Reduce, reuse, repeat. What do you do?
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Reduce, reuse, repeat. What do you do?

This is a discussion on Reduce, reuse, repeat. What do you do? within the Recycling, Composting, Reducing, Reuse, Environment forums, part of the Off-Grid Lifestyle category; We always hear 'reduce, reuse, recycle'. Truth is, recycling isn't always that great. This is especially true of plastic, the overwhelming majority of which is ...

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Thread: Reduce, reuse, repeat. What do you do?

  1. #1
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    Reduce, reuse, repeat. What do you do?

    We always hear 'reduce, reuse, recycle'.
    Truth is, recycling isn't always that great. This is especially true of plastic, the overwhelming majority of which is NOT recycled in the US but instead shipped to China and India where environmental regulations are far less strict and recycling can thus be done more cheaply.
    There's already a thread going about the concept, but I'd love to get a massive list of specific ideas.
    I generate nearly no trash and relatively little recycling. Here's much of what I do:

    Tools and supplies:
    - Never throw out small hardware like nuts, bolts, nails, screws, washers, etc. Mayonnaise jars and coffee cans make excellent containers for them. I have three generations' worth - ie probably ~20lbs - of packratted small hardware, and I don't remember the last time I went to the store looking for screws.
    -Worn-out screwdrivers, even Phillips-heads, can be resharpened with a file, followed by 220 sandpaper and 0000 steel wool if you like. If you use power tools, be careful not to heat the metal too much.
    -I don't think I have ever thrown out a padded envelope or bubble wrap. If you buy and sell stuff on ebay, reuse the packing materials from the former to do the latter.
    -Ever ended up with excess flooring? Use extra laminate or cork to make things like trivets and coasters - flip them upside-down for use with hot stuff, and keep the good side up for appearances. Use leftover carpet to make work mats for getting under your car or doing stuff like staining or spraypaint.
    -The cheapskate always pays twice. Buy quality tools the first time - they may cost three times as much, but they'll easily last ten times as long.

    Food:
    -Small sour cream containers and the like can be kept in the front of your fridge, washed, and refilled from bulk containers kept in the very back where the air doesn't warm up as much from the door opening. The bulk containers will often last several weeks beyond listed expiration dates this way.
    -Glass jars are great for storing large quantities of spices and things like corn starch and sugar and TVP, all of which are WAY cheaper when bought in bulk from your local co-op, or online (I'm sure you can do that now). Preserves and pickles and salsa and whatnot too, of course.
    -Pizza boxes can be cut up with a pocket knife or boxcutter and used as plates for the pizza.
    -Pizza boxes, sub wrapping paper, and any other paper products with food products (namely oil) on them will gunk up recycling machinery, but MAN do they burn. Great for starting bonfires. They also make fine compost if there isn't much salt.
    -Freezer zip bags can be rinsed/washed and reused continuously for months. Regular zip bags will still last weeks.
    -Quality tea can often be used twice, although the second time you need to steep about twice as long.
    -When you empty a bread bag, turn it inside out in the sink, rinse, dry, and reuse for leftovers ad nauseum. They last a while.
    -The next time you bake a potato, instead of breaking it open just cut it up and eat the skin too. It's basically flavorless fiber and minerals.
    -Overripe bananas can still be used in smoothies, cakes, or muffins.
    -If your thawed fish fillet is a day or two past its prime but not obviously bad yet, try adding a little chili powder, wrapping it in lettuce, then wrapping in foil and baking. You can eat the lettuce too.
    -Spent coffee grounds make good weed inhibitor. The reason the seeds (beans) have so much caffeine is because it dissipates into the soil and inhibits the growth of competing seeds. Established plants don't get impacted by the caffeine much and most garden plants don't mind the decrease in soil pH.
    -Spent tea or overripe citrus can be used as fertilizer for blueberry plants, because they like very acidic soil. Don't use coffee - too much caffeine.

    Meds:
    -Very few pill-type meds will ever expire if kept sealed, dry, and away from light (only applies to some). Your OTC tylenol or ibuprofen that 'expired' in 2012 are most likely fine, and if you end up with some leftover prescription painkillers or cough pills, keep those around too. Use small silica gel packets for long-term storage.
    -Antibiotic ointment also lasts for ridiculous time spans, even if just in the squeeze tubes. If it does its job, it won't be growing anything.
    -A varied collection of herbal and black teas can remedy just about any minor symptom. Stored in a glass jar with a silica gel packet, they will last indefinitely.

    Clothes:
    -Pants and outer-layer shirts can often be worn two or three days in a row without ill effects. They will last longer and you'll save water and energy and time by doing less laundry.
    -I wear clothes until they get stained or get small holes (jeans get punctures sewn shut). Then I wear them as work clothes until they start to disintegrate. Then I use them as rags for oiling furniture or cleaning my car. Then I burn them if they are cotton and weren't used with harmful chemicals. The same life cycle applies to towels.
    -Hang-drying what you can will extend the lifespan of your clothes and your dryer.
    -When your shoes wear out, you can make minor repairs by hand with a leather needle and polyester thread, and keep using them as work shoes.
    -Cotton dryer lint makes disturbingly good tinder. Mixing into vaseline makes it burn longer, and adding a little wax to that renders something akin to a starter-log chunk.

    Misc.
    -If you have a boat, expired marine flares can be used for practice, or will last in your car for quite a while. They will last far longer if stored in an air-tight container with silica gel, as water exposure (splash or humidity) is what breaks them down.
    -Never buy cat toys: just give them balled-up receipts and scrap cordage. Free, and your cats will probably enjoy them more. Bulk yarn is a cheap option.
    -Dead lithium batteries can be disassembled and the cells extracted: lithium reacts violently with water. Literally have fun with them, or get creative. Just wear nitrile gloves and splash-resistant safety goggles, and do it outside away from flammable materials.
    -I have two copies of my EDC bag: the one I use, and one I bought new for a good price on ebay. As things wear out on my current one, I repair them and also reinforce the same spots on the replacement to extend its lifespan even further.


    What do you do?
    Last edited by Flabbergasted; 03-25-2017 at 04:53 PM.
    Sasquatch and Annie like this.
    I read on a motivational poster once that a mistake is only a mistake if you don't learn from it.
    Learning is good, but I think foresight is better.

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
    - Plato

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    Great list - except for one thing. Please, pretty please, remove the 'bulk yarn' as a cat toy! One of my mother's cats, many years ago, stangled to death in some yarn, got trapped in it and couldn't get loose, before anyone could notice and stop it. If you're a survivalist, you've learned the most important rule, without which all your best intentions will come to naught: anything that can happen will happen. Will it happen to you? It's up to you to do what you can to make sure it doesn't. Mr. Murphy is always waiting for those of us who think everything's somehow going to be okay for us - it won't be.

    It almost happened with one of mine but fortunately, I was already suspicious. I had two-month-old kittens and one of them, I happened to notice out of the corner of my eye one night, was hanging by the fringes, and moving oddly, of a blanket on the bed where my husband was sleeping - so heavily that my shouting wouldn't wake him. I grabbed the kitten to see what he was doing and his neck was wrapped in some of that wool fringe. (with age, those fringes gather lint making them stick together in a knot) I couldn't reach the scissors while holding him, keeping his weight from strangling him, so I had to reach across and give my husband a hard smack to wake him up and tell him to get them. After we got the kitten disentangled, I took those scissors and cut all the fringes off that blanket and anything else in the house that kittens could get to. To this day, 20 years later, I won't keep one thing that has any fringes, not a curtain, not a blanket; it still gives me the shivers just to see them.
    Last edited by lupine14; 03-25-2017 at 05:32 PM.
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    We used to recycle here. One day the sanitation dept. decided they wouldn't use the small square bins we had anymore. I think they changed venders. Now we have to request a wheel bin the same size as the trash can, and they want me to pay for it. I said screw it, I ain't paying them to pick up recycles that they turn around and sell. Now everything goes in the trash can at the Boss Dog Compound.
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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by lupine14 View Post
    Great list - except for one thing. Please, pretty please, remove the 'bulk yarn' as a cat toy! One of my mother's cats, many years ago, stangled to death in some yarn, got trapped in it and couldn't get loose, before anyone could notice and stop it. If you're a survivalist, you've learned the most important rule, without which all your best intentions will come to naught: anything that can happen will happen. Will it happen to you? It's up to you to do what you can to make sure it doesn't. Mr. Murphy is always waiting for those of us who think everything's somehow going to be okay for us - it won't be.

    It almost happened with one of mine but fortunately, I was already suspicious. I had two-month-old kittens and one of them, I happened to notice out of the corner of my eye one night, was hanging by the fringes, and moving oddly, of a blanket on the bed where my husband was sleeping - so heavily that my shouting wouldn't wake him. I grabbed the kitten to see what he was doing and his neck was wrapped in some of that wool fringe. (with age, those fringes gather lint making them stick together in a knot) I couldn't reach the scissors while holding him, keeping his weight from strangling him, so I had to reach across and give my husband a hard smack to wake him up and tell him to get them. After we got the kitten disentangled, I took those scissors and cut all the fringes off that blanket and anything else in the house that kittens could get to. To this day, 20 years later, I won't keep one thing that has any fringes, not a curtain, not a blanket; it still gives me the shivers just to see them.
    You raise a good point; I'll revise that.
    I've heard of that happening before, so I don't give them the whole ball, just a foot or so at a time. If I'm going to run around with them I'll use a longer one but it stays with the rest of the ball in a drawer when we're not around. I mean, my cats in particular should have died multiple times each already, so I doubt yarn will get them, but you're absolutely right - it isn't worth taking chances.

    EDIT: Hm. I can't seem to revise the original post. That's weird.
    I read on a motivational poster once that a mistake is only a mistake if you don't learn from it.
    Learning is good, but I think foresight is better.

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
    - Plato

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    I recycle the lead wheel weights I get at work! We were told to recycle them,but they did not specify how to! LOL
    AquaHull likes this.
    We have a four box system,the soap box,the ballet box,the jury box and the cartridge box!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flabbergasted View Post
    You raise a good point; I'll revise that.
    I've heard of that happening before, so I don't give them the whole ball, just a foot or so at a time. If I'm going to run around with them I'll use a longer one but it stays with the rest of the ball in a drawer when we're not around. I mean, my cats in particular should have died multiple times each already, so I doubt yarn will get them, but you're absolutely right - it isn't worth taking chances.

    EDIT: Hm. I can't seem to revise the original post. That's weird.
    Thank you for your response! Even one foot of loose yarn is too much for a kitten. You may have a dozen cats who've taken chances and nothing bad happened and then you can lose the one and you'll never get over it as long as you live - worse, if anyone else in your home laughed at your concerns and the unthinkable happened, that relationship is ruined forever, so as you say, it's not worth taking a chance on something so easy to prevent. My husband and I had an agreement, our only important 'pre-nuptial,' that if at any time, one of us became worried over something happening, the other was to listen and help take necessary measures to alleviate those worries without question, let alone argument. Either of us could give a sharp order to the other in the middle of the night with full expectation of instant obedience - there's always time to argue after the emergency has been dealt with.

    If I told you that you can drown in a foot of water, you'd believe me, wouldn't you? You can! Two guys in my state passed out drunk by a creek north of Albuquerque and both drowned in water no deeper than that. That is odd that you couldn't merely edit a line. If it happened to me, I'd blame my slow connection up here in the mountains in the least-populated county of the state - "under-served" they call it - and I've lost a post or two completely trying to add or edit - but it's unlikely your connection is nearly as bad. Just in case though, if the site is very busy when you come in, try it again later and see what happens.

    I did a recycling of sorts in an extra lean-to for the dogs I added inside one of my porches when I lived in AZ, a double protection from cold wind that might be worth mentioning because it worked so well. Some of those dogs weren't even mine but a brother-in-law's so I was often hosting 'guests' who were used to being outdoors (read: wouldn't come inside) but still liked shelter - and food - at my house in bad weather. I had a lot of plastic bags from the grocery store around, since I always re-use those and some old clothing that was past repair. I taped layers of those bags all over the inside of my plywood 'doghouse,' then stapled all those clothes over the bags, wherever it needed it, so the result looked rather like a quilt. I had one end of the lean-to already blocked and hung wool blanket as a 'door' on the other. The dogs didn't even tear it down or damage it in any way and the shelter stayed warm, especially with their own body heat because it didn't leak out.

    So we should never throw out old clothing, no matter how bad it looks. In a pinch, when we need insulation, we can fix up our bunkers just like a padded cell - and feel right at home.
    JustAnotherNut likes this.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by lupine14 View Post

    So we should never throw out old clothing, no matter how bad it looks. In a pinch, when we need insulation, we can fix up our bunkers just like a padded cell - and feel right at home.
    I have trash bags of used clothes for that very reason.
    Annie likes this.
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    For cat toys, nothing beats the rings you pull off of plastic milk jugs and soda bottles. That, and old rags, wash clothes and hot pads. My fuzzbutts love tearing into those.

    I also clean out the nice heavy jars many food products come in. Some are better than what you can buy outright. The small jars I get Smuckers ice cream toppings in make great storage containers.

    I darken the doors of several restaurants and bakeries, looking for food-grade buckets they would otherwise toss into the dumpster. Clean 'em up, rinse with bleach water and maybe let them sit in the sun a few days with coffee grounds in them to get the smell out, and they're ready to pack away MY food.

    I usually don't toss printer paper away (we don't have recycling here). I set it all in a pile, face down, and have plenty of scratch paper.

    Although I still use alkaline batteries (some of my stuff doesn't like rechargeables), I keep them to a minimum and went to rechargeables years ago.

    I belong to an organization that has a fund-raising breakfast every month. Usually, we have some eggs left over, and they won't last until next month. They let me take them home and hand them out to some of my more needy neighbors. Better that than they end up in the landfill in 3 weeks.

    Old clothes, especially cotton shirts, get cut up and made into char cloth. Others get cut up and added to the bundle of rags under the bathroom sink, in the garage, out in the shed etc.

    Anything of $$ value I no longer have need for, but wouldn't sell on fleabay or Craigslist, gets donated to the local Goodwill.



    And my favorite:

    Old smart phones that no longer have service (like when you upgraded) can still be used by the wee ones. You can still hook them up to your home's wireless and they can download apps, games, music etc to their hearts content. And............... at least in the US............. they can dial 911. Yep, that's right. You don't need to pay for cell service to dial 911 in the USA. Law requires all cell phones to connect to 911 regardless!!! This feature is also great for those you know with medial needs, the elderly etc.
    JustAnotherNut likes this.
    Keep calm and try setting SCE to AUX.
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    I reuse a bunch of stuff. If I can store it easily, I hang onto junk until it becomes treasures.

  11. #10
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    I cut up toilet paper rolls and use them for fuel in my bee smoker. We use plastic bags from the store as liners in our wastebaskets. Newspaper and paper sacks are used for mulch on the garden. lint from the dryer is used for firestarter. If only getting one item at the store I tell them to keep the bag. When i buy fruit in jars I make sure the jars can be reused as canning jars.
    fangfarrier likes this.

 

 
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