Recycling gets most of the headlines and even its own day to celebrate this month, but the other two Rs, reduce and reuse, deserve even more credit because they actually prevent discards—no recyclables and no trash.
Here are seven simple ways to incorporate reuse into your day:
1. Carry a reusable water bottle. Reusable water bottles reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy used to produce plastic, and transportation costs to get water to stores. Tap water is just as good as bottled water (and much cheaper!). If you love the taste of filtered water, invest in a water filter pitcher that you can use at home or the office.
2. Keep a reuse bin in your kitchen. Anytime you come across a paper clip, twist tie, paper tube, plastic tub, glass jar, rubber band, plastic bag—anything that can be reused!—place it into this bin. Before purchasing anything new, look through your reuse bin to see if you can use what you already have on hand. Make sure to label and organize the bin so that you use what’s inside!
3. If anyone in your family packs a lunch or snack, use a reusable lunch box or bag and washable containers. The bag and some ice packs can also act as a mini cooler. You can even reuse an old drink bottle to make your own ice pack. Just fill an empty bottle about three-quarters full of water, leave the lid off, and set it into the freezer. By morning, you can screw on the cap and, ta-da, you’ve created an ice pack. Say goodbye to brown bag lunches and single-use plastic snack bags!
4. Bring your own reusable shopping bag to the store. You can find these bags at most major retailers, or, if you’re feeling crafty, make your own with old fabric or a worn T-shirt and some creativity. Some stores will even give you a small discount for using your own bags. Keep the bags in your car or by the front or back door so you never forget to use them.
5. Use cloth napkins and dish towels in the kitchen instead of their paper counterparts. Clean up any large messes with rags made by cutting up old clothing or bath towels. Throw everything in the wash and use it again!
6. Turn leftovers into new meals before they go bad. Make yesterday’s grilled chicken into chicken fettuccine or transform old stir-fry vegetables into taco filling.
7. Visit your local library for books, CDs, and DVDs instead of purchasing new ones. Some libraries even have magazines to check out so you can avoid the extra paper waste.
Reuse doesn’t have to be time-consuming or require super-human craft skills. You can easily make it part of your routine. If you reuse every day, it will be easy to reduce your waste and make your life a little more eco-friendly!
Photo credit © iStock.com | Alex Belomlinsky