4Rs Tips for 02.19.2023 – How to Build a Lifestyle of Reuse and a Circular Economy

Build habits that support Reuse in everything you do with these helpful ideas.

How we use, and Reuse, materials has become one of the most critical issues in our environmental impact as humans. We can not continue the one-way street our materials are on. We need to work toward a circular path for everything we use.

Our Disposables Issue

The biggest culprit in our waste crisis is single-use plastics. It seems everything is packaged in them in order to make life convenient, even if that means more trash than necessary.

  • While we’re focusing on Reducing the number of disposables we use, see my last post on 3 Ways to Reduce: A Return to Basics, we also need to learn how to Reuse the disposables we already have or can’t avoid buying.
    • Though most disposables can go in recycling, putting them in the bin doesn’t mean they get recycled, especially plastics. 
    • If we can find Reuses for disposables we eliminate emissions from processing and transportation caused when we recycle or dispose of them.

With the internet at our fingertips, we can find ways to Reuse just about anything, including my favorite idea on how to Reuse plastic juice bottles.

Reuse Juice Bottles as Travel Size Snack Containers

If you regularly buy single-serve juices, please don’t buy the kind in a pouch. Pouches can’t be recycled or Reused. Buy plastic bottles that have a number of Reuses.

I have a favorite aloe juice I enjoy that only comes in single serve. I’ve started washing and saving the bottles. I’m planning a writing retreat in the wilderness and having these lightweight bottles to carry trail mix in will be perfect.

Reusing plastic containers has a significant impact
on reducing waste and emissions.

We need to look at the trash we generate and think about ways to Reuse it and avoid emissions and landfill waste caused by throwing it out.

It all comes down to what we do with disposables and
unwanted durable goods

Start looking at every item you touch and think, what will happen with this when I’m done with it?

  • If you have plastic bags (it’s okay, we all end up with a few even if we have Reusable shopping bags or food storage bags).
    • Handy Reuses for plastic bags.
      • They’re great for carrying lunches.
      • Line small trash cans with shopping bags.
      • Find crafts you can make with them.
      • Look for ways to use them in your garden.
    • Even disposable food storage bags, like zip-close bags, can be used over and over.
      • I have some I’ve been washing and Reusing for years.
    • Save the bag your bread comes in for lunches.
      • Use them to carry sandwiches or chips. 
      • They’re made to keep your bread fresh and work great for other foods.
  • Drink like an Ultimate Reuser. Way too many people use disposable beverage containers on a daily basis.
    • Carry a Reusable hot beverage mug, and water bottle.
    • Don’t drink bottled water – we need to stop this plastic use.
      • Bottled water isn’t healthier. A home water filter is better, and cheaper.
    • Participate in bottle deposit laws if you have them available. This is the best way to guarantee the container gets recycled.
      • Over 40 countries and regions have bottle deposit laws.
        • Over 90% of beverage containers get recycled in some of these regions.
        • When surveyed, people using them like that they have it available.
      • Whether you need the money or not, turning in beverage containers for the deposit you paid is the best way to make sure they get recycled.
      • You can give them to people who need the money.
        • I have a friend who lives in a walk-up in the city; she leaves her bottles on the sidewalk at her entry for the homeless people. 
        • I give mine to my neighbor who is a low-income senior and uses them to pay her bills.
  • Buy beverages in aluminum cans. It can be recycled repeatedly and does more to support a Reuse economy than any other material.
    • Plastic can only be recycled once if it even gets recycled.
  • If you can’t avoid buying them, get creative with ways to Reuse disposables.
    • I love that you can make landscaping bricks from plastic bottles. How cool is that!

Though we can’t control how businesses package our food or goods, we can support organizations by helping them move to Reusable packaging.

  • We need to support organizations like Upstream Solutions. They develop Reuse programs and bring us The Reusies, among other things like fighting for environmental justice and a circular economy.

A circular economy, where economic growth comes from the continuous use of already mined materials, depends on us developing a Reuse Mindset. Not only with disposables but with everything we buy and use.

Non-Disposable Items Should Be Reused and Repurposed

Even if something can’t be repaired, the materials can likely be captured and Reused to make something else, a.k.a. Recycled. Metal, for example, is too precious to send to landfills when we have so much demand for it.

  • Repairing things that have stopped working is the first choice we should make.
    • One of my favorite newsletters is from GoingZeroWaste.com. It’s full of great tips, like this article on Reuse and repair: 4 Things You Should Know How To Repair.
    • Even if you don’t want to keep an item, why not repair and donate it for someone else to use?
      • The value of investing your time shows up through the people helped in your community.
      • Donate to thrift stores that help people in need.
        • It’s a tax write-off, ya know.
  • We need to get better at Reusing computers and digital equipment. Electronics end up in landfills at an alarming rate. Because most of them contain at least one or two precious metals, it’s important we Reuse and Recycle them.
  • If you can’t repair it, get online and find out where you can recycle it. Very few things can’t be recycled, we just need to get them in the right hands.
    • My favorite database of resources to find where to recycle just about anything is Earth911.com.
  • Another one I’ve found useful is RecycleNation.com.

Why It’s Important

One of the best ways to significantly Reduce waste on our planet is with solid Reuse habits. This needs to happen before we send materials off to hopefully be broken down and turned into something else through recycling.

  • The process of recycling causes emissions. So reusing materials before they leave your home is a lot better than putting them in a recycle bin.
  • Reuse is better than recycling because recycling doesn’t always work.
    • Most regions are really behind on having the facilities to recycle disposables.
  • When it comes to durable goods, finding the right way to Reuse or recycle them is really important because we need the materials to make more goods.
    • Nearly every item you own can be donated to make more furniture, computers, or gadgetry. 
    • This is how we build the circularity of our materials.
  • When we sell our used goods in our community we eliminate most emissions from transportation and manufacturing, and we positively affect our neighborhoods.
    • Donating goods to a charitable thrift store is a great way to do this.

With Much Gratitude

That’s it for this issue. I’ll be continuing my bi-weekly schedule of gathering tips to share with you on how to Reduce, Reuse, and Rethink Recycling. So, see you in two weeks. 

If you like this post, please forward it to every earth-friendly human you know. 

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Drop me a line anytime if you have questions or comments. I love hearing from you.

Thank you for reading these tips and subscribing. Pat yourself on the back for doing your part. Remember, everything helps.

We’ve got this!

All my best,

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