1   Take a hard look at what you buy – Do I need it?  Will I use it?  Could I make it out of materials I already have?


2.  Buy products with a long life span.   Look for appliances that can be repaired.  Shop for “classic”, well-made clothes.  When possible, select packages that can be reused.


3.  Buy large packages.  Things cost less that way and you’ll have only one package to recycle instead of several. Obviously, this backfires if you buy more than you can use and part of it spoils.


4.  Look for alternatives to paper products.  Use cloth napkins, regular dishes instead of paper cups and plates, rags made from outworn clothes instead of paper towels, handkerchiefs instead of tissues, etc.


5.  Avoid over-packaging.  Some manufacturers think consumers are impressed by bottles packaged in boxes that are wrapped in cellophane.  Prove them wrong.  Buy another brand whenever possible.


6.  Buy refillable containers.  Buy returnable bottles and cans that can be recycled instead of plastic.


7.  Encourage stores to sell unpackaged merchandise.  Buy fruits and vegetables loose, ballpoint pens without packaging, etc. Tell the managers you like the unpackaged merchandise loose so you can examine it more closely.  If you are worried about the number of people who may have handled the loose fruits and vegetables – fill your kitchen sink with cool water – add 1/4 cup of white vinegar, immerse the produce in the water for 5 minutes – take out and dry.  You’ll be shocked to see what came out in the water, but your produce will now be much healthier for you, especially if eaten unpeeled.


8.  Don’t buy disposable products.  We have become a “disposable society”.  Look for items (pens, razors, lighters, etc.) that are refillable.


9.  Buy products made from recycled materials.  Many recycled products list their origins on the label.  By buying these items you help create a market for scrap materials.


10. Make your preferences known.  Consumers do influence product trends by “voting with their dollars”.  Direct communication often gets quicker results.  Ask the manager to identify products packaged in recycled materials. If you want to see returnable bottles made mandatory in your state, write to your legislators.  If you find a product or package wasteful, write to the company and get your friends and neighbors to do the same.


11. Blister packages are irritating.  Have you ever struggled, ripped, slashed, poked with sharp objects and even used your teeth to open these no-choice packages? Consider stuffing the remains (after successfully extricating the product) into an envelope and mailing it to the manufacturer with a brief but pointed note explaining that, although you wanted the product, you object to its wasteful and annoying packing.


12. Love the calendar.  Save a set of 7.  The difference between one year and another is the day of the week January 1 falls on. You’ll never buy another calendar (except in the leap year).


13. The ultimate recycle – your organs.  Request a Uniform Donor Card from your physician. Also, donate blood whenever possible.  Call your local Red Cross to find out where and when to donate.




Here are some ABC items that you can re-use

Aluminum tins – The metal tins used for packaging frozen food are so useful that stores sell them separately.  Why buy an aluminum pan when you can get one free with your next frozen food purchase? Use them for burner bibs, little loaf pans, cookie cutters, reflectors, spatter stoppers (invert a pan over food to keep the fat from flying all over the stove.  Invert others over unused burners to keep them clean, use them as organizers – the perfect thing for segmented tins.


Berry Baskets – Line the baskets with floral moss and fill with a light potting soil.  Plant small flowers in the basket; add your own string/yarn as a hanger to make a charming miniature hanging basket.


Books – There are new big white boxes that say “Donate Books”.  If you just don’t need all those books, box them up and put them in these container.  The organization that collects these books donates them to poorer communities here in the US and abroad.  If you feel that your books are valuable or you just want to recover some of your initial cost – contact book stores such as B.A.M – they’ll buy them.  They also buy movies, videos, etc.


Boxes /Cardboard – Make a greenhouse for starting seedlings in the spring.  Select a middle size corrugated box with the flaps on the long side.  Remove the flaps and cut out the center of each panel.  Cover the sides with plastic (used plastic wrap or plastic bags that have been cut open). Fasten the plastic down with tape to make the greenhouse moisture-tight.  Set the box over your seedlings and leave them in indirect light.  In the fall – use this “greenhouse” to extend the growing season of cool-weather crops.


Brushes – Paint brushes can be used to dust off the leaves of plants.  Toothbrushes can be used to clean any small space – computer keys, bathroom tile, telephone dials, blender blades, etc.  A little baking soda on the brush will get out dirt between the stone and setting of your jewelry.  They can also be used to clean battery cables in your car, around the burners on the stove and between the blades of a double edge razor.


Buttons – Ever lose one glove?  Try buttoning them together and keeping them in the pocket of your coat.  Sew a button to one – make a buttonhole in the other and “button” together.  Don’t want (or know how) to make a buttonhole in that favorite glove?  Cut two pieces of iron-on mending tape a little wider than the button and one inch long.  Put the patches directly over and under the place where the hole will be made and press with a hot iron.  Use a sharp razor blade to make a slit the size of the button.


Candle Stubs – Use small stubs to help grease stuck things – irons (steam or not), drills, needles, nails, drawers and windows. Use on snow shovels to help snow from sticking to them.  Melt them together with crayon stubs shavings for a “new” candle.


Cans – Make your own ADACAN™ – Insert wire holders (made from coat hangers) to support cans at a slant on a pegboard.  Fill as needed.  Ripen melons on the vine by putting them in water-filled cans.  The cans collect solar heat during the day and release it at night when melons do their best ripening.


Christmas Trees – Trim the branches off the trunk and use to mulch bushes.  Put a tree on its side in a protected spot where the birds can use it as a winter sanctuary.  Trim it with popcorn and cranberries.   Make little pillows out of sheer scraps of fabric and fill them with needles to freshen drawers and closets.


Cleanser Cans/Bug Trap -Open the can, put bug bait inside.  Snap the top back on and place the can in the path the bugs travel in. They’ll crawl through the holes, eat the bait, die and you just have to dispose of the can.  This method keeps the bait away from kids and pets and you don’t have to sweep up tiny corpses.