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healthy living

Waste not, want not Re-purpose household items

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ach day, the average American generates about 4.5 pounds of garbage. Our society creates a lot of waste. Although recycling is essentially mainstream, this landfill alternative still uses precious water and energy. Simplistic living includes using and owning less; even those who create minimal amount of trash may be surprised by how many common household items can be assigned a new purpose and, therefore have a longer life before it ends up in the landfill or the recycling bin. There are lots of no-brainers such as reusing newspaper for packing or wrapping gifts and saving the rubber bands that come on produce. But there are all kinds of things we throw away that can instead be creatively reused for another important and common purpose. Give waste a new life

Old t-shirts > rags

Worn out T-shirts can be cut into pieces and used for rags. These new pieces can replace paper towels for cleaning, dish towels for drying, and more. An additional bonus is T-shirts, especially worn ones, create very little lint to be left behind after cleaning mirrors and windows. Grocery produce bags > doggie clean up

Even those who bring cloth bags to the grocery store tend to bring produce home in the smaller plastic bags. Instead of throwing them away, store them and reuse them for cleaning up after your dog at the park. Although many parks in northern Colorado have doggie bag dispensers at our disposal, try using fewer by bringing your own. Tinfoil > wire sponge

Those perfectly good pieces of used foil 12

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wrap, balled up, can be used instead of steel wool to scrub glassware. And, after it has served its new purpose as a scrubber, you can still recycle it.

Instead of wasting it, put buckets in the shower to catch that water and later use it to water your indoor and outdoor plants.

Sidewalk chalk > silver cleaner

Egg carton > seedling starters

Ketchup bottle > pancake batter dispenser

Reusables you’ll (re)use often

Most of the small, end pieces of sidewalk chalk just get thrown away. Since chalk is a natural moisture absorber, tie a few of these scarp pieces in cheesecloth and store them with the good silver to slow tarnishing. Make no-mess pancakes with the help of an empty, cleaned ketchup bottle. Pour in the batter, then more easily squeeze out precise proportions. Cardboard tube > cord storage

The cardboard tube from a spent roll of toilet paper or paper towels can be reused to neaten or store unruly, tangled extension cords. Fold up cords and store then in a cardboard tube or make longer cords you’re using shorter and less unruly. Empty paper towel cardboard tubes can also be used to store plastic grocery bags, if you use them, for neater and more compact storage. Shower water > plant nourishment

While you are waiting for the shower to warm up, gallons and gallons of water can be flushed down the drain.

Divide an empty egg carton and you have two starter palettes for 24 seedlings. A bonus is that you can write directly on the carton to label the plant and can forego adding identification sticks of another kind. Sandwich bags

Regular packing of kids’ lunches can require using many plastic bags. Instead, think about a reusable option. LunchSkins sells a reusable sandwich bag for reducing your daily lunchprint. In Fort Collins, these are for sale at Debnroo (www.debnroo.com). Water bottle

Most in the northern Colorado region are already in the know about reducing the use of plastic bottles. Invest in one or two stainless steel or BPA-free sturdy, plastic bottles and reuse them daily. In terms of cases of bottled water? Just don’t buy them. Coffee cup

Like the concept of a water bottle, many have already caught on. But, if you’re not already bringing your own mug to the coffee shop, look into it. Especially if you visit the coffee shop regularly.


Healthy Living July 2013