Are you fulfilling the 3 Rs at home? The aphorism is so overused, it almost might seem like “reduce, reuse, recycle” should go without saying.
There is no way out but to take steps towards making our planet more sustainable and reversing some of the damage we have already done to it. I believe if each one of us can do our bit in a teeny tiny way, the positive effects will take place on a larger scale.
1. Use reusable bags instead of plastic
We use so many unnecessary plastic bags a day for various purchases. Multiply this per week, month, and year. The answer is staggering number! Make your own cloth bags out of old garments and reuse them. You can even colour code them for different tasks. Remember to wash and dry them out in the sun.
2. Covert old sheets, towels and clothing into bags, wipes and dusters
Old textiles such as sheets, towels and cotton shirts can easily be turned into wash rags and cloth bags with a good pair of scissors. Throw the old items into your next load of laundry to make sure they’re clean before they take on new life, then simply cut them up into rectangles with a sharp pair of scissors. Store them with your cleaning supplies and they’ll be ready for your next spring cleaning.
3. Repurpose glass, plastic and cardboard containers
One of the best uses for empty plastic soft drink and soda bottles is as a planter for flowers and herbs. Take an empty 1 or 2-liter bottle and cut off the top two thirds, leaving the bottle’s bottom third. Wash it thoroughly and voila! You have a reusable flowerpot.
In addition, empty glass and plastic jars make excellent kitchen storage and can be used as mixing containers for marinade or salad dressing.
And, if you’re a shoe shopper, keep in mind that empty shoe boxes make great storage bins for sundries like jewellery, toiletries and household items.
Mason jars or old milk jugs make pretty vases. Water friendly plants grow well in them and they look quaint with a kind of retro touch.
You can look up many green living ideas on Pinterest that will show you creative ways to recycle plain glass jars into pretty home-products.
4. Reuse your Home Delivered Newspaper
If you still get a print newspaper delivered to your home, you may already be aware that there are several ways to reuse that newspaper once you (and the rest of your family) have read it. You can use it as packing paper for fragile china, wrapping paper for gifts, or as a cleaning aid. Simply dip crumpled newspaper in water mixed with a splash of white vinegar and clear up those windows in an instant, without harmful chemicals.
5. Designate a Kitchen Drawer for Plastic Bags
Oftentimes people will use plastic shopping bags once and throw them away. Instead, designate a drawer in your kitchen where you store plastic bags so that they can be reused. Larger plastic bags can be used as dustbin liners. Milk and bread bags can also be reused to store meats, fish and veggies. I know a friend who makes a carry bag out of his pet food thick plastic bags.
6. Donate old clothes, books and Items
There are many homes and social and religious institutions who accept used clothes, books, and other items you may not use at all. Besides, children, budding artists and creative folks are always on the look- out for interesting things to re design and re purpose. Offer items you don’t use to them. Whether it’s your creative little grand- daughter or next-door neighbour, there’s usually someone around who’s interested in being creative. If you know a budding artist, you can provide supplies with recycled materials from your home.
7. Reuse envelopes, gift paper, paper bags for re gifting, crafts
Even the smallest bits of pretty fabric and paper can make a big impact. Turn them into strips of decorative tape and you’ll have beautiful trims ready to use.
8. Don’t hoard bottle caps
Most people have a fetish with hoarding drawers of unnecessary caps. Get the creative juices flowing and make a tray or carton by gluing together these caps. In one of my offices, we used to have a notice or vision board made from used wine corks.
9. Recycle Electronics
Even if you’ve tried everything you can to revive your electronic device, laptop or computer, don’t just dump it in the garbage. You can donate it to local electricians who can fix it or send it back to the manufacturer that will end up recycling the body and parts for other products. Look up the manufacturers of your devices and find out about their recycling programs.
10. Our Good Old Kabadiwala (aka Jaripuranawala)
In the good old days, these men came to your door to help you recycle your waste. Today, in some cities there are not as many (who come to your doorstep) as before, but there are loads of them online (see below); where you can also sell you scrap online.
A thumb rule is to think. Think of how much you consume, think of how you can dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way, think of ways you can re- use the things you buy.
If you have ways that we can recycle better, do share your tips with us at: email@example.com
Some websites that offer recycling: