At my house, we try to make the most out of the least and that includes items others might throw away.
While recycling to save the planet as a green thing is commendable, my family “recycles” because it is the smart thing to do as a frugal conservative, not because it might reduce the pile of garbage on the planet.
That said, here is how we go about reusing stuff:
1. All the junk mail and cardboard toilet paper rolls are saved for my daughters who use it in homeschooling for practice with scissors and art projects.
2. Almost all of the food waste, except meat products, goes into a bin and is fed to the chickens.
3. All newsprint catalogs that come in the mail and phone books end up being shelved and used in the winter to help start heating fires.
4. All egg cartons are saved and used for keeping chicken eggs, art projects or for storing small craft supplies.
5. All leaves and other yard debris (not including grass clippings) go into a large, rotating composting bin and end up being brought back into the garden as mulch.
6. All the grass clippings are provided as fresh fodder for our neighbor’s cows.
7. All scrap metal is evaluated for reuse or recycling. This includes car parts, bolts and nuts, sheet metal and even bent nails.
8. All rigid foam insulation that is excess or leftover from home remodeling is saved and reused in various home and craft projects.
9. All our clothes are available to be recycled to “smaller” family members or provided to those we know who are involved in helping recently arrived refugees from Somalia, Burma and the Sudan.
10. I generally purchase used tires for my older vehicles.
11. We shop at garage sales, second-hand stores and trade items back and forth with other families.
12. We heat with a pellet stove, and reuse the plastic bags the pellets come in as trash bin liners.
13. All leftover construction lumber ends are stacked and reused for home honey-do work, or come in handy for 4-H or rock club projects.
14. I have "shopped" at Twin City Metals for used chain-link fencing and fence posts.
15. Craigslist, the Herald’s Bargains ads, 2-good-2-toss and the Wood Nickel are must-reads each week.
16. I have accumulated CD covers from the Herald's ad department to use for storing my daughters’ educational CDs.
17. I use an electronic multi-tester to check AAA and AA batteries to make sure they are no good before tossing them.
18. We also use rechargeable batteries and have the correct charging units for them.
19. We have discovered that using one or two small electric space heaters is a more efficient way to heat a home than leaving the forced-air heating system and pellet stove on while we are away for a day or night.
20. We keep the window blinds and drapes drawn at night and during the winter unless the sun is shining on that side of the house.
21. My two girls can generally share the same bath water.
22. We run cold water only for our clothes washing.
-- Reporter John Trumbo, who has worked at the Herald for eight years, 11 months and three weeks, delights in rusty heavy metal, stacks of old newspapers, used virgin growth lumber and recycled automobiles, which at last count was 8.75, give or take a few unclassified car parts, and not counting a 14-ton railroad caboose. He is married and much loved by all his girls.