What did you send to the landfill this week? Did you know that there are literally millions and millions of pounds of product in our landfills that are not even actually trash? Yes, really. There are all sorts of things that are still 100% useful that we throw away just as if there is no tomorrow. This article addresses some of the things that we have come to take for granted and outlines some fantastic uses for them.
1. Candle wax
Did you know? Candle wax, in most of its' forms, is completely reusable. You can melt the wax down, add a new wick, and have a brand new candles for a fraction of the cost it would be to just buy a new candle. There is also a way to use candle wax to make something that is often referred to as a "cooker". Layering melted candle wax and tissue (about 9 squares) in a shallow tin can, (tuna can, pet food can, of that sort), creates a canned heat that can last up to 30 minutes. That's plenty long enough to heat a can of soup or boil a little water.
2. Cans (vegetable, fruit, pet food, etc.)
Did you know? Tin cans of all shapes and sizes are actually treasures that can be crafted or re-used practically, or both. Why buy styrofoam to serve soups from a soup kitchen, and throw away cans that could easily be used to serve some things in? All it takes is a good dishwasher to sterilize them. (Yes, there is that small chance that there's one or two that gets a little nick on their finger. Times are tough! Suck it up!)
I think, also, back to my years of Vacation Bible School. (For those of you who reject bible school, that's fine and all, but there are still plenty of gatherings for children outside of church where they have the opportunity to craft, learn, grow, and play...think of it that way.) Cans can be painted or covered in cloth, or decoupaged, and then used for years as anything from a pencil holder to a toothbrush holder. I've seen kids use them for gifts (Mother's/Father's Day, Christmas, birthday, etc.) and have worlds of fun doing it, and it only costs a few cents per child. It's wonderful fun to see them develop hand-eye coordination through the creations, and they get a strong sense of satisfaction when their work is completed.
3. Baby food jars
Do you have a junk drawer? Nails and screws laying around loose? Hairpins? Brads? Ponytail holders? Dried herbs? There are dozens of things that clutter our world that can be neatly and practically stored in these little treasures.
4. Soda, water, juice bottles
How many millions of these bottles are in the landfill? Not only could they be recycled, they can be re-used. Fill a soda bottle with juice and stick it in a lunchbox. Refill a bottle of water, freeze it, and grab it on the go on a hot day. Fill them with a mix of half koolaid and half juice for the neighborhood kids. They'll love you forever, and you just might get a discount on their work around the house. :0)
Recycle, recycle, recycle.... There are trees now that are endangered in many parts of the country because of logging efforts, and it's no small task to grow new trees to make cardboard with. That doesn't even begin to mention how many trees die to make our cardboard packaging. Did you know that those trees clean our air and help build the oxygen? It's important to nuture our forests, more important than you realize.
Paper has to be recycled and re-used for all the very same reasons that cardboard does. This is truly not an option, folks. If we do not respect and take care of our logging industry, it is going to be crippled.
7. Broken dishes
All sorts of broken glass, porcelain and ceramics can be wonderful additions to any craft room. If you don't craft yourself, then just donate it to someone who does. Why trash something that can be turned into a treasure for someone?
8. Rusty baking pans
Again, if you don't craft or build, just donate them to someone who does. Pans make fantastic molds for stepping stones, garden decorations, etc., and they also are handy to have around outside. If none of that works for you, give it to a little girl who wants to make mudpies. She needs a new pan to work with, I'd bet.
It's nothing these days to see old furniture tossed out by the road to be sent to the landfill, and yes, some of it is beyond salvation. However, there are tons of furniture put out every day that could be re-upholstered or refinished to be a very functional piece for someone else. If you don't want to do the work, check with your local secondhand furniture store and offer to donate it to someone who does have the time and inclination to put forth the effort.
10. Plastic containers (coffee, butter, yogurt, etc.)
Some people already have a perfect little kitchen with pretty matching canisters, but others do not. These containers are excellent to use because they help deter pests and keep foods fresh and safe long, they are cheap...actually free. It does not matter if the kids drop them. The smaller ones, too, work beautifully in lunchboxes, because if they never make it home, who cares?
What do you do with a t-shirt that is stretched out and has a hole or two in it? The people of Appalachia save them for quilting. You know all those clothes that are getting tossed out with the garbage because they don't fit right, or the zipper is off-track, or there's a snag? There are people in this country who take those things and turn them into some of the most beautiful quilts you've ever lain under. It's not often that they market them, because they are embarrassed by the "home-made" "secondhand" quality that lies beneath the outer beauty, and they only market the ones that have "real batting" in them, but seriously, folks. Times are hard, and cover is cover. If you have cloth items, be they old sheets or curtains or jeans that are past their prime, don't trash them. Find your local quilters and donate. If you are donating quality items with little wear and tear, by all means, those belong in the thrift stores for those who cannot afford to shop at the mall, or who enjoy a bargain.
12. Lumber scraps
Throughout my years, I have aided and watched many homes in their building stage, from molding foundations to piecing together framework to installing walls to the finishing edges of molding and electrical plates. Scrap lumber is abundant at a home-building site, and if you have a special someone in your life who is at the right age, you can create the most wonderfullest gift for them out of that scrap lumber. It takes a few tools, like a saw (skill or scroll), and a little sandpaper, and a few drops of paint, and a little creativity, but I've often mused at just how many potential building blocks and ABC's and 123's blocks have been simply trashed or burned because no one had the inclination to capitalize on the resource. Bigger scraps can be turned into plaques, or keyracks, or paper towel holders, or welcome signs...the possibilities are endless.
Is your imagination at work today?