You can "reuse" materials in their original form instead of throwing them away, or pass those materials on to others who could use them too! Remember, one man's trash is another man's treasure! Here are some examples of reuse...
- Take along washable cups or travel mugs instead of disposables; a lot of restaurants and stores will be glad to fill or refill your own mug.
- When you do use disposables like plastic cups, plates, utensils, and plastic food storage bags, don't throw them away! Wash and reuse them—most of them will last for a long time with many uses. They may not cost much to replace, but it doesn't make any more sense to throw away those things than it does to throw away your bicycle after one use.
Hints for Parents
And speaking of bicycles (or other durable goods like washers, dryers, etc.), why not repair them rather than replace them when they break? This is another form of "reuse." New is not always better, nor it is always necessary. You'll be helping your environment, but your pocketbook will thank you too!
When you do decide to replace something large and "reusable," be sure to donate the old one to charitable outlets like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Vietnam Veterans, and the many others that are probably in your area. Most of the time the item can be repaired by those groups, and then redistributed into other homes rather than landfills.
Hold a yard sale or give-away. And ask your neighbors to join in, too—this shares the work and increases the number of unused things that can find new homes and new uses. And your local recycling/solid waste office may run a "swap shop" at recycling centers.
When you do need to purchase something, check those yard sales and charitable outlets first to see if they have what you need before selecting something new.
Use cloth gift bags and stop ripping the paper off gifts! If you remove the wrapping paper carefully, you can use it again, and there's nothing wrong with doing just that! And don't forget to use canvas or cloth bags when shopping so you don't need to make the choice between "paper or plastic."
Use washable table napkins instead of paper napkins—cloth napkins are usually much larger and more absorbent than paper products, and they can dress up your dinner table too!
New baby? Buy washable cotton diapers (look for them at yard sales or charitable outlets). Check the yellow pages to see if there is a diaper service in your area. If you select those with Velcro wraps, reusable diapers are just as convenient and may even be cheaper than disposable diapers.