The possibilities are endless when it comes to reusing typical household items such as plastic bags and bottles. There are many products in a household that can be reused, but so often people look over these items and throw them away or recycle them. Recycling is very important, but reusing is even better for the environment. The amount of energy, fuel, and transportation time it takes for an item to be recycled could have been saved if the item was reused.
In the United States we use around 100 billion plastic grocery bags every year. Plastic bags are so common that almost every household in America has some kind of plastic bag whether they are grocery bags or Ziploc bags. These bags are far from biodegradable, so if the wind carries them away to a place they shouldn’t be then they could easily block waterways and suffocate wildlife. Here are some creative ways to reuse plastic bags.
- Use plastic bags for trash can liners throughout the house.
- Wrapping plastic bags around valuable items that are being sent or moved around in the house can be very useful.
- Bring them back to the grocery store to be reused as grocery bags.
- Donate them to a thrift store or charity.
- Protect plants from frost by wrapping them securely in a plastic bag.
- Tie a couple of plastic bags to your knees to add some cushion while gardening.
- Tie plastic bags over bowls of leftovers before putting it in the refrigerator. This would replace having to buy plastic wrap.
The recycling rate for 29 billion plastic bottles is very low. Only around 13% ends up in the recycling stream where the bottles are turned into products like fleece clothing, decking, and playground equipment. Since the rate of recycling is so low this means that approximately 2 million tons of bottles end up in U.S. landfills, according to the National Defense Council. Plastic bottles take centuries to decompose and if they are incinerated, toxic byproducts such as chlorine gas and ash containing heavy metals are released in the atmosphere. To reduce the chance of this happening there are many ways to reuse plastic water bottles.
- Plastic water bottles can be used for an individual herb garden.
- Cut the bottom off some types of two-liter soda bottles and you can use it to squeeze fresh OJ or lemonade.
- Fill bottles with sand or water to use as impact resistant workout weights.
- Cut off the top of a plastic bottle and use it as a funnel in the kitchen or garage.
- Make vases for flowers, pens/pencils, or give them away as gifts.
- Do some science experiments such as a soda bottle volcano, fog in a bottle, or a tornado in a bottle.
- Refill it with different types of beverages.
Using all of these methods of reusing will not only save the planet, but will make you feel like you are making a difference. Here are two links to websites where you can get more ideas on how to reuse your plastic products.