Find a New Use for Everyday Items
- Save used paper as scrap for shopping lists, notes and drawing paper for children.
- Write your shopping lists on junk mail return envelopes, or any used envelope and carry your coupons inside the envelope.
- Wrap postal packages or cover textbooks in brown paper bags that you've saved.
- Reuse newspaper as gift wrapping paper, or use as lining for your animal cage. You can even enhance your indoor compost bin with a few sheets of newspaper!
- Reuse last year's holiday cards to make this year's gift tags.
- Fill empty plastic bottles (such as mouthwash bottles) with water and freeze to use in your coolers for picnics and camping.
- Use empty yogurt, dip, or cream-cheese containers to hold individual portions of food.
- Buy a lunch bag (or lunch box!) instead of using a paper bag.
- Bring Tupperware when going out to dinner to bring your leftovers home in instead of a 'take out' bag or box for packing your lunch (or use them to pack cookies and chips so they won't get crushed).
- Turn a large pickle jar into a cookie jar or a coin jar and decorate the outside.
- Punch holes in small jar caps to create a spice or cheese shaker.
- Keep bits and pieces, such as screws or nails, in jars and know at a glance what's inside.
- Reuse aluminum foil many times (and buy recycled aluminum foil to support buying recycled).
- Thoroughly clean out used aluminum cans from vegetables or beans and cover in old paper to use as pencil, pen and marker holders.
In the Home:
- Use sponges and towels in lieu of disposable paper towels.
- Wash out sandwich bags and reuse over and over.
- Use stale bread for croutons, crumbs, stuffing or french toast.
- Use rechargeable batteries.
- Use your own coffee mug when frequenting coffee shops; bring your own mug to work instead of using disposable cups. Most coffee shops will even give you a 'good customer' discount for bringing in your mug!
- Use old toothbrushes to scrub hard-to-reach places.
- Reduce hazardous waste associated with cleaning products by substituting some less harmful cleaners. For example: vinegar and scrunched up newspaper for cleaning windows; baking powder and water for removing mold and mildew and vinegar for cleaning toilets.
- Drop a Toilet Bank waste saver in your toilet tank to save water on flushing.
- Buy energy efficient light bulbs from supermarkets, hardware stores and electrical shops. They last for around 10 years they will save you money.
- Get a bike. Do you drive five minutes to pick up a loaf of bread at the supermarket? 25 percent of all car trips are less than a mile. By riding a bike or walking for short trips, you'll save energy and money, and you just might slim down in time for swimsuit season.
In the Office:
- Make two-sided copies.
- DO NOT PRINT EMAILS. Save them electronically.
- Circulate original memos instead of making numerous copies.
- Use one-sided scrap paper for notes and drafts.
- Use refillable pens, pencils and tape dispensers. According to the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, Americans throw out 1.6 billion single-use pens each year.
- When receiving a package with polystyrene "peanuts" find a place to recycle them or that will take them back to recycle, or reuse them in new packaging.
- Turn your computer monitor off when leaving for more than an hour. Monitors use more energy than your computer does.
- Ink Jet Printers - Here's a guide to prolonging the life of ink cartidges.
With the Kids:
- Give children free reign over your unwanted papers, cardboard scraps and packaging--their creativity will take over from there.