Trash or Treasure? Creative Tips for Recycling Used Items

Global warming/climate change, decreasing landfill space and diminishing natural resources are all common topics on the news. Public awareness is high about issues like protecting the environment. We all want to do our bit to help the planet.

Some of you, like me, are not in a position to be able to add solar panels to our house or make other drastic changes, wonderful though they may be. A small thing that each of us can do, however, is to recycle. Every one can reuse old items. If everyone would reduce his or her waste (through recycling etc.) it would have a major impact.

So how do we get started? Here are a few tips for reusing old items.

1. This one seems obvious, but RECYCLE! It’s disgusting how many recyclable plastics, metals, and papers are thrown away and are now filling up landfill space. This is easier if your trash collection gives separate bins for regular and recyclable rubbish. Even if they don’t, most areas have a recycling centre. It may take a bit more planning, but it is worth making the effort.

2. Take items that are still in decent condition to charity shops. You might not need them anymore, but someone else might. Household items, clothing and shoes, and bric-a-brac are all welcome.

3. Many old food containers, like plastic ice cream tubs, make excellent Tupperware. It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than buying the real thing.

4. Old things you don’t need anymore could become your kid’s favourite toy. My daughter loves playing with our old cell phones. (Use your common sense and only give kids things that are safe for them to play with.) Turn over used sheets of paper and let them colour on the other side. Put old clothes in a dressing up box. The denim shirt you regret buying in the 80s might be perfect for them to dress up as a cowboy. Give them some old magazines, a glue stick, and some scissors and let them make collages or their own little books from the pictures they find.

5. Be creative. Use old containers as bird feeders or planters. Turn things upside down and make drums for your kids to beat on. Incorporate things into multimedia artwork. I’ve cut up worn out sheets to make changing mats for the baby table, and I’ve seen people quilt their old clothes.

These are just a few suggestions to get your started. If we would all just do a few of these, we would make a significant positive impact on our planet.

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