Summer of 2020.
For generations in Ireland and across Europe thrift was one of the main reasons for reuse. Reuse saved money, time, energy and space.
In the developing world, it’s still the case and leads to very high levels of reuse. In Ireland as in other developed countries rising wages and greater consumer purchasing power has increased demand for convenience products.
Sometimes needs drive reuse with socks and other cloth items now reshaped and reuses as face masks to protect against the spread of COVID 19 and with lots of coffee shops, closed people are reusing cups and mugs over and over again. (might catch on!).
Convenience products have helped us undervalue reuse in favour of disposal or recycling. Recycling is positive and has great benefits but uses resources including time, human capital and natural resources (e.g. fuel) to get the items to locations where they can be recycled effectively. Reuse is preferable!
If you can reuse an item yourself, it can help save money, save time, and the environment. Reuse helps reduced CO2 emissions and the mining of new raw materials. Reuse can be a matter of thinking a little differently and figuring out how old milk cartons, cans, bags, bicycles, tires, packing or wood maybe reuse to match your needs. Reuse will truly find a new life for items around your home or workplace.
We created some reuse tips for reuse month in October 2016. We have now updated the list and are reusing the tips during summer 2018 – Have a read and see what you can do!
- Create reusable lunch boxes or storage containers from large plastic ice cream tubs.
- After a picnic or BBQ, wash and save plastic knives, forks and spoons then store for your next outdoor event.
- Reuse large plastic milk container to water garden plants rather than a hose: pierce small holes in the top side of the container and fill with water for slow, steady and simple watering.
- Harvest seeds from fruit and vegetables and try to grow them!
- Use paper egg cartons or toilet paper tubes (both are biodegradable) to start growing seeds into plants. They can be dropped right into the soil once strong enough.
- Turn toilet rolls or paper towel tubes into playthings for children or nesting materials for your small pets.
- Create egg carton crafts or offer egg cartons for reuse by local egg producers.
- Store printed pictures and photos in poly pockets to reduce the ageing effects from humidity, damp and light.
- Use old wine corks to create a floating key ring; your keys won’t sinking while at the pool, beach or lake.
- Use a 2-litre plastic bottle to create a bird feeder.
- Used cold bacon fat in a tuna or cat food tin to feed you, feathered friends, just hang from a tree or post in the garden.
- Put old newspaper under a tablecloth to offer protection against spills.
- Clean your window on Monday with Sundays newspapers (instead of paper towel)
- Place an open jar or bowl of dried, used coffee grounds in your refrigerator or freezer to neutralize odours.
- Keep a jar of dried, used coffee grounds to use with washing up liquid. It acts as a scouring agent for baked-on food
- Placed used coffee grounds in a ring around garden plants to keep bugs and slugs away.
- Refresh your eyes fresh with chilled and dampened tea bags taken from the fridge.
- Cut old bike tire tubes tube into strips to make rubber bands in custom sizes.
- Cut or shred paper or thin card into eco-friendly packing material for presents or parcels.
- As kids outgrow colouring pencils, pens and art supplies try donating them to your local school.
- Empty bottles, sweet boxes and biscuit tins can be used as small screw holders, toolboxes, sewing kit or cake holders.
- Collect old soap ends into stocking leg and keep by an outdoor tap, ensuring you have hand wash for outside use.
- Cut up old t-shirts and use them to clean up messy spills around the house and in the garage.
- Used an old adult t-shirt as painting overalls for your kids – saves washing clothes.
- Old tights make great rags for cleaning, dusting and shining
- Old tights can be reused as sleeves for storing posters, wallpaper rolls, wrapping paper or anything else that needs to stay rolled up.
- Cut the legs of old jeans to make super cool shorts for summer.
- Use banana peels to shine your shoes. Rub the inside of the peel on shoes, then shine with a soft cloth.
- Turn bread heals into breadcrumbs once dried out. Just blitz.
- Use the peels of juiced lemons and limes to make zest and twists, which can be dried or frozen for later use.
- Use juiced citrus fruit halves sprinkled with salt to clean stainless steel and other metal fixtures.
- Add a piece of orange peel to brown sugar to ensure it stays soft.
- Don’t throw away half-used copy books, up-cycle into kid’s drawing books.
- Unravel woollen jumpers and knit something new for you!
- Reused material from 3 or 4 broken umbrellas to assemble a retro-style rain poncho.
- Jars can be cleaned and used to store homemade jams, preserves or even as a desk organizer for pens, paper clips or pencils.
- Save old toothbrushes to scrub hard to reach places, like grout, sinks or behind water taps.
- Collect broken china to re-tile outdoor tables, flower pots or paths.
- Hang old clothes drawers or washing machine drums on the wall to create shelves or used them as storage boxes.
- Food tins and plastic fruit containers can be reused for the planting and growing flower and herbs.
- Reuse water from washing and/or cooking vegetables at home to water plants internally and externally.
- Old or unused shaving or makeup bags can be reused as a sturdy pen, pencil and marker bags for children (allows kids to keep drawing stuff all in one place!).
Waste is Treasure!
We all know one person’s waste is another person’s treasure. Instead of discarding unwanted tools, clothes or electrical appliances, try reuse with friends or donating them can reduce waste and help others save money.
Local community groups, charity shops, schools, and nonprofit organizations may accept a variety of donated items, including used books, paint, working toys, and unneeded furniture. Please click here to learn more
About Recycle IT
Recycle IT, is an award-winning social enterprise offering electrical, electronic and metal recycling services through drop off and collection. Services are provided in partnership with WEEE Ireland and South Dublin County Council.
Recycle IT are supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development, Pobal and Dormant Accounts and authorised by the National Waste Collection Permit Office and the local authorities across in Leinster.