Top 5 Ways to Reuse and Recycle at Home

Cristie Snyder

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses the term Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) to describe the process of reusing materials more productively over the course of their life cycle.  The EPA states that by looking at the entire life cycle of a product, you can find new ways to conserve natural resources and help keep the planet green. Let’s look at how “reduce, reuse, recycle” happens at home with five ways to reuse and recycle without leaving your house.

1. Repurpose Glass, Plastic and Cardboard Containers

One of the best uses for empty plastic soda bottles is as a planter for flowers and herbs.  Take an empty 2-liter pop bottle and cut off the top two thirds, leaving the bottle’s bottom third.  Wash it thoroughly and voila!  You have a reusable flower pot. In addition, empty glass and plastic jars make excellent kitchen storage and can be used as mixing containers for marinade or salad dressing. And, if you’re a shoe shopper, keep in mind that empty shoe boxes make great storage bins for sundries like jewelry, toiletries and household items.

2. Designate a Kitchen Drawer for Plastic Bags

Oftentimes people will use plastic shopping bags once and throw them away. Instead, designate a drawer in your kitchen where you store plastic bags so that they can be reused. That small bag that carried your milk and bread home from the grocery store can be used as a liner for the bathroom wastebasket or as a tool for cooking. Looking for a way to get your chicken or fish completely covered in that bread crumb and spice coating you just prepared?  Shake them together inside the plastic bag until every inch has been covered and presto – dinner is served!

3. Reuse your Home Delivered Newspaper

If you’re one of the few people who still gets a print newspaper delivered to your home, be aware that there are several ways to reuse that newspaper once you (and the rest of your family) have read it.  You can use it as packing paper for fragile china, wrapping paper for gifts or as a cleaning aid. Simply dip crumpled newspaper in water mixed with a splash of white vinegar and clear up those windows in an instant, without harmful chemicals.

4. Supply Artists with Creative Materials

Whether it’s your precocious 10-year-old son or your aging next door neighbor, there’s usually someone around who’s interested in being creative. If you know a budding artist, you can provide supplies with recycled materials from your home. School children often need items like rubber bands or paper towel tubes for art projects while more developed artists might use anything from old appliances to hub caps.

5. Convert Old Sheets, Towels and Clothing into Wash Rags

Old textiles such as sheets, towels and cotton shirts can easily be turned into wash rags with a good pair of scissors.  Throw the old items into your next load of laundry to make sure they’re clean before they take on new life, then simply cut them up into rectangles with a sharp pair of scissors. Store them with your cleaning supplies and they’ll be ready for your next spring cleaning.