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General Tips From...
Rae: Hold on to all unusual items. Store them in a box so you can use them later for crafts. If you don't do crafts, store them anyway and then take the box to a local elementary school or church so the kids can make crafts.
Luisa: Try making new toys for your kids out of old objects.
Shelley: Instead of buying Easter egg dyeing kits, make your own using vinegar and food coloring.
Lovely Girl: Use your purchasing power. Look for the Eco-label.
Me: Kids, when buying lunch at school, reuse your plastic utensils. Wash them after lunch and leave them in your locker for the next day.
Me: When you pick up too many napkins at a fast-food restaurant, don't throw the extras out. Take them home or keep them in your car for tissues, checking oil, etc.
Marie: Get friends to reuse envelopes by asking them to use labels.
Carie: When washing clothes, use vinegar as a fabric softener during the rinse cycle and you won't need to use fabric softener sheets.
Carie: Wear natural fibers (such as cotton) to reduce the need for fabric softener sheets. (There is not as much static build-up in natural clothing.)
Unknown: Save stale crackers, breads and cereals. Next time you go to the local park, take them with you so you can feed the ducks and geese.
Unknown: After your children have finished using their small, plastic pools for the day, use the water to water your plants.
Gayle: Write to companies and demand corporate responsibility for over-packaging of products. Ask them to use recycled newspaper instead of styrofoam crunchies when shipping smaller items in a larger box.
Refqa: Collect fliers which have been scattered around the ground and recycle them.
Alan: Not all resources can easily be reused (such as water). Instead, try not using such things as frequently. For example, there is no need to shower every day, nor do you need to flush the toilet every single time you use it.
Recycle Boy: Plastics are accepted at recycling centers. All types of plastics are recyclable, which means don't throw them away!
Recycle Boy: Try forming "recycling pools" where you and your neighbors can take turns going to the recycling center. Drop it off on the way to or from work.
Debra: If you ship items by mail, apply little stickers made out of leftover mailing labels or other found materials that will carry a recycling message to the recipient.
Lori: Save all of your junk mail and take it to your recycling center.
The best way to reduce garbage, of course, is to not bring it into your house in the first place. Here are some ideas which may help prevent waste from crossing your threshold:
Use mechanical pencils (plastic or metal) instead of wooden ones. You will only need to buy lead refills.
Don't use paper plates.
Don't use plastic utensils.
Don't use disposable straws. If you need a straw, get one of the funky plastic ones that make squiggly shapes. These can be washed and reused.
Instead of using baggies or plastic wrap, use tupperware.
Take your own bag when shopping.
Don't use disposable baby bottles.
Don't use disposable diapers.
Don't buy Easter egg dyeing packets which include containers. You have all the containers you need at home.
Make your own Easter egg dye (so you don't have to buy a huge box for six tiny tablets). Some food coloring packets have instructions for this on the back.
Don't use plastic sticks for stirring your coffee. Keep a reuseable spoon on hand for that.
For a worthwhile cause which helps keep garbage out of landfills while working with disabled youth check out Sunshine Industries. Wood which would otherwise find it's way into a landfill is rescued and transformed into beautiful crafts which you can order for your home. There are a lot of pictures on this page, so give it time to load. It's worth the wait!
Just a side note for all of you environmentalist students out there: I started a "Get Trashed" contest at my university. People sent in their ideas for reusing trash, and the most creative idea won a prize. I received some really neat ideas, many of which I incorporated into my own lifestyle. This was a great way of getting people to think about and participate in saving the environment. Try it in your own school!
How to Make Your Own...
Remove the net from a soccer goal (or any other net).
Cut a large circle from the good portion of the net.
Weave a string or rope through the outer edge of the net to create a drawstring.
Fill with balls.
Bee and Wasp Catcher
Combine 4 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar.
Heat and pour into a two liter plastic bottle.
Cut two small "X's" in the top sides and push inward.
Replace the cap on the bottle and hang from a tree using a broken shoelace. It will catch hundreds of bees!
Bird Feeder Molds
You will need the plastic packaging that chocolate easter bunnies come in. They are in the shape of the bunny.
Line the plastic bunny shape with wax paper.
Mix honey or peanut butter with bird seed.
Hang from a tree using an old shoelace.
Candy-Filled Eggs from Egg Cartons
Cut the bottom half of the carton away from the top half.
Cut the bottom of the carton into six sections, each containing two egg cups.
Decorate the outsides to make them look like Easter eggs.
Fill one cup from each of the six sections with small candies.
Fold each section in half so that one of the egg cups rests on top of the second one.
Attach the top and bottom together with a twistie.
Place it inside an Easter basket, or hide them around the house for children to find.
If you make your own eggs, you don't have to buy the plastic ones at the store.
Cards from scrap paper and cereal boxes
Cut and fold the cereal box to the size you would like your card to be.
Place the cardboard on a piece of scrap paper. The picture side of the cereal box should face the used side of the paper so that only blank sides face out.
Cut the paper so that it is larger than the cardboard. (How much larger will depend upon the size of the border you would like.)
Fold the paper over the edges of the cardboard and glue to the inside. (This will form a border on the inside while making a nice transition from paper to cardboard.)
Make sure that the card will close with the paper on the outside.
Decorate the outside of the card as well as the borders. The more you decorate, the less likely you are to see what is on the other side of the paper.
Put it in a custom-made envelope.
Cards from Valentine's Day Candy Boxes
Cut a heart-shaped candy box so that you have two flat heart shapes.
Punch a hole in the top of each hump of the heart.
Using a short piece of red yarn, tie a bow at the top of each hump.
Write a message inside.
Decorations from Valentine's Day Candy Boxes
Cut a heart-shaped box so that you are left with two flat hearts.
Cut a hole the size of a picture in one of the hearts.
Place a child's picture in the hole and then tape it to the back of the heart to keep it from moving.
Place the two heart shapes on top of each other, and then punch holes all the way around the perimeter of the heart.
Use red yarn to attach the two hearts together by weaving it through the holes.
Charcoal Fire Starter
Use CARDBOARD egg cartons only!!! Fill each egg indentation with wax so that it is between one-quarter and one-half full. Place a charcoal brickette in each indentation. (If you are going to store this for future use, close the carton and place on a shelf.) When you are ready to use, remove the top of the carton, and place the bottom half in the grill. Light the carton. Wait a few minutes and then add more charcoal. This will eliminate the need for lighter fluid.
Take the wire from a spiral notebook and straighten it. (The wire from a five subject notebook is NINE FEET LONG!!! Can you believe that?)
You will need a total length of 4.5 feet, and the number of 4.5 foot wires you will need depends upon how thick you want your hanger. (I recommend using at least 2 pieces of wire, otherwise the hanger won't be strong enough to hold anything.)
Twist the two or more pieces of wire together as tightly as you can. Be VERY CAREFUL when twisting since the wire will fling upward toward your face--you might want to wear safety goggles.
Bend the wire into the shape of a clothes hanger--it helps to use an actual one as a sample.
When you are finished, wrap and secure shoelaces tightly around the wire to prevent snagging any of your clothes.
CAREFULLY melt the crayon into a puddle (warning: hot wax hurts!!!). While the wax is still wet, dip the tip of a match into it. This will damp-proof the match (although it will not water-proof). When you need to use the match, just break off the wax.
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