Recycling is sooo 1990s. While it’s obviously better to recycle products than to send your cast-aways to a landfill, it still takes energy to clean and process your discarded Sunday Times into fresh recycled notebook paper, or your used salsa jar into recycled glass windowpanes. Luckily, there is more than one way to give old items new life (not to mention composting, which can reduce your household trash output by 80%). Here are a few creative repurpose ideas from ele reader Nichole, comment below with ideas of your own:
1. Use your old yoga mat as a gear mat in the trunk or back of your car. My friends use their old mats to protect the backseat of their car from their dog’s muddy paws.
2. Paperboard egg cartons can be refilled with eggs from a local seller (try your local farmer’s market if you don’t see any chicken coops nearby). When you are done with that, use the individual cells to start seedlings for your summer garden, and then compost what is left after this last step.
3. Brown paper bags (come on, we all forget our canvas grocery tote once in a while) have been used for ages to cover and protect school textbooks or precious hardcovers. You can also use them to wrap mail or gifts. Use nontoxic paints for festive occasions and encourage the recipient to reuse or recycle the wrapping.
4. Do your endocrine system a big favor and get rid of your plastic Tupperwear. Empty Justin’s Nut Butter jars are the best small-serving food containers ever! (Small salsa jars also work…anything short and wide.)
5. Birthday cards are a thrill to open on the big day, but they don’t have to sit around and collect dust for the following weeks and months. Cut off greeting card covers and re-purpose them as post cards.
6. From tin can to mood lighting: Fill an empty, clean tin can 3/4 of the way with water and freeze. Once frozen, take a hammer and several different sized nails, and hammer out a pattern of your choice on the sides of the can. The ice inside keeps the can from caving in as you hammer. After you drain the melted ice, add an organic Lumia (or beeswax) candle and watch the light dance—it’s better than television.