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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reduce? What? You mean my money can work for me?

Reduce Reuse Recycle

We have heard this all before many times... But I realized that I learned habits for each of these principles Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in different stages of my life. I believe now, I am in the journey of refining these principles.

When I was a teen I really was about the recycle stuff. I worked hard to try and teach myself and others (mostly my family!) that they needed to recycle. I was passionate about it and I was beginning to see how much I loved to see our waste be somewhat controlled.

When I became a mother, I realized the value of those bits of recycling for amusing my ever curious, quite crafty kid! Whether it was for holding buttons or rocks, or painting pallets, beads and the like, the giant recycling bag had the purposeful item needed for any project! It also made for great bath toys, bug traps and other child like, worldly treasures.

It seems as I ease my way into my dirty thirties, I have realized that the word 'reduce' is merely a word to me. Not so much a practice... Reduce what? How much crap I buy? Question all my purchases? Always? Wow! Is it worth it? Yes!

Responsibility always is worth it! I feel better and I know I'm part of the solution. I may not always be right with my choices, I make mistakes all the time. But I'm evolving and learning all the time. Refining is the key.

Some Reduce Ideas:

Glass milk jugs: buying milk in glass bottles means that you can get your milk and bring back the glass bottle. Or say if you don't bring the glass bottles back, they make excellent vases for your fresh summer flowers.

Egg Cartons can be brought back to many farmers market people that sell eggs. They like to receive their own cartons back often and they may give you a deposit back when you purchase from them.

Buy goods in jars and glass ware rather than tin. that can be washed and reused. Tin cans have a purpose and we all have been trained to buy them, but they contain BPA in the linings and usually have more preservatives in them like Edta and such. In glass that has been canned, the heating process eliminates any harmful bacteria.

I often shop for pretty bottles when buying vinegars and such, then when they are empty, I clean them and decorate them for gifts to give away scented oils or they make nice homemade salad dressing containers. I keep wine corks, or any corks really! I love corks! They make for great crafting! I had a friend that made a moveable puppet out of corks and eye hooks once. They also make nice stoppers for your collected pretty bottles!

I buy sandwich bags about once or maybe twice a year, then just wash em and re use them.

I buy cling wrap a few times a year, tinfoil too. I reuse as much as possible with stuff like that. I wash it and store it. I like parchment paper for baking and you can reuse that quite a few times. i can usually get a coupla' years out of a roll of that. Both cling wrap and tinfoil can be recycled.

Buy Bulk! Bulk buying is more work, but it is much cheaper and you have much less waste. When you buy cleaning products in spray bottles, when they empty, buy bulk cleaning agents to refill them with rather than always buying the small amounts. This way you buy much less often. the same can be said for dish soap and hand soap. Concentrated cleaning products are even better, because you use very little, then just add water. Trust me! There are some great concentrated, natural cleaning products out there (ie: Citra Solv)

Some Reuse purposes:

-Styrofoam trays from the grocery store (unless they have stored meat) can be reused as a paint plates, glue plates all the things moms and day cares need for doing kids crafts.

Egg Cartons can be brought back to the farmers that sell eggs. They like to receive their own cartons back often and they may give you a deposit back when you purchase from them. Make sure they are clean!

Or you can use them to start your seeds inside early spring for your garden. They make perfect little seedling nests.

Yogurt containers and the like are a tough one because you can end up with so many. But you can keep them and use them for tupperware when you go some where for dinner and want to bring food back home with you or to hold the leftover food you want to send home with others.

Another wonderful purpose for yogurt containers is to protect your baby plants in the garden when you first plant them this time of year. Just cut the bottom of the yogurt containers out and gently place over your new baby plants. Tomatoes, basil and peppers are the most happy when you do this.

Keep your silver lined coffee bags and give them to crafty folk that know how to make purses and like from them. I know in our community there are a few people that collect those bags to make new things from. My friend Katie in Vernon owns a little craft business called 'Kate's Crafts' and she makes beautiful clutch purses out of woven, recycled coffee bags. Love it!

Some Recycling Tips:

Recycling is totally an evolving art form. Every few years, new ways of recycling products arises and our waste once again can be controlled that much more.

The recycling guide for our community has lots of different references to make sure your recycling gets the right place.

This is a wonderfully comprehensive website that gives you insight into all kinds of things you can do to get rid of your junk and find things you may need!

The Recyclapedia option on this website is an awesome resource for finding out what you can and can't recycle.

For example I looked up styro foam on here to see what can be done, as it is not recyclable and rather terrible in our landfills. It says that packing peanuts and clean, reusable styro foam might be accepted by UPS and other packaging depots like that.

Freecycling Network

Freecycling in Vernon is a google group that shares and asks for items that people may have or need.

You need to sort of ask to join this group and you can follow the prompts for our area on the website.

This group is monitored and there is no profit to be made at all. Most items are to be picked up in a timely manner so you need to be prepared to get it quick.

The only real rule is that before you ask for something, you give something first.

You wouldn't believe what I have seen given away on here. If you are looking for something in particular, this is a great network to try and find it at no cost.

Good luck all on your journey of the 3 R's! May we teach our children well to maintain these simple principles for proper waste reduction!