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  • on May 24, 2010 -
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This second followup to Thoughts on Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling focuses on re-use. We’ve found there’s a lot of options here, and all it takes is a little thought before throwing something in the trash or recycle bin. Here’s some examples:

  • After getting take-out food, delivery, or taking home half our meal in a “doggie bag”, we often hang on to the “box” from the restaurant. Many are surprisingly high quality, and we use them to send food home with family after big meals (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) or to hold any leftovers from our meals at home.
  • When buying groceries, we select plastic bags (read: Paper or Plastic?). The ones that meet our quality assurance standard after use get taken with us on dog walks, to clean up after our dogs. The ones that don’t pass QA get taken back to the supermarket for recycling.

  • Kathie has a Tassimo single-cup coffee machine. These are convenient but can be pretty environmentally unfriendly. She takes the extra effort to take apart each T-Disc after use. The foil top goes in the trash, the plastic container gets recycled, and the coffee goes into our fridge to absorb odors (no need to buy baking soda!). After a while in the fridge the coffee goes into the garden as fertilizer.
  • Any single-sided printouts or papers go into my “scrap paper” stack which I use continuously for brainstorming and outlining when I’m developing software. Kathie also uses them to print out needlework (stitching and knitting) patterns until she’s finished. Then it goes into the recycle bin.
  • We rarely use paper plates, plastic forks and knives and cups. Use the real thing, wash it, and use it again. We have a great set of unbreakable cups we can use when kids are around.
  • When we buy things from Amazon (or wherever), we hang on to many of the delivery boxes, the styrofoam peanuts, bags of air, and other packing materials. We sometimes sell things on Ebay and are able to give these disposables a second life.
  • Speaking of Ebay, selling unwanted things is the ultimate in re-use, and makes us money! Mostly we sell Xbox 360 video games we’ve completed, and electronics like iPods when we upgrade to newer models.

We thought of a bunch of other things we re-use, but aren’t looking to make an exhaustive list—just some ideas to get the brain thinking. As before, feel free to click through to the article and leave a comment at the bottom with other ideas. Next up: recycling…


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