In the modern developed world we are used to seeing the waste we create as someone else’s problem. It is often left out and whisked away and once out of sight it is often also out of mind. But this way of looking at the world will have to change. The waste we generate is creating problems that are already having, and will continue to have, huge ramifications.
In the oceans of our planet, plastic debris swirls in gigantic gyres. Plastic particulates fill our waters and infiltrate the entire food-chain. The health implications of our reliance on disposable plastic are only just now beginning to be fully explored. Landfill sites foist the problem waste of today onto the generations of tomorrow. The waste industry – its removal, transportation, sorting and disposal are all heavy reliant on fossil fuels and add dramatically to our individual carbon footprints.
It makes sense for us all to try to reduce the amount of waste we produce. We can do this by making sensible purchasing decisions and as a society by recycling what we can on a commercial scale, but we as consumers can also think twice before we throw things away.
Here are some ways to reuse the waste we create, rather than throwing everything away:
Toilet Roll Tubes
These are something that almost all of us will use and something that we will throw away without even thinking about it. Even when the cardboard comes from renewable forestry, and even though the cardboard is biodegradable, throwing them away can still add unnecessary strain to the waste disposal system. Instead of throwing away the tubes, why not use them for planting seeds? The tubes will protect delicate seedlings that do not like root disturbance as you can plant them in the ground, where they will rot down gradually like biodegradable plant pots. You can also use the cardboard tubes as bird feeders. Cover them in peanut butter and roll them in mixed seeds then hang them in trees. It is also a great idea to start a wormery or compost heap at home, which you can use to process your own cardboard and food waste locally. Not got the space? No garden? Why not think about starting a community scheme with some of your neighbors?
Plastic containers, where you are not able to prevent them from coming into your home in the first place, can often also be reused. Yogurt pots and other tubs can be pierced in their bases and used as plant pots, while shallow trays can be used beneath them to catch the drips. Plastic drinks bottles, if you are a gardener, can be sawn in half to make mini-cloches to protect delicate plants, or even, amazingly, used alongside some wooden framing to make a plastic greenhouse or a covered veranda or sun porch.
Glass Bottles and Jars
There are many uses for glass items around the home. Glass bottles can be used to line a garden path, or even mortared together to make a wall or garden feature. Glass bottles with screw caps can be reused to store water, home-made fruit juices or vinegars. Glass jars can also be reused – to store home-made preserves and pickles, as pen holders or vases.
These are just three examples of ways in which common household waste can be reused. So use your imagination and see if you can reduce, reuse and recycle your waste rather than making it someone else’s problem.