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Earth Day - Pause and Think

Its Earth Day - woot!

I was thinking the other day how one of the best things we can do for the environment is to simply pause before we toss something out. Pause, and think - what else can I use this for?

Now, I have very intelligent, Earth-respecting Readers, so I know you know this, but, it does bear repeating:   Each time we get a second use out of an item, we are reducing the overall impact to the environment. That second use prevents us from using another item right away (like when you wash the windows with newspaper instead of using a brand new sheet of paper towel) and that you reduce the need for the packaging associated with the newer item (which in turn reduces paper garbage and saves trees, or avoids emitting plastic chemical into the environment). It might even mean that there is no need for a receipt - or that the one that is printed is one line item shorter - or that you don't have to go to the store - saving on gas, etc... The impact of each "re-use" might be small, but they add up when done consistently. Especially if everyone participates!

That, of course, was just a reminder from your friendly-neighbourhood-blogging-Mom.

Here are some thoughts to ensure every day items don't get wasted:
  • The Weekend comics make great wrapping paper for kids' presents.
  • Keep the newspaper - it can absorb odors in a lunch box; can be rolled up and put inside boots to help them maintain their shape/reduce odors when you put them away for the summer, can be taken camping as starter for campfires, and as mentioned above, can be used in lieu of paper towel to clean windows....
  • Keep clear plastic take-out or strawberry containers as mini-green houses for seeds you start indoors.
  • Use a mesh veggie bag (the kind onions come in) as a pot scrubber - just bunch it up and scrub!
  • Speaking of scrubbing - I keep used dryer sheets and use them to clean the bath and shower - they work wonders on soap scum!
  • Plastic berry baskets can be used as a colander to rinse a lunch-size portion of fruit or berries. Or weave ribbon/yarn through them and use to corral the kids' eraser or bottle cap collections (kids love to do this!).
  • Keep used envelopes as scrap paper for shopping lists, and make sure the "back" of paper/bills gets used too!
  • Hold on to the silica gel packets that come in bags and shoes (keep well out of reach of children as they would be harmful if swallowed) - they can help keep items from tarnishing if kept in your jewelry box or cutlery chest.
  • Donate used magazines to the doctor's office, school, or a nursing home where they will get many more reads and a greatly extended life before finally becoming recycled!
  • Paper towel tubes can make great storage for nylons - put the nylons inside and write the colour on the outside with a good marker - they won't get torn or tangled in your drawer. Or keep a paper tube in the bathroom drawer and put hair elastics around it so they don't go missing. Stick a few bobby pins on the sides too:-)
  • Use shoe boxes to organise small items (socks/underwear) inside your drawers. Or label with your child's name/school year and use to stash the year's mementos.
  •  Hold onto used wrapping paper as cushioning for care packages you ship to friends & family - ball it up and use in place of Styrofoam bits.
  • Use cracked mugs to store pencils/markers, etc. (Sand down a sharp edge). 
  • When you toss a worn-out or torn sock, don't automatically toss its partner - keep it in the kids craft stash, and make a sock puppet the next time you have a sick critter. 
This list could go on-and-on! Brainstorm ways to reuse your trash with yourself, or as a family - I haven't met a kid yet who can't think of a few good things to do with the most obscure piece of garbage ;-).

And, if you want to take it a step further - sign up for a "Give it Up for Earth Day" Challenge and put your reduce & reuse plans to the ultimate test (or give up meat/toxic cleaners/electronic use.... there's sure to be a challenge there to suit you ;-)

I'd love to hear what you and your family have come up with!!

Happy Earth Day!

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