You’re freaking awesome. You are a dedicated friend of the Earth, self-appointed conservationist and a total advocate for natural living. You recycle (obviously!), and it was your idea to start the neighborhood swap shop.
But it’s possible that you forgot to recycle some things. Well, not forgot, exactly. More like, didn’t think you could, or didn’t think of it at all. That’s okay, nobody’s perfect. Here’s a list of things you might not have thought to recycle, as well as some ideas for repurposing before you recycle!
These little peanuts are both a nuisance for the Earth and a blessing for people who like to online shop. People give away free bags full of Styrofoam peanuts on Craigslist because no one’s quite sure what to do with them.
To Recycle: Enter the Plastic Loose Fill Council (yes, this is a real thing). Go online and enter your state and zip code, and you’ll get a list of shipping services stores near you that will gladly accept your Styrofoam peanuts and make sure they are reused or recycled appropriately.
To Repurpose: Does your youngster have any home economics projects coming up? Her schoolteacher may appreciate a donation of Styrofoam peanuts for the kids to stuff handmade beanbag chairs, teddy bears or other soft craft projects.
If you’re a parent, chances are there’s a shoebox somewhere in your house filled with broken crayons that “certain people” refuse to use. When every gift occasion includes a fresh new box of Crayolas, how can you expect Timothy to use the broken crayons first?
To Recycle: Local charities might be interested in taking your broken crayons off your hands. Look for after-school programs, half-way houses and women’s shelters, each of which is bound to have access to needy children who would love to use those crayons, broken or not. If you are still at a loss, mail them in to Crazy Crayons, an organization that will recycle the crayons for you.
To Repurpose: Melt the crayon wax down and make homemade votive-style candles, like these DIY color block crayon candles.
Buttons From Discarded Clothing
Some clothes end up so worn, stained and tattered that they aren’t even suitable for donating. In that case, you might be able to turn them into rags. But what about the buttons? Don’t just throw those into the trash. Plastic and metal buttons can be recycled or repurposed.
To Recycle: Just cut them off the garment with scissors and toss plastic and metal buttons, snaps, zippers and other clothing hardware right into your regular plastic and metal recycling bin. Recycling companies can use these items just as they do empty plastic and metal bottles and cans.
To Repurpose: Used buttons can be sewn onto kitchen towels for added functionality. Sew a button on a corner of the cloth. Wrap a loop of twine or pretty ribbon around the button. Now you have a way to hang the towel off a drawer knob or kitchen hook without having to install a grommet. More ideas to repurpose buttons can be found here.
Paper Towel and Toilet Paper Tubes
People often forget to recycle paper towel and toilet paper cardboard tubes. But these are ideal for recycling, and it’s worth it to make the trip from the bathroom to the recycling bin to deposit these cardboard rolls.
To Recycle: Place a second wastebasket in the bathroom dedicated to bathroom tissue roll tubes. You can also throw used facial tissues, hair dye boxes and toothpaste boxes in there, to be included with the household’s regular recycling.
To Reuse: Cardboard tubes from paper towels and bathroom tissue are ideal for many uses:
- Inside cardboard tubes with the ends folded in, safely pack away sharp knives and scissors for moving
- Store horizontally in a box and keep electrical cords organized and handy.
- Place over wrapping paper rolls to keep the paper from unrolling.
- Decorate with your child and make a pretend pirate’s telescope.
Remember, you’re doing a great job already. Now, just think twice before you and your family throws anything away. Is there one more possible use for it? Could another organization make use of it or dispose of it in a more environmentally friendly way? Almost everything can be recycled or repurposed. We all just have to figure out how to do it.