by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Before we even as much as consider recycling an item we should look to see if we can reuse it

SnappleBottleTapReusing uses far less energy – more often than not zero energy – than does recycling and it can save money too, our own money! Many items can be reused – from carrier bags and clothes, through to books and furniture.

Some tips for reusing household items (this list is by no means complete:

  • try to repair things before throwing them away;

  • save wrapping paper and gift boxes to use again;

  • take old magazines to your local doctors' or dentists’ surgery;

  • use yoghurt pots and egg cartons to plant seedlings and plastic bottles cut in half for planters or bird feeders; you can also use plastic bottles, with just the bottom cut off, as plant propagators, e.g. cloches;

  • reuse envelopes by putting labels over old addresses;

  • use the back of larger envelopes that cannot be reused easily in the above way, such as those window envelopes, as note pages;

  • if paper has only been written or printed on one side, why not use the other side for messages, notes and lists?

  • jars and bottles can be reused to store homemade jams and pickles. Old jars can also be used for storing items such as nails, sugar and pasta, or you can decorate them to use as candle holders or pen pots;

  • an empty Snapple® or other similar glass bottle makes a great reusable water bottle. No need to buy one;

  • empty and cleaned up tin cans also can be reused in a number of ways and one great reuse is to use them as pencil bins; but they can also serve as scoops for potting soil, chicken feed, etc.;

  • reuse old containers and buy refills for sturdy packs such as washing powders, liquids, salt and so on, and

  • buy cotton cloths for the kitchen clean-up instead of disposable kitchen roll. But then again, why buy, necessarily. How about reusing the old cotton T-shirt that no longer can be worn because it is too small into kitchen cloths?

  • Old T-shirts and other cotton garments no longer suitable for wear, including socks, can become dusting cloths (dusters);

There was a time when no one had to be told about reuse, it was just something you did. You did not even think about it. Everyone did and it was a way to save money at home and in the office.

Much of this reuse, that is true, was born and borne out of necessity of having to make ends meet and save money, and this was and is especially true for those that were at the bottom of the scale. But it is something we should all do as it not only saves us money but may be good – nay is good – for the Planet.

Today, however, we seem to have been so brainwashed that we can only think of the recycling bin and have absolutely no idea, at least not the majority, of how to see a reuse potential in things. We could learn a lot from children; they instinctively, it seems, find a reuse for something.

I have had the great fortune, at least see it as that, and maybe I could even call it a privilege, to have grown up with reuse even though it was very much out of necessity and thus value everything and try to find a reuse for everything that otherwise might end up in the trash – even if it is the recycling bin.

The reuse mindset, and that's what it is, has only one serious drawback and that is that you need a rather large barn for all those things you end up keeping – or want to keep – because they may come in handy some day.

But, even though many people reckon that those things don't come handy, the truth is that they do immediately after you have thrown them away because you have not needed them for the last five years or such.

Another reuse is to pick up useful things that others have either thrown away or and especially those things that people have lost and fail to return for. Oh yes, and the latter does include the occasional currency, and even a penny can come in handy.

© 2014