Reduce Reuse Recycle

How Can I Reuse?


We've listed some ideas below to get you started on reusing items. 

These recommendations include ideas for keeping and reusing items, and ideas for giving, sharing or donating items to others for reuse. 

Once you get the hang of it, you will come up with plenty of your own ideas for reuse!

Wash these thoroughly and reuse them.  For example, you might use an old wine bottle for cooking oil.  Refill the bottle and keep it near the stove.  It is prettier and takes up less space than an oil can

If you buy things online or through catalogues, keep the shipping boxes and put them in your attic or garage for storage.  Use them for packing up winter or summer clothes or for shipping items to others when you mail a gift, etc.

Don't throw away small amounts of paint.  Look at the colors you have and mix them to come up with a different shade of paint.  OR, use a little of each color to accent walls or paint trim.  You might be surprised at the results

Use empty relish and tomato sauce jars to store leftovers

Small Plastic Containers
Use takeout plastic containers or plastic quart milk containers to send leftovers home with family members.  You won't have to ask for the containers back, and your family can use them to store leftovers.  OR, use them to sort and store your nuts, bolts, screws and nails in your garage

Place a sticker with the new address over the top of the old mailing address and, if you like, print stickers that say 'this is a reused envelope'

Plastic Bottles
Rinse these thoroughly and use them for water when you jog, bike or exercise.  Fill them with juice or another healthy drink and put them in your child's lunch bag

Reuse cards by carefully cutting off the personalized section and writing your message on the remaining blank side.  OR, use a large needle and yarn and sew a new blank page on the back, so that the card looks like an old-fashioned book OR, glue colored construction paper over the personalized section and write on that OR use the picture on the front to decorate your house by putting a pretty piece of ribbon through the top edge and hanging it on a holiday tree, or creating 'tent cards' for place settings at the table


Does all of this make sense?

If so, consider this idea:

In addition to reusing your own items, and giving things to others to reuse, you should also consider FINDING old things you can reuse for your next project.

Look in thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army, and scouring salvage yards, swap and consignment centers and landfill swap stations. 
You may find all the supplies you need to build that storage shed in your back yard, or a tree house for your kids.

Or perhaps you will find a suitable desk and chair for your new home office, or some fencing you need to fence in the yard for your new puppy.

While you are there, you can donate your own items for others 

Here are a few suggestions for things you may wish to donate, either in exchange for a tax write-off or just as a donation to an organization that can get these items to those who need them:

  • Shelves
  • Binders
  • Staplers
  • Tape Dispensers
  • Serving Trays
  • File Cabinets
  • Tables and Chairs
  • Desks
  • Computers
  • Fax Machines
  • Printers and Copiers
  • Used Lumber
  • Clothing
  • Paint 
  • Bolts of Fabric 
  • Sewing Machines
  • Crates
  • Furniture
  • Toys
  • Phones
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Buckets 
  • Brooms
  • Shovels

You will soon learn that reusing products and items adds value for everyone.  What you no longer want, someone else may find valuable.
In return, you may find things you need and want for reuse, and avoid paying top dollar for new items. 

Before we leave this section, it is worth noting that the amount of waste created by each person has nearly doubled in the last twenty years, increasing from 2.7 pounds per person, per day to 4.4 pounds per person, per day.

waste in year 1980                    waste in year 2000
                        1980                                                               2000


The best way to reduce this amount is through reuse. 
Reuse is even more effective than recycling because, unlike recycling, reuse takes no energy, skill or resources to process an old product and create a new product.
Did you know that, by all accounts, between 2% and 5% of all waste deposited in landfills is reusable?

Yet, we are nowhere near those percentages in what we reuse!
It is true that we have gotten better at some things! 
In the year 2000, the United States successfully reduced its landfill contributions by 55 million tons, when compared to the annual average for the previous decade.

  • Nearly 30% of that reduction came from containers and packaging materials.
  • Over 15% of the reduction came from 'non-durable' goods like clothing and newspapers.
  • 10% of the reduction came from 'durable goods' like furniture, tires, and appliances.
  • 45% of the reduction came from organic debris like leaves, branches, and food scraps.

This progress is encouraging, but we still have a long way to go!

You may not be aware that there are more than six thousand 'reuse centers' in the United States today.

Some are specialized centers for things like building materials and some are more generalized collection centers.
If you want more information on these programs, you can visit the website for the Reuse Development Organization (ReDO) at:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle