Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Closer Look: Reusing

Article two in my three article series brings us to, quite possibly, the most important of the three R's: Reusing. Why do I say the most important? Well, when we reuse something instead of throwing it into the trash bin, we are essentially doing all of the R's at once - you're reducing your trash output and landfill contributions and recycling whatever it is you're reusing.

I thought that I would explore what other people had to say about reusing and I found a wonderful article, attached to a great website called Care2, all about why reusing is so awesome. You can read the article here. She had some very good insight into why reusing is so important, including the list that I have included below.
  • "Reuse keeps goods and materials out of the waste stream"
  • "Reuse advances source reduction"
  • "Reuse preserves the “embodied energy” that was originally used to manufacture an item"
  • "Reuse reduces the strain on valuable resources, such as fuel, forests and water supplies, and helps safeguard wildlife habitats"
  • "Reuse creates less air and water pollution than making a new item or recycling"
  • "Reuse results in less hazardous waste"
  • "Reuse saves money in purchases and disposal costs"
  • "Reuse generates new business and employment opportunities for both small entrepreneurs and large enterprises"
  • "Reuse creates an affordable supply of goods that are often of excellent quality."
So what can you do to reuse the things in your home before they end up becoming trash?

I found a website called The Recycling Revolution that lists a ton of ideas for re-purposing potential trash items and the list is divided up by whatever object you want to reuse. I glanced over the list and discovered a few ideas that I hadn't thought of before, like tacking the empty cereal box to the wall and cutting a hole in the bottom front to make a plastic shopping bag dispenser.

The other day my mother and I had a conversation about reusing plastic sandwich baggies. I used to use them until they got visibly dirty, which sometimes took a long time to happen, and then switch them out for new ones. Well, my mom pointed out to me that if you don't wash them in between uses you are accumulating bacteria that are probably loving being stuck in a warm plastic bag. So, the moral is wash your plastic baggies in between uses to insure that you won't get sick from trying to save the planet. I found this baggie drying rack at Gaiam.com which I think I might invest in for this purpose.

I also found a website that has TONS of resources for reusing all sorts of things. It's called Green Living Ideas (aptly named I think) and is a great portal to all the information you might ever desire on reusing the potential trash items in your home. This is a site that I think I will be spending quite a bit of time on in the coming weeks.

Well, there you have it. Reasons why reusing is so important and several new websites that you can use as resources in your own quest to recycle and now reuse. Stay tuned to learn all about reducing in my next article!

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