What things can you recycle at home?

bry84August 20, 2007

Many threads have covered this topic in some form or another, but it's also worthy of its own thread. Reducing waste is the most important thing, but when we do inevitably end up with some waste it's good to recycle it. I use our local recycling services a lot, but I prefer to recycle things at home where possible because then I get to use it again and save money.

In the reusing papers thread I mentioned that you can turn metal coffee cans in to BBQ lighting chimneys. We make compost from garden waste, and we do many other obvious things too like reusing plastic margarine tubs as lunch boxes and freezer containers, and glass jars to store things. Packaging materials like cardboard and plastic bubble wrap are saved and taken to a charity store where I work as they can be reused to pack mail ordered items. The actual money savings can't be easily counted, but surely when you have paid for the entire item including packaging it makes sense to use it all up where possible before throwing it away.

Are there any other things we can recycle at home?

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Water -- primarily graywater (what the washing machine pumps out, an open container for water in the shower) and rainwater (collected from the roof and either redistributed on the plants or collected).

Some scrap materials can be put in a fireplace (indoors or outdoors) for cooking/heating. You have to be careful with what you put in (pine, for example, is a no-no), but it can be a way to recycle newspaper, personal information you otherwise would shred, etc. I would not use such materials in a barbeque.

Of course, the easiest thing to do is to not have the materials to recycle in the first place. :-)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 7:01PM
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You can take waste paper and make handmade paper. Some types of waste paper you can use:
Computer Paper (unprinted)
Newspaper (If you want a grayish colored paper)
Egg Cartons
Old Cards (For heavier paper)
Paper Bags
Non-Waxed Boxes (Pre-soak in warm water)
Office Paper
Tissue Paper (For finer paper)
Typing Paper
Construction Paper

Use the handmade paper for all kinds of things, including envelopes, bookcovers, cards, craft projects, as well as making hand-formed paper bowls/vases.

Bubble wrap can be placed on windows for insulation during the winter. Great for apartment dwellers or renters to help cut heating costs. Cut bubble wrap to fit. Wet the windows with a spritz bottle of water, and apply the bubble wrap to the window panes while still wet.


We have a series of rain barrels (over 1,000 gallon capacity) that we use to capture rain water and use it for the garden and landscape watering.

Newspapers can be rolled into logs and burned like firewood.


Make your own firestarters. Place sawdust or dryer lint in the cups of cardboard egg cartons. Melt wax (old candle stubs) and cover the sawdust or drier lint. Break the egg carton into individual cups. A safe way to melt wax (it's flamable when it gets too hot) is to place the wax in a Pyrex measuring cup and place the cup on an electric cup warmer or an electric candle warmer. It warms it enough to slowly melt, but it never gets so hot it will burn you. The wax pours easily with the spouted measuring cup.


Cut both ends out of cans and place them around plants in the garden to keep cutworms away.


Make a scoop out of plastic bottles (all different sizes).


We keep sand (free from any beach) on hand to sprinkle on the drive way and sidewalks, instead of expensive Ice Melt (which can damage plants and concrete). When the ice has melted, I sweep the sand back up and toss it back into the plastic storage container it's kept in.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 9:06PM
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I reuse:
Laundry water to water my fruit trees
Pringle cantainers to dispose my cooking grease
Gift bags/Gift boxes
Crayons to make fire starters for camping
Laundry dryer sheets for dusting
Old socks to cover my kids wrists while they are outside sleding
TP rolls and egg cartons for kids crafts
Im sure i reuse much more. I have a hard time trowing anything out if i feel i could use it for something.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 1:22PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Older throw rugs get put outside on the porch or carport for the furbabies. I also use them in their houses sometimes too.

Old blankets, or covers are put in the vehicles for when I occasionally haul something particularly wet or dirty...like a big wet furbaby, or potted plants.

Plastic shower curtain is saved for sometime when I need a small lightweight tarp.

Large plastic jars with screw lids...perfect for screws , nails, or things I don't want the mice to chew up in the shed.

I have a hard time trowing anything out if i feel i could use it for something.
I've been called a packrat more than once, but feel secure in knowing that I have almost anything needed to fix about anything without having to travel into town and buy something.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 12:49AM
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I use clothes washing water to water my plants.
I have a compost pile of sorts. Anything organic (egg shells, fruit and veg peels, used coffee grounds, etc) go in a coffe can under the sink. It has a plastic lid. when full, I dump it in a corner outdoors. Add grass clippings from our bagging mower and fall leaves. Wait two years,mix it in garden soil in the spring. My town collects newspaper, corrugated cardboard, steel and aluminum cans and #1 and #2 plastics and clear glass. I subscribe to lots of magazines. I save them and leave them at the laubdromat or doctors waiting rooms. I bring clothing and useable furnishings over to Salvation Army.I try to do my part.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 7:38PM
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Recycle dryer sheets - just save and either spritz with a solution of seven parts water to two parts liquid fabric softener, or you can keep them handy in a wipes box with a cup or so of it in the bottom - just squeeze out excess and toss.

Take a plastic milk jug, cut a hole big enough for your hand on the side by the handle. Stuff plastic grocery bags in this, and you can pull back out to use as totes or trash can liners. When one gets full, I make a new one. After it has a few bags, take the first to whatever local store has a recycle bags bin and toss in. They are ground up to make blow in insulation for houses.

If you like windchimes and have old, miss-matched flatware and a drill, you can use the flatware as the "chimes", or I have also seen a Redneck windchime - a board reading "Redneck Windchime" with cans from sodas wired to it via holes drilled below the words.

Take the pull tabs from canned drinks and glue or nail to items you want to hang on the walls - they make great replacement hangers for pictures.

Reuse plastic containers from juice - just buy frozen juice concentrate, juice your own fruit, or buy drink mix, and mix in the containers according to package instructions. A funnel can be really helpful for this.

Other good places to ask if they need your magazines are places like nursing homes, hospitals, and schools (kids cut stuff out and paste for projects)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 1:15AM
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