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Spring Mountain Living

Don't Take Out the Trash (Yet)

Krystyna ThomasWith the business of everyday life, it's easy to just toss things into the trash when you're done with them and move on with your life. Before you decide to take out the trash (or even the recycling), be sure to read through this list and consider an alternate disposal method.

Human hair & pet fur. 

· Keep pesky snails & other unwanted critters away by tossing around your garden bed. 

· Scatter it around your yard so that birds can pluck it up to use for nesting material.

· If you're in the market for a new style & have 10 inches or more to cut, consider donating to Locks of Love or Wigs for Kids.

· Compost. Hair is rich in nitrogen & will help to enrich your compost soil.

Don't forget the latex! It's easy to forget that latex is a biodegradable material. Instead of tossing, try composting items like latex condoms, gloves & balloons. It should take about half a year for them to disappear.

Save store containers & cartons for storage. Try repurposing containers from store-bought food instead of sending them off with your waste management driver.

· Use old coffee cans to store foods or store used oil & fat. Or you could use them as a flower pot.

· Glass jars are great for storing food items so that you can see what you are looking for.

· Use old milk jugs to protect your plants from frostbite or make bird houses. Flatten them for use as a one-time-use cutting board & then recycle.

· Reuse egg cartons. You can use them to organize & store small items like jewelry & beads. Or use them for art projects.

· Instead of buying reusable plastic boxes & bins, try using old cardboard boxes from shoes & mail deliveries for storing your items.

· Before buying containers for leftovers & lunches, try using the ones that your foods & snacks have come in.

· Use the metal tops of beer & soda bottles to make magnets.

· Don't purchase mailing supplies. Instead reuse boxes & mailing envelopes that your mail items come in.

· Make a Bubble Blower from old plastic bottles.

Turn your tennies into fun, not trash! Donate your old, beat up sneakers to Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program. Instead of an eternity in a landfill, your shoes will become a fun playground. If you have shoes that are still in great shape, try donating to a local shelter or thrift store.

Give old paper products a new life. Recycling old paper products is a great option, but there are other things you can do besides just tossing into the bin.

· Use old newspapers to strain fat from bacon & other meats.

· Have a fireplace or woodburner? Use old newspapers (or other paper products like toilet paper rolls) as a fire starter. Don't forget to use the newspapers from that bacon grease too!

· Shred junk mail, paper plates (non-plastic coated) & add to your compost pile. It's best to spray the top with a bit of water to prevent from blowing away.

· Shred any old papers & use for your cat's litterbox instead of purchasing expensive litter.

· Instead of buying giftwrap, give paper new life by wrapping presents with old newspapers, comics & even your child's art work (who has room to save all of their kids' amazing art?).

· Instead of buying paper & notepads to jot lists, make reminders or write notes, use the back of scrap paper. Everything from junk mail to school announcements and even the backs of old school work make great papers for lists & letters.

· Print on both sides of the paper. Extend the life (& cost) of paper by printing on both sides. If you're just making a casual printout or sending a fax, the backs of old scrap papers work just fine.

· Instead of wasting money & resources on plastic wrap or other cushioning, shred paper for use as packaging when sending an item in the mail.

· Make your own, unique, recycled paper! 

· Laminate your favorite pictures, drawings or torn out book pages & use them as placemats, coasters or dry-erase activity sheets.

Extend the life of your clothing.

· Try selling your old duds, or donate to a thrift store or charity. Mail in your old kids' clothes for free at thredUp & choose from a credit or cash out option.

· Swap clothing with friends. Trade some of the clothes you are bored with for "new" ones. Find a friend in the same size & swap out with each other. Trade the clothes your children have outgrown with a parent needing that size clothing for their child.

· Compost fibers that are natural. If you've got old worn & beat up clothes that have lived their last life, shred & add to your compost pile.

· Repurpose old clothing into rags for cleaning, drying, dusting & mopping.

· Make cute napkins!

· Craft a personalized quilt. Instead of throwing away those favorite T-shirts or baby clothes, cut them up & sew into a one-of-a-kind quilt.

· Use old sock cuffs to cut down on the time it takes to knit or crochet some socks. Handmade knit or crocheted socks can take a LONG time! Cut down on the time it takes to whip a pair up by adding an old store-bought cuff to the sock that you create.

· Make a Hacky Sack for your kids from orphan socks.

· Start (& follow through) on a Pinterest project to upcycle old duds into new ones!

· Use dumpster-destined duds as a filler for pillows, pet beds & dolls instead of purchasing at stuffing at the craft store.

Furniture & Appliances. 

· Sell your old furniture for extra cash or to fund a new furniture purchase.

· Put unwanted pieces on your curb with a "Free" sign so that another person may find a use for it.

· Donate items to a thrift store, charity or shelter.

· Sell your old washers, dryers & other metal pieces for scrap.

· Consider recovering couches & chairs before making a new purchase. Sand down & refinish worn or stained wood pieces.

· Use abused and worn furniture to create a whole new item. Make a shelf from old chair backs, a kitchen set from and old entertainment center or even a kitchen island from an old dresser.

· Use old chest freezers or similar appliances to store animal feed (& keep out pests to boot).

Electronics can be have another life too! 

· Sell or trade in your old electronic items. Many retailers offer "buy back" programs or credits for outdated phones or computers.

· Donate unwanted items to a charity or local school. If you donate to Goodwill's Computer Works program, your old computers & components will be used for training. If they can't fix what you donate, they will recycle for you. Or donate cell phones & computer items with free shipping labels to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 

Think before tossing toys. 

· Donate toys to a school, charity, daycare or thrift store. Or consider sending them to Infant Crisis Services. They provide diapers, clothing and more to children in crisis.

· Sell or consign for extra money or to fund the purchase of new toys.

· Pack them away. If you plan on having other children, it's a great idea to save toys. It's not only green, but it's a great money saver too.

· Make a wind chime or mobile from small, mismatched toys.

· Make Christmas ornaments.

· Using a glue gun, apply magnets to the backs of small toy pieces like legos, game pieces & figurines. Use to decorate your fridge or whiteboard.

· Repurpose old toys into one of these great ideas from Apartment Therapy.

How to handle kitchen waste/food scraps. 

· Make your own homemade stock or broth using bones & other kitchen scraps.

· Dry the peels from citrus fruits & use them to flavor your teas. They do a great job & can be store for months at a time, but be sure to scrap the pith out due to its bitter taste.

· Save already-been-squeezed lemon halves to use for quick cleanup of stovetop & counter spills. Simply rub the cut half over the spill & your work should be done!

· Rub the inner of a used banana peel on your shoes & buff with a soft rag to shine.

· Make a meatloaf or casserole with scraps or leftovers.

· Take a soap in a hot bath infused with scraps. Just fill a large tea bag with things like fruit rinds and used loose tea. Your skin will reep the benefits. Grind the scraps up in your blender or food processor & mix with a bit of water & salt or sugar for a homemade body scrub.

· Supplement your animals' feed. Scraps can be a great way to save money & supplement the food of your dog, cat or farm animals.

· Donate that produce or pantry item that you just know will go bad before you can use it. Local food banks, shelters & community centers will welcome the donation

· Compost!

Whether you're trying to save the environment, or just lower your cost of living, the above ideas can give you a great place to start.

Do you have other ways to reuse everyday things? 

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