With so many products claiming to be recyclable, you may be wondering why there is so much hype about reusing items. Aside from the obvious positive environmental impact that is associated with reusing items, there are also other benefits that will be discussed later, which will show how reusing otherwise disposable items is worth the effort.
The environmentally conscious decision to reuse an item rather than send it to the dump comes with other benefits such as:
- Extending the life of an item
- Reduces trash in the landfills
- Saving money
Each of these items can be expanded upon to show more advantages of reusing items.
If you are among the many individuals who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint to save our precious Earth for future generations, continue reading this article to learn more reasons you should reuse as many items as possible.
Why You Should Reuse as Many Items as Possible
If you were able to look at the amount of trash that is produced around the world, you would be shocked and begin to wonder where all of the trash goes. How can one little planet contain so much unnecessary waste?
Globally we produce around two billion tons of waste. Out of that number, Americans are responsible for over 250 million tons of waste. That works out to be a little over four pounds of trash created daily per person.
If these statistics are not enough to convince you that reusing items is a necessary process that should be incorporated into every household around the globe, then continue reading for information that may change your point of view on this matter.
The next section will discuss other factors that show why it is important to reuse and repurpose items before sending them to the landfill.
How Reusing Items Helps the World We Live In
As previously mentioned, several factors contribute to why we should reuse as many items as possible.
The following list will expand upon those factors to give you a better understanding of how reusing items can impact the world.
Hopefully, this will inspire you to put more thought into what you purchase, how you use the items, and how you reuse or dispose of said items.
Environmental Impact of Reusing Items
The best way to help the environment is to reduce your carbon footprint. To do this, begin by reusing or repurposing as many items as possible.
The more you can reuse, the less you will be contributing to the landfill. The energy used to create many of the disposable products that we have come to rely upon can be greatly reduced if we start reusing items. Perhaps we should even consider that we completely stop purchasing these wasteful products in the first place.
There are many other alternative and sustainable products on the market today. If people slow down and stop relying so heavily on what is convenient and comfortable, the world will be much better off and last longer for future generations.
Extending the Life of an Item
Another reason to reuse items is that you can extend the life of that item and save it from taking up unnecessary space in the landfill.
Why keep buying something new if you can reuse or repurpose things that you already have purchased? For example, if you have purchased a quart-sized bottle of cooking oil, rather than throw that away, get a jumbo refill from your nearest large box store, fill and keep the smaller bottle in your pantry. Once the jumbo jar is empty, washed, and dried, it will work well for holding cereal, rice, or even cat or dog food.
Reduces Trash in the Landfills
Another obvious reason to reuse or repurpose items is to reduce the amount of trash piling up in landfills and taking up precious land that can be used for something more purposeful, such as a nature reserve or building homes or businesses to strengthen a community.
Repurposing Items Can Be Fun
This coincides with extending the life of an item. Repurposing items is a great way to make something last longer. Additionally, if you are a creative person, many items can be incorporated into arts and crafts.
Not only will you be helping the environment and saving some money, but you can also have fun creating a one-of-a-kind piece for people to enjoy.
Saving Money While Helping the Environment
With the economy the way it is, sometimes the words “save money” are all a person needs to hear to become open to the idea of reusing and repurposing items. Saving money and helping the environment puts you in a win-win situation.
Going back to our cooking oil example, typically, buying in bulk results in per-ounce cost savings. Additionally, when you can buy in bulk in biodegradable containers, such as cardboard, you are able to avoid adding to the landfill.
The next section will discuss disposable items and how we can reduce the amount of waste in our landfills.
Avoid Purchasing Single-Use Items When Possible
This section will discuss items that are commonly considered to be disposable and take up a large portion of our landfills.
If you must purchase them, try to find ways to reuse or repurpose them before sending them to the dump.
Many of the items on this list have sustainable alternatives that work just as well and will reduce the amount of waste in our landfills.
Baby Wipes and Cleaning Wipes
Using pre-moistened wipes for wiping your little one’s bum or disinfecting the kitchen and bathroom surfaces is so easy, and all you have to do is throw them in the trash when you are finished. But what happens once they are in the trash?
To reduce the number of disposable wipes you are consuming, try collecting rags from old clothing or towels around the house as an alternative. You can wash them when you are finished with your task, and they will last for years. Perhaps save the disposable wipes for when you are away from home.
We are all human, and no one can be perfect all of the time, but if we all try to reduce the amount of waste we produce even by a small percentage, it will make a big difference globally.
Since the invention of the single-cup coffee maker, disposable coffee pods have begun to take up a lot of space in the landfill. Although this invention has been convenient, it is not really necessary as we have been drinking coffee for centuries without this convenience.
If you are absolutely dead-set on using a single cup coffee maker, invest in a reusable pod. Reusable pods are great because you can wash them and reuse them for months or possibly years if you take care of them.
By using reusable pods, you can enjoy your favorite coffee with the peace of mind that you are not creating additional waste.
Lord knows having a child in diapers creates an enormous amount of waste. This is one item that you clearly do not want to reuse or repurpose. A better alternative is to use cloth diapers, at least when you are at home.
Many people in this day and age cringe at the thought of using a cloth diaper. However, there are companies that make super cute and extremely functional cloth diapers that are easy to keep clean and can be reused for years if taken care of properly.
There are many websites online where moms can give tips and tricks to using cloth diapers in today’s world.
Disposable Coffee Cups
Whether you are getting coffee on the run, having a get-together, or church function, disposable coffee cups and other plastic drink cups can add up.
Think about how many coffee shops you see as you are driving. If you live in the city, you know that there is a Dunkin Donuts™ or Starbucks™ on every street corner and sometimes right across from each other.
That is a lot of coffee being consumed on a daily basis and a lot of waste being produced as a result of our addiction.
A great solution is to start bringing a reusable mug with you rather than add to the waste. Oftentimes coffee shops will give you a discount for using your own container.
Disposable Plates and Cutlery
Whether paper or plastic, disposable plates can also take up a lot of space in the dump. If you are worried about breaking the fine china or have a lot of gatherings, don’t automatically go the disposable route.
A great way to be sure your guests all have a plate when they come is to visit local second-hand stores. Many times they will have an overabundance of mismatched plates, dishes, and silverware that can be purchased for almost nothing.
It doesn’t matter if they all match. You will have a great supply of the flatware (for a little amount of money) that you need the next time you have a large gathering.
They may not be as convenient as throwing a disposable plate in the trash and forgetting about it, but the landfill will thank you when you reduce the amount of waste you are contributing.
Also, consider keeping an extra set of utensils in your purse, vehicle, or office to avoid using plastic cutlery when you are away from home.
Think before throwing out your glass jars. Many foods, such as spaghetti sauce or pickles, come in a glass jar. These jars can be used to store miscellaneous items, leftover food, or even plant a small indoor plant. The possibilities are endless. If you get creative, there are many ways to reuse glass jars.
Paper Napkins and Paper Towels
Avoid using paper napkins and towels whenever possible. Super absorbent shammy towels are a great alternative to using paper napkins and towels as they can easily be washed many times and dry quickly.
Plastic Bottles from Body Wash, Soaps, Laundry Detergents
So many of the things we use every day come in heavy-duty plastic bottles or containers. Rather than automatically throwing them in the trash, get creative and try to find other uses for these containers. Many of these containers can be washed out and cut into planters.
They can be a great way to start your seeds before transferring them to a larger container. If you want to try your hand at making your own soaps and household cleaners, these containers can be reused to hold your own concoctions, which will reduce the amount of plastic in the landfill.
Plastic Food Containers
Since much of our food comes in resealable plastic containers, why purchase new ones? Save the containers that your food comes in, so you don’t have to waste money buying food storage containers.
They are great for taking your lunch to work or school, and in the event you do forget to bring it home, you haven’t wasted money on a fancy container.
Plastic Sandwich Bags
Plastic sandwich bags are super convenient, but they are also highly wasteful. If you use plastic sandwich bags with or without zippers, try to reuse them whenever possible. Plastic sandwich bags can be washed, dried and, reused multiple times before throwing them out.
It may take a little more effort, but in the long run, you are doing a good thing for the environment, plus saving some money along the way.
Plastic Shopping Bags
Plastic shopping bags are one of the worst offenders when it comes to pollution and waste. Don’t throw out those bags! They can be reused multiple times until they rip.
Try using them as small trash can liners throughout your home or to pack your lunch or carry extra things when your hands are full.
They also make great boot liners when it is raining or snowy and will keep your socks dry and feet warm.
Plastic Water Bottles
This is another huge source of waste around the world. Stop buying bottled water. Invest in a filter pitcher or one that attaches directly to your tap. Keep reusable drinking containers on hand so you can always have a nice cold reusable bottle of water.
Ditch the plastic wrap and try other materials that can be reused, such as tin foil, stretchy silicone lids, or resealable containers. Plastic wrap can be:
- Difficult to reuse
- Takes up a lot of space in the landfill
- Can be a choking hazard to wildlife
Before throwing out the can that your beans or other preserved foods come in, try using them to collect the grease drippings while you are cooking so that grease doesn’t get poured down the drain. Tin cans can also make great plant starters by simply drilling a few small holes in the bottom for drainage.
Tissues cannot be reused, but a handkerchief can. If you want to reduce the amount of waste you contribute, try using handkerchiefs rather than disposable tissues when your allergies are kicking in. Handkerchiefs can be washed over and over and come in lots of cute designs.
It may not be something that you think of, but plastic straws can create a lot of waste and also pose a choking threat to many wild animals. Consider purchasing stainless steel or glass straws that can be washed and reused over and over.
Teach Your Children to Reuse While They are Young
If you have small children, you may be wondering how you can teach them to think proactively about the items they use on a daily basis. Teaching children the importance of reusing and repurposing when they are very young will create a habit that they will carry throughout their lives.
To instill good habits in your child, get them involved in the process of reusing items. Challenge them to find new uses for items that would have historically been tossed in the bin. The more you do this, the better at it they will become, as well as more conscious of what they throw away.
Continue reading for tips on how to get your kids excited about reusing and repurposing items to help our environment and save money.
Tips for Getting Your Kids Excited About Sustainable Living
Let’s face it, being a parent is exhausting, and sometimes we just want what is quick and convenient without having to put a lot of thought or effort into something.
Unfortunately, if we continue with this thinking, we will be passing more bad habits on to our children and doing more damage to our environment. Sometimes the convenient way is not always best.
The following list gives suggestions as to how you can teach your children to think about the earth and the consequences of throwing items away without reusing them.
- Challenge your children to find new uses for items that they are going to throw away
- Encourage your children to be creative by making their own decorations, gifts, and other crafts from items that were going to be thrown away.
- Show them videos about reusing and repurposing items
- Show them videos on how excessive landfill waste impacts our environment and wildlife
- Teach your children that many items can be repaired when broken rather than simply tossing them out.
- Teach your children the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
- Teach your children to use both sides of the paper when drawing rather than making a small doodle and getting a new sheet of paper
Teaching your children to live a less wasteful life will be rewarding and can be a lot of fun for the whole family to be creative and save money.
Reusing Items is the Best Way to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint
As you can see from this article, there are more reasons to reuse and repurpose items than not. It only makes sense that if we want our world to remain beautiful and bountiful for many generations to come, we must change our thinking and be more conscious of what happens with the items we throw in the landfill and how they will impact our lives in the long run.