5 Mar 2008

Where do you get all this stuff?

People that make their goods from re-cycled materials probably get asked this a lot. The sources of recyclable materials are as varied as the materials themselves.

Today I'm going to talk about the waste products that leave our houses. Does all of it need to go in the bin that gets emptied and taken to be land fill? In the UK as in many countries rubbish is a huge problem. We are running out of space to put it. What can we each do about it? Firstly we need to look at everything we are about to put in the rubbish bin and think hard "is there any other use I can put to this item?" The answer in most cases will be yes, but we have got so used to just putting everything inside that black bin bag that gets picked up and taken away each week or fortnight that we have forgotten to ask this question before discarding things.

Vegetable peelings can all be composted and reused to grow plants in. Compost is great for digging into the garden or for putting in pots to grow things. If you don't have a garden of your own do a bit of research and find the nearest local community garden or local allotments where a whole hoard of gardeners will probably be happy to help you get rid of those peelings. You can compost natural fibre clothing and paper too.

Glass jars and bottles can all be reused. Instant re-purposing of jam jars is to get a bit of glass paint, draw pretty pictures on the jar, put a tea light candle in the bottom, light it and hey presto you have a pretty candle holder that protects the candle flame from drafts that might otherwise put them out. Great for using outside on a summers evening. Alex's green Blog has a list of 20 things to do with jam jars if you need more ideas.

Wine and beer bottles come in very handy for people that home brew. Ask around and see if you can donate a few, you never know it might get you a free sample to sip when the wine has matured.

Any glass you don't find a use for yourself can be sent off to be melted back down and made into new glass jars and bottles. "Recycling two bottles saves enough energy to boil water for five cups of tea" says Waste online.

Paper and card can all be re-cycled or re-used. Re-using is probably best, but there will come a point when you have used and reused each bit until it is usable no more. That's when you need to send it to the recycling plant to be pulped down and turned into new products or pulp it yourself an make your own paper.

Lots of plastics are reusable, such as plastic carrier bags can be be cut into strips, tied together and knitted with to make bags and mats. They can also be fused and together to make a very strong plastic fabric that can be stitched together into, pretty much anything you like. There are millions of carrier bags being used everyday and so many ending up in landfill.

Plastic food trays can be reused for many things. They make great trays to stand plant pots on your window ledges. They can be pierced in the base and used with the compost you made earlier to grow seeds in. Once the seedlings have sprouted you can pot them on into yoghurt pots or cut down water/soft drinks bottles. Most plastics will never degraded when put in landfill so reuse as many as you can and those you can't, recycle them as much as possible or better yet try not to buy as many goods wrapper/contained in plastic.

Tin cans and soft drinks cans are all recyclable. I have seen wonderful suitcases and sculptures made from drinks cans like this elephant from greener style.Any can's that you cannot reuse yourself can be recycled.

So next time you are walking to the bin with something to put in it, stop and think if it can be reused by you, or if it can be sent to be recycled. The less waste that we send to landfill the better.


  1. I posted this quote on my blog the other day:
    "We are not to throw away those things which can benefit our neighbor. Goods are called good because they can be used for good: they are instruments for good, in the hands of those who use them properly."
    - Clement of Alexandria (150-220 A.D.)
    and I wonder....if old Clement had it figured out way back then...why is it so hard for people to implement now?

  2. I never even thought of making my own paper for my prints - what an awesome idea. this is definately something I have to try.

  3. Great quote High Desert Diva!

    Yay Minkee! I look forward to seeing your prints on your own home made paper. Stop by and let us know when you have done it and I'll feature it on the blog.

  4. What a great post! I looooove the idea of making material out of plastic bags- I'll definitely be trying that!


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