Don’t Trash It, Repurpose It
With a little persistance and exploration, it is easy to develop an eye for repurposing materials. So much of what we consume is discarded before its usefullness is expired, and even items that have already served their initial purpose may have some additional value around the home. By developing a mindset against waste, you will find creative and exciting uses for things that many people simply throw away. While you will need to develop some method of organizing the items you rescue from the trash, once you start saving, you'll often find that when you need something, you already have it.
Saving Plastic Infant and Child Products
Plastic baby wipe containers are great for storing small household items such as buttons, paper clips, and crayons. After all of the wipes are used, simply wash the empty container with some mild soap and water and dry it with a clean towel. These small plastic bins can be stacked together in order to conserve storage space.
Plastic bottles, sippy cups, and flip-top drinking cups can be reused without their lids. These items can be kept on hand for children who are old enough to drink from open-top cups but need the extra safety of a non-breakable cup. Plastic bottles and cups are also handy to use when watering houseplants or scooping dry pet food.
Once infants outgrow their plastic bathtubs, parents can convert these products to "bins" for storing bath toys or other small toys, or you could even use it as a decoration in your garden. Could it be a birdbath? Or how about a flower pot?
Ideas For Reusing Glass Items
Small glass baby food jars can be used to store condiments, purees, or craft supplies such as beads or sequins. They also are great in the garage for storing screws and other small maintenance items. Adults can peel the original labels from the jars, wash and clean the glass, and create new labels of their own. The baby food lids can be washed and reused as well.
Large glass food jars, such as those used for older baby and toddler meals, are ideal for keeping homemade jams, salsa, or sauces fresh in the refrigerator. Once cleaned and re-labeled, these large jars can also be filled with loose tea leaves or spices. Crafty adults can reuse glass jars when making homemade candles or decorative projects with colored sand. Need a piggy bank? Fill a pickle jar with your loose change, and you'll feel rich as you watch it fill up.
Green Ideas For Paper and Cardboard Products
Sometimes children outgrow disposable diapers before the package is empty, but parents need not throw away the extra diapers. When combined with a bit of household cleaner, the inside portion of a diaper can be used to wipe dusty counter tops, table surfaces, and mirrors. If a large number of disposable diapers or pull-ups are left over, creatively gift them to an expectant or new mother by making a "diaper cake."
Many children's toys are packaged in cardboard boxes, which can be used for storing school papers, art supplies, books, or office supplies. Adults can create new labels for these boxes and store them in an organized and accessible manner. Alternatively, cardboard boxes can be kept to hold the toys that were originally packaged inside–this idea is especially beneficial for toys that contain multiple small pieces. They are also handy when shipping gifts or when it's time to move.
Does All That Recycling Even Matter?
When making the decision to reuse products for children, parents make a positive contribution to the environment by not disposing of plastics, glass jars and containers, and paper products. These small conservation practices add up and can make a substantial impact on your home's waste reduction. If you take the opportunity to teach your children why your recycle, you can instill in them a sense of responsibility for the environment and for their own waste and consumption. Is it worth it? You bet.
- Image: Boxes by Loftcwyouth/Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0
- Image: Baby Bottles by Jjackoti/Wikimedia Commons under GNU Free Documentation License.