Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose
Make Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose Work for You
Isn’t it un-American to reject bigger is better and shop ’til you drop?
There’s no denying the instant gratification that comes from impulsive purchases, buying something special or cashing in on a “buy one get one free” bargain. But that 20th century mindset has paradoxically produced stressed out Americans living in clutter, overwhelmed by what to do with so much stuff we don’t use.
- A Cluttered Life: Middle Class Abundance
Since pictures are worth 1,000 words, check out one or more videos in a series based on research out of U.C.L.A. that looked at consumption habits of 32 dual-earner households with two or more children from a range of ethnic groups, neighborhoods, incomes and occupations.
- Or, read the book of the same name, by Anthony P. Graesch, Jeanne E. Arnold, Enzo Ragazzini and Elinor Ochs, with photographs and a description of the project.
De-stress with less
Instead of buying new stuff you don’t need, save your money using the three R’s:
- Reuse: use again or more than once. Examples include grocery tote bags, portable coffee mugs and BPA-free water bottles.
- Recycle: convert (waste) into reusable material. Sorting and separately disposing of paper, plastic and glass keeps useful post-consumer waste out of landfills and provides material for new products.
- Repurpose: adapt for use in a different purpose. Examples include transforming old jeans into a carry bag or funky placemats; file cabinets into garage storage; or mason jars into vases, sewing kits and candle holders.
Go on-line for inspirational repurposing ideas
- 100 Ways to Repurpose and Reuse Broken Household Items
- 50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things
- DIY Design and Upcycling
- Pinterest Upcycle and Recycle Ideas
Alternative for items you can’t recycle, reuse or repurpose at home
- Put on music or a book on tape and destress by separating and bagging items you no longer want.
- Join with neighbors to hold a yard sale; consign, sell on-line or through a local penny saver.
- Look for flea markets and swap-meets where you can sell or swap your wares.
- Donate to your local food pantry unopened canned food, peanut butter, cereal and pasta you don’t plan to eat.
- Donate to the Salvation Army or Goodwill clothing, sheets and towels you no longer use.
- Donate to your local library books you no longer need or set them aside for a book drive.
- Donate knick-knacks, costume jewelry and other collectibles you no longer need to thrift stores that support the humane society, local hospital or the Junior League.
- To Schedule home pick-up:
- Pickup Please - They accept a wide range of items for the benefit of veterans
- Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore - They accept small and large donations of furniture, appliances, housewares and building materials in good condition to benefit people in your community.
- Get a receipt for donations you make to these and other not-for-profit organizations to submit with your annual tax return.
If you don’t need it, don’t buy it!
On average, Americans throw away more than 4 pounds of trash every day; 20 pounds a month of that is food waste. The food waste alone amounts to $1,365 - $2,275 a year of lost money for a 4 person family. Once you declutter your home, consider a new approach to shopping; if you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
- Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill
- Trash by the numbers: Startling statistics about US garbage
- Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures
- Reduce waste by making purchases of everything from take-out meals to household goods without the packaging that creates unnecessary waste.
- Join the movement to preserve our trees, water and the climate by wasting less.
- Opt for products with minimal or no packaging. Depending upon what you intend to purchase, bring your own container to transport it. For example, Americans send an estimated 58 billion disposable cups to landfills each year. Starting tomorrow bring your own coffee mug when you buy take-out coffee.
- Say No to Disposable Coffee Cups
- EPA Reducing and Reusing Basics
- Don’t miss this video - The wave beyond decluttering involves the world of collaborative consumption which takes the long view of how we use our good and services. Airbnb and bike sharing are two examples.
Learn more by perusing the library of research and global directory of services
The League of Women Voters has focused successfully for almost 100 years to engage citizens at the national, state and local levels to make democracy work. Every voice counts. If you have an idea for improving how your community addresses the environment, contact the League of Women Voters and ask for an introduction to a League member with whom to discuss your idea.
Does your community have an environmental committee? These committees can tackle local goals. Examples include a plastic bag ban, minimizing food waste or other post-consumer waste, or instituting a local service that accepts donations of food or goods to benefit people in the community.
- Contact your mayor or town supervisor’s office directly to find out whether an environmental committee exists. If not, consider establishing a committee with other citizens and transform your local environment in collaboration with local government.
- Or, if you have proposed public policy that would apply across the state, set up a meeting with your state senator or state assembly member.
- Find Your Elected Representatives Here
Don’t miss this song. In the words of singer/songwriter Nick Kello, “The Earth gives us everything we’ll ever need. If we take care of it, we will succeed.” Listen to the lovely Earth Song by Nick Kello and behold the images of our beautiful planet.
Congratulations for getting to this point of Be Earthwise
Streamlining personal possessions can inspire change that lasts. Add up how much money you saved through buying less, using the three R’s and resales/donations. Consider using a small portion of what you saved to plant a tree; pay it forward. Take time to enjoy nature; or just sit quietly and smell the flowers.
What issues do you want to learn more about? What citizen solutions have you found to be most successful? Write to us at: BeEarthwise2017@gmail.com
Have you signed the Be Earthwise pledge? If not, Take the Be Earthwise Pledge.
Thank you for being Earthwise. Every day. Please share this with your family and friends, and the people in your network. Ask them to do the same. Together, we can make democracy work.