Recycling is important, sure -- but it's important not to forget the two other Rs: "reduce" and "reuse." Here are some tips on smart ways to reuse stuff you already have!
Before you recycle, can you reuse?
The name of the game is reuse, reuse, reuse!
- Turn old photographs into postcards or use in a great decoupage project.
- Melt down old wax candles and pour them, layer by layer, into a large (reused/recycled) glass jar candle holder to make a rainbow candle. (Don't forget the wick -- they're available at craft stores.)
- Have your leather shoes repaired, re-soled and polished instead of tossing them in the trash and buying new ones.
- Label garden plants with old popsicle sticks.
- Invest in several high-quality refillable pens that you can keep forever.
- Cut off the front of greeting cards for kids' art projects. (Check out these crafty placemats!)
- Donate kids toys to a local daycare center or shelter.
- Use carpet remnants (off-cuts or old carpet) as doormats or use as floor mats for your car. You can even glue scraps to the wall of your garage to protect your car door from damage.
- Crayon nubs can be melted down and combined into several larger sticks -- or even a giant multi-colored stick! You can also add them to your sewing kit to loosen sticky zippers. (And don't forget to bring home all those crayons restaurants give kids so they're reused, not just trashed.)
- Frame your favorite calendar pictures, or use parts of them (attached to paper), as a greeting card.
- Use leftover butter or sour cream containers as outdoor water dishes for your pets, or see if a local school would like to use them (perhaps for crayon storage, as plant pots or for an art project).
Before throwing anything in the trash, stop and use your imagination: "What else could I do with this?"
More ways to keep the cycle going
Sites like Craigslist and Freecycle offer a great way to give away or trade your items instead of tossing them. You'll be amazed what you can offload -- and what treasures you can find! Reusing items saves energy, landfill space and money for everyone.