Friday, April 4, 2008


Originally uploaded by PPDIGITAL
So it’s Friday, and as promised, I will share my ways to reuse some items I would have thrown away a few weeks ago. Let me first make a disclaimer, however. This is not about finding ways to feel less guilty about the amount of trash that I make. This is about ways that I can hopefully reduce the overall amount of stuff that I consume, and when I fail in this, to minimize my environmental impact. Obviously, it would be better to find ways to never produce a single ounce of waste ever again. That’s not super realistic for me. Realizing what we are capable of, and willing, to do, and working within those limits, is what will allow us to make changes that are long lasting, and therefore meaningful.

That said, I’ve scoured the net for ways to reuse some of my trash – so let it be known that I’m not taking credit for these as original ideas. I’m not all that creative, or I probably would have come up with more on my own. I actually thought I would find more cool, practical ideas than I did, but I guess that just reinforces the idea that reducing is really the best solution. Here are my results:

1. Toothbrushes: I plan to investigate purchasing a toothbrush with a removable head once I finish off the current stock. I probably have a dozen in my bathroom right now. So as I finish these (and the credit for this one goes to my dad) I will be using the waste-bin destined brushes for cleaning around the house. They are great for getting into all sorts of hard to reach places, like the fan cover in the bathroom, the tracks on a sliding shower door, and other nooks and crannies.
2. Mesh onion bags: I found one of these last week. It makes a great little pot scrubber if you cut the paper label out of the bag. Just fold the sides in all scrunched up so that it looks like a scrubby, and put a stitch through the middle.
3. Toilet tubes: In response to the questions (you know who you are!) I’m not giving up toilet paper any time real soon. But this idea will help me to use the leftover tubes in place of another item that I would like to cut out of my life: gift wrapping. It actually can make a cute little gift box that looks like one of those pop open party favors. Simple instructions are here. Ideally, I’d find something besides new ribbon to make it with.
4. Crayons: I don’t have any kids, but I was one once, and my mom came up with this cool idea way back when and we all loved it. We took all our old broken crayons, and rather than throwing them away, we melted them down, poured them into candy molds that we had lying around, and had new pretty crayons to color with.
5. Metal boxes from ground pepper: I’m going to fill it with sugar and throw it in my purse to carry for when I get coffee. I’ll be sure I always have unrefined sugar when I get coffee, and I’ll save the trash made from the paper packets. I’m also going to fill a few with baking soda to keep in the bathrooms for cleaning (the cardboard boxes don’t hold up well when they get wet).
6. Paper wrappings from reams of copy paper: Another gift wrapping solution. Remove wrapper carefully so you don’t tear it except along the seams. Decorate the blank side and use as gift wrap.

Other updates (keeping myself accountable!):

VTA – I mapped out my trip (Google maps now has a feature that lets you map your trip using public transportation). Turns out a 6.3 mile trip was going to take more than an hour. I figured I could walk that far in about an hour and a half and get some exercise while I was at it. It started pouring about 5 miles into my trip. I sort of forgot about having to walk back too…so I got a ride home. But I still got some exercise.

CSA – I found one that had some space available and got signed up. I should start getting my produce in a week. Hooray!

Purchases – I cheated a bit on my shopping list, but did pretty well. I did find some plastic bins for organizing my kitchen drawers on sale at Goodwill for forty cents apiece, so I grabbed those (at least they weren't new). I bought a cheese grater, but that is something that’d been on my list since December, so no problem there. I also resisted the urge to buy the one that had a plastic bottom and a cool plastic grip handle and got the one entirely made of metal. The problem is that I bought it at Ikea. That’s a hard place to get out of with only one item. I did cave in and get a wire under-desk organizer. We have no drawers on our desk and the clutter has been driving me nuts for months. But enough excuses, because today I signed up for the “Buy Nothing Challenge” on Crunchy Chicken’s blog – guess that means that shower timer will have to wait a little more than two weeks. The good news is that we’re still allowed to buy food.

Shower waste water bucket – I found a five gallon bucket in the garage. I have put it in the shower for the last three days now, and my plants thank me for that. What really amazed me was the volume of additional water in the bucket on the day that I washed my hair. It was more than twice the amount on the non-hair wash days. Can I get away with washing on every third day rather than every second? I’ll look at the calendar and make sure I don’t have to be anywhere before I test it out.

Buying in Bulk – Kidney beans grow a whole lot when they’re cooked. I now have nine cups of them. Recipe suggestions anyone?


Debbie said...

Your blog has been very educational and certainly made me stop and think. Some random thoughts and items I have read about recently ~ *instead of granite counter tops I am investigating recycled glass counter tops. They are eco-friendly. * On June 1st, China is outlawing the thin plastic bags and Australia is planning a gradual phase-out by the end of 2008. Couldn't you use your old onion bags at the grocery store when shopping for produce? * Whole Foods Market chain has pledged to be plastic free by April 22nd, Earth Day. *Chicago has put a .05 tax on bottled water in an effort to discourage consumption.

I am going to stop buying bottled water. I don't even know how this habit of buying bottled water began but our well water tastes great anyway so I am going to start drinking from a glass - just like in the old days. I do hate the city water at the office so I will have to figure out what to drink there. Maybe rum. :)

Just a side note but it is interesting how everything is sometimes connected. I am reading 'Pippi Longstocking' with a bunch of little girls. Last week we read about how Pippi is a thing-finder. She found an old tin can and goes on to discuss all of the things she could do - Pippi was discussing recycling!

Melissa said...

I'm glad you've found it educational! That is really nice to hear. V. cool on the countertops! I bet they'll look are they on durability?

Isn't it easier to make little changes (like the bottled water) rather than an overhaul of your entire life in a weekend? That's what I'm finding anyway!

Thanks for the Pippi tip...she just may be making an appearance soon!

Debot said...

Freeze the beans. I keep garbanzo and black beans in the freeze all the time now. They are not as watery as canned. It is easy to use just the amount you want.

Melissa said...

Oh yeah...why didn't I think of that? I'm so used to seeing them in a can, it didn't occur to me! Thanks!!