it, leave it in the sun for 8 hours, it makes enough tea concentrate to make 16, 8 oz. glasses of iced tea.  Then the tea bag goes in my compost bin and the box and paper wrapper go in the recycling.  If every one who made iced tea did this, can you imagine the amount of waste we would reduce?  You don’t need a compost bin or a garden to not send the tea bag to the trash.

We reuse glass jars to freeze extra meals in single serving or 2 serving amounts.  Soup/stew/sauces, etc goes right in, cools on the counter and into the freezer it goes.  When we want to use it, pull it out, set it on a folded up wash rag in the pot.  Put in the tap water, set the heat to low and warm it all up together.  (Do NOT put the frozen jar in a pot of HOT water please.)

Cleaned out yogurt containers make for fun bath/pool toys, or small pots for seedling starters.  They can also be used to mix paints or store beads (if you can find the ones that come with plastic lids).  If you are lucky enough to have a Whole Foods in your neighborhood, it probably has a recycling bin outside of it specially designed for the #5 plastics.  Then the container can be turned into a toothbrush.

Speaking of toothbrushes, what do you do with  your worn out ones?  At our house, we have one underneath every sink to clean those nasty places where the faucet has been attached to the sink, or the drain has been attached to the bottom.  We have several in the washroom to scrub at stains.  The kids even have one in the shower to clean under their fingernails, which never seem to come clean.  As crazy as this one sounds, it can even be used as a brush for a doll.  Sanitize it in the dishwasher or boiling water first if that just grosses you out.

The list can go on, and on, and on, and on……I was raised in a house of D-I-Y to the extreme.  I can’t look at anything I want to do or have without first thinking of how I can do it myself.  My husband even brought home a plastic light dome from a bathroom ceiling that someone left at the recycle bins and I turned it into a pot.  When it finally wears out, I will take it back to the recycling bins, but until then.

I challenge you, get creative, think outside the box, instead of buying something that comes in one.  And if you do buy something that comes in one, think outside of it before you throw it away.  You might be surprised at what you can come up with and just how self empowered you will feel when you are done.



One thought on “Recycling. Beyond Aluminum, Glass and Plastic

  1. Please do a follow up to this. Growing up, my mom and dad repurposed everything. I definitely owe my craft savviness to them. I save all of my jars and plastic containers for food. I even collect containers from friends. If I don’t use it for food, I turn them into crafts.

    Luckily, most of my food is produce, which is an effort in it self to be less wasteful. I even get jars from containers from friends. I love big spaghetti jars, I use them at Christmas to gift my Christmas cookies.

    My mom used to save the trays from her healthy choice meals, and then cook in bulk and divvy the meals up and freeze them. My dad had jars in the garage filled with nails, screws, staples, steel wool, you name it, he had it, in a jar. I could go on. Lol

    Thank you for the post.

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