Do Your Part: Recycling is great, but so is reusing

MONDAY, OCT. 24, 2011

Americans create an average of 4.5 pounds of trash a day and much of it comes from our kitchens.

Recycling is one option to reduce all that trash and composting is another. But sometimes there are items that we toss because we don’t have a greener solution.

Instead of trashing it, reuse it. Here are five of my favorite tips for reducing kitchen waste.

Egg cartons: Whether the eggs you buy come in paper, foam or plastic packaging, you can reuse them all.

These containers are perfect for preschool art projects, storing and sorting small items like nails and screws, or as seed starters.

Or, give them to the golfer in the family because each slot is the perfect size to hold and store a treasured golf ball.

Wine corks: If you are a wine lover, chances are you’ve thrown a few wine corks away. But there are lots of ways to give them more life.

Turn them into bulletin boards, coasters or even funky picture frames. They can also be cut into slices and put under furniture to keep pieces from sliding.

Milk and juice cartons: Those wax-coated milk and juice cartons can be difficult to recycle but there are an endless number of ways to reuse them.

They are easily turned into bird feeders that will last outdoors for months. The base of these waterproof containers is also perfect as paint containers for small projects or as seed starters.

Cereal boxes: A creative project for school-aged kids is to turn a cereal box into an organizer for school papers.

Any tall rectangular paperboard box will do. You simply cut off the top and decorate the outside with glued-on magazine clippings. The size and shape of the box is perfect for keeping all of their papers in one place where you can find them when needed.

Plastic food containers: All of those lunchmeat, yogurt or similar plastic food containers with lids are too useful to wind up in the trash.

Use them in place of all those plastic baggies to help pack waste-free lunches. You can also use them to store leftovers or for organizing small items throughout your home.

Reducing waste in the kitchen is another simple way to do your part. You can find more information and short how-to videos at DoYourPart.com/Columns.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, author and founder of DoYourPart, everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com and follow DoYourPart on Facebook and Twitter.

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