Here are some of the best re-uses I've found:
- Twisty ties (from bread bags and the like): If you're very adventurous, you could knit yourself a plant cover. Or, more simply, I can vouch for these being really great for identifying keys! I have front and back door keys that look exactly the same, and I'd spent the last eight months or so cursing them every time I had to open my door. This solution is free, good for the environment, won't wear off, and can be felt in the dark. Plus, it looks snazzy:
- The... uh little square bread tabs (do they have a name???): I've used these to label cords with, rather than wrapping tape around them. Again, free and helpful. And not so sticky:
- Note: both of the above items also make great stitch counters for you knitters out there!
- Glass jars: Simply fantastic for organizational purposes. I should have taken a before and after picture of my cabinet, but simply taking things like cotton swabs and bandages out of their original packaging and into cleaned jars has made a huge difference. Plus, since the jar is clear, you can see exactly what's in it.
- Old prescription bottles: Sadly, these are rarely recyclable (as far as I know). However, there are many options for their reuse. Some of the best ones are as holders: for quarters in cars, small stuff like sewing needles and thumb tacks, an easy jewelery holder, a good way to hold bandages or tampons that preserves their integrity or a teeny first aid kit. I read online the idea of giving them to smokers to drop their butts in to (rather than on the ground), but a smoker friend of mine pointed out that smokers who don't care enough to drop their butts on the ground probably won't care to deal with it anyways. Nonetheless, I plan to harass people I know about it-- cigarette butts cause all kinds of nastiness for wildlife. These can also be great ice packs-- put some water in and stick 'em in the freezer, and they can be used for small boo-boos or for lunches. I wouldn't pull the ice cube out of there to use, just because there may be chemicals from previous RX's or the plastic itself. Finally, if you are not a crafty person, many vets, animal shelters, and homeless shelters will accept them as donations. So see if your local ones do, and you can be both environmentally and morally fantastic.
- Wine corks: Oh the huge number of these I have hanging around... Again, craft-ibilities abound: cork board, trivet, place holders, and even more!
- Beer caps: Much like wine corks, there are a lot of options once you start looking: boot scrapers, checkers, table tops, or coasters.
- Onion and orange bags: These are great to wrap around sponges, tie with a twisty ties, and use as scrubbers.
- Non-recyclable plastic tubs: Another good organizational holder. I also use some for plant watering and in-kitchen compost collection. However, I would only use them to plant non-edible plants in: I worry about the plastic degrading and getting into the plants.
- Plastic bags and wrappings of all shapes and sizes: Until I train my kitty to use the toilet (you think I'm joking? oh no, just wait till this fall), I have to toss out her poo every day or two. For that reason, I getting plastic bags now and again when I went to the store. However, I realized that is lame. And then I started noticing how many plastic bags I just toss sans poo: large chip bags, cereal bags, bread bags, the list goes on. I've started saving them, and now it's not a problem. I'm also going to try using the same bag a few nights in a row to fill it up before tossing it-- I'm going to keep the poo in the bag inside of a box some kitty litter came in to avoid the smell getting bad. Updates to come...
- Food scraps: Compost!!!! More on this to come...
- Dryer lint: Dryer lint can be used to make papier mache, clay, or paper as a neat craft. It also can make a great fire starter or be added to compost. You can also use it as soft packaging for small fragile things. I would caution against two uses I've seen on the internet: as bird or squirrel nesting or as stuffing for children's toys. Someone pointed out that lint does not dry quickly, so providing it to animals as nesting could get them soaked and potentially kill them due to the cold. Further, lint is extremely flammable so not so great for toys.
In some of these ideas, I've written about donating items as re-using them. Don't worry: there will be a whole separate blog entry about how and where to donate unwanted items.
Do you have other ideas? AWESOMER ONES??? Think any of my ideas or opinions were so very clearly absurd? Lemme know. The comment button is for just that...