Mind-Melding Monday is tapping into collective knowledge from around the world to solve problems and come up with the best answers to all sorts of questions.
Each week I’ll pose a question or two on the blog for readers to respond to while I investigate on my own and seek expert input, whether it’s for research, curiosity, awareness, or conversation.
The following week will address the results and ask something new.
Oh man, I think I opened a can of worms last week. I realized I do a fair amount with The Three R’s, but a little research showed how little that adds up to. We rank with the average household in Brazil for sustainability, which is pretty decent for Americans, but it’s not enough.
The planet’s in trouble. Let’s go zero waste!
That’s a huge subject for one day. Pump the breaks.
Today’s post will focus on common ideas for reducing and repurposing waste and, as I continue slowly getting my house “UnStuffed“, I hope to elaborate and/or post experiments later with the excess.
Also, as with any other MMM, this post will be updated with new and relevant info so keep adding to the discussion!
Questions from last week:
What are some unusual ways to reduce waste?
What do you reuse or repurpose?
This is the biggest part of a low-waste lifestyle because you can’t put out what you don’t take in.
Before you buy or use anything, ask yourself if it’s necessary and worthwhile. Can you borrow or make it? If all signs point to purchase, look for used items which tend to be higher quality than cheap versions of new things and will end up in landfills otherwise.
If you must buy new, go for quality. The $10 skillet I bought at Walmart stayed intact for about 6 months. The $25 cast-iron we got will last forever with proper care. They’ll both exist for longer than I will–one will still serve its purpose.
Plastic cutlery and straws – Find or make a reusable set. If you’re out and about without, go for finger foods, skip the straw, and sip.
Water bottles and coffee cups. Even if they are recyclable and recycled, it takes a lot of resources to do. Carry your own.
I’m sitting at my own kitchen table right now and this is how I roll. They don’t spill, stay hot/cold longer, and follow me everywhere–along with the books.
Plastic bags – Make or buy reusable totes. Here are 50+ free patterns.
Small containers – Buy in bulk when you can, it saves money over time as long as you manage it well.
Anything you can (and are willing to) make.
Make It Yourself
Forget packaging, unnecessary chemicals, and constant trips to the store. Here are a few ideas to try.
Here’s a Pinterest board full of DIY health and personal care products.
Photo from The Make Your Own Zone. Check it out for more details and DIY projects.
Recycle as much as you can. Check availability in your area. If you’re really devoted, push for better access near you.
Is composting considered recycling, repurposing, or reusing? I suppose a few things are combined.
You don’t have to spend $1500 on a setup like this when one can be easily made at home.
My neighbor made this. We share.
While it would be handy to have an automatic, in-kitchen composting unit, isn’t that just more stuff? We fill an old ice cream bucket, by the way.
Reusing as is:
Plastic zipper bags, lidded grocery tubs, jars, bottles, cans, paper and plastic bags, etc.
Many household items can be reused combined with objects of the like. Partial crayons, candles, soap, deodorant, and chapstick can be mixed/melted together and reformed.
(Keep containers for making your own.)
Refused as much paper as possible and still have stacks? Use it up.
Jars can be used for many things aside from bulk storage. If you don’t reuse/repurpose them, the hippy next door probably doesn’t have enough. Give them away.
You don’t have to hoard these things either. If you’re ever looking for containers and relatively-clean materials, raid the local recycling. I do it! I’ve found some really cool vases, planters, canisters, and little potion bottles in there.
I just admitted to dumpster diving, didn’t I?
Coffee Grounds – Generate a lot? Here are some surprising uses.
Plastic bags – 20 awesome ways to repurpose them.
Never waste bananas. If they go dark, put them in the freezer for banana bread, smoothies, or a cold snack.
Want to do more?
Check your ecological footprints here.
100 ways to repurpose and reuse broken household items – I’ve barely skimmed through this and am wondering how many things here might be considered “broken”. 😉
I hope you find this useful and help minimize the huge burden our species puts on the environment.
Question for next week:
Let’s make this one fun–there are serious projects to work on here!
If you could visit or live in the setting of any book or film, where would you go?
Let me know if you’ve got a question for MMM