What Does "Reuse" Mean?
The three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – present the core ideas of sustainable waste management. Talking about eco-friendly behavior, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is reducing the amount of waste (usually by choosing products without plastic packaging or with biodegradable packaging) and of course, recycling. These two actions are the beginning and the end of any waste management, but what happens in the middle? After a certain product is used, most people tend to immediately dispose of it – the product fulfilled its purpose and then it’s time to throw it away. What is usually overlooked is the fact that a lot of products can have more than one purpose, so they can be reused a greater number of times. Reuse is a practice of using an item again, after it has fulfilled its original purpose, and it is a great way to save some money, decrease pollution in the environment and activate your creative side.
What can be reused and how?
Reusing and repurposing can extend the lifespan of many household items, including old clothes, glass containers, furniture, electronics and plastic packaging. Not only will you reduce the amount of waste in your home, but you will also save a decent amount of money in the long run. Here are some ideas that might spark your creativity.
Glass jars, cans and other similar containers can be reused great number of times for various purposes. Glass jars and glass containers can be used for storing various food and pantry items, while old cans can be utilized as pots for plants, for desk organizing or making decorative items like lanterns, vases, and similar. Cans are usually made of soft metals, like aluminum, which makes them easy to cut and modify.
Old clothes and bedding, as well as towels and other old textiles, can be reused in many ways. If the clothes are still in good condition, it is best to donate or sell them. If they are not suitable for wearing, you can try to modify and turn them into new clothing pieces. If they have finally reached their end as clothing items, you can always cut your old clothes into cleaning rags or get crafty – make a braided rug, bags, some ornamental items for home, table cloths or similar. Possibilities are endless, the only limit is your imagination. Beddings can be utilized in the same way, while old towels make great washable cleaning rags.
Instead of getting rid of your old furniture right away, you can try to refurbish or repair it. Your old sofa can be turned into a new one for only a fraction of the price. Broken and furniture unfit for refurbishing can be disassembled – the wood can be reused for making shelves, tables, crates, wooden toys and many other items. With proper tools and DIY skills, you can make new and unique pieces without spending money on new furniture.
Phones and other electronics become obsolete very quickly in this day of exponential technological development. Instead of throwing away your functioning, but old electronics, you can donate or sell them. All goods have their customers – especially when it comes to electronics. When an electronic product stops working, it usually happens due to one or a few malfunctioning components, while the rest is still functional. Always try to repair your old electronics or sell the working components before deciding to get rid of them. There are many companies that repurchase and accept old electronics for refurbishing. If you do some work with electronics or just like to experiment, you can also keep the functioning components to make something new or as spare parts.
Plastic bottles, packaging and bags
Although recycling is a good way to deal with your plastic waste, certain plastic products can be used a bit more before going to the recycling plant. Plastic bottles can be used and modified in so many different ways – bottom parts can be cut off and utilized as seed starters, 2l bottles can be made into sprinklers or post for vertical gardens, 5l bottles can be cut out into bags for laundry clamps, milk jugs can be made into garden scoops and watering cans. You can even make a phone charging station out of a laundry detergent bottle, as shown in the video.
These are just some ideas, there are plenty more ways to utilize plastic packaging. If you are using plastic containers and bottles for storing food and water, pay attention to the type of plastic the packaging is made of. If it’s single-use plastic, it is not advised to use it again for its original purpose, because it may leach certain unwanted chemicals, like estrogen-mimicking compounds, into the food and water.
Plastic bags can be used for their original purpose a great number of times, so make sure to always carry your own plastic bags when you go shopping. Besides simple reuse, plastic bags can also be repurposed in a great number of ways. They can be used as fillings for lazy-bags and garden pillows, they can be woven into totes, mats, rugs, baskets, skipping ropes and similar items.
Don’t toss out your old toothbrushes, because they are excellent for cleaning dirt and grout from surfaces that are hard to reach. They can also be used for cleaning and polishing jewelry and old silverware. Empty toothpaste tubes can be modified to make cake frosting tubes – just cut off the top part along with the cap, wash away all the toothpaste, pluck a hole on the lower end and you got yourself a reusable frosting tube. Old carpets can be cut out into car mats, doormats, coasters, mats for pets, pads for moving heavy furniture and similar. Even old bicycle tires and rims can be modified and utilized in a number of ways – to make belts, tool holders, mats, paint protectors, hangers and many other items.
There are many other examples available on the internet and websites like Pinterest, with step-by-step descriptions. So grab your tools, utilize your DIY skills, and make the most beautiful and unique items by simply reusing old materials.
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