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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Big Triple R's

What's the Big Triple R's, you ask... Recycle, Reuse, Reduce.  As many of you know from some of my previous posts, I am often haunted and distraught by the remains of trash on the beach.  I certainly realize a lot of rubbish is washed in from distance shores, but there is also a lot that is left by locals (oh my!), tourists, and fisherman (another sigh).  I know we can't control all the washed up trash and debris- but there's many things we can do in our our homes and the places we frequent through our travels. I've often thought, as I wander down the beaches of all the trash I see, how I could literally survive, if need be, on the remains of what's be left behind.  Grant it, were talking extreme survival, but it certainly would be possible.  I'm not really a fan of survival shows- but that would be a good one.  Drop off people miles away from civilization, only to survive off the debris and washed up items the sea has to offer.
Even my own family, as conscience as we try to be about the 3 R's, can and need to do more!  The 3 R's take time.  Some people don't want to mess with all that's involved with getting involved.  I hope to, in this post, to highlight some easy, but very effective ways to 'triple R'.

Learn to compost! It saves money on fertilizers and your plants will love it. Many things from household trash can safely and readily decompose and return to the soil. Composting is one of the simplest and most effective recycling methods. Both your garden cuttings and your green kitchen waste can go into an outdoor or indoor composter (with or without entertaining a population of worms). If you don't have a garden yourself, find neighbors or a community garden that can make use of your soil. Composting food scraps will mean your regular kitchen wastebasket fills up more slowly and also won't smell. Hotter, more active compost heaps can also consume tougher stuff like newspaper and paper napkins. After Christmas, many cities also have programs for turning your tree into mulch.

This great Etsy shop has some great recycled containers that were made into kitchen top canister for composting.  They also have some other great items avail.  Visit their shop here:

You can also purchase a fancy compost canister that is handmade!  Visit this great Etsy for one or search for other sellers on Etsy.
This shop, also has a great grease catcher too!  Take a look at her glazed pottery canister-

 Donate your household items to a local charity like Goodwill or Salvation Army, or schools and churches for special collection drives instead of tossing them in the trash. Lots of charities welcome your donations. Groups like Freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org/) and Recycler's Exchange (http://www.recycle.net/exchange/ ) exist to help you get rid of useful objects that you just don't want to make use of. If you're in a Craigslist city, make use of the "free stuff" section. Give away clothes that don't fit, the boxes you used in your last house move, or scented soaps that don't appeal to your sensibilities. Make it a rule in your house that nothing useable goes in the trash until you've given the community a fair shot at it.
Use rechargeable batteries and other rechargeable devices. Buy reusable quality products such as non-disposable cameras, reusable or electric razors, reusable dishes, mugs and utensils, and have your child carry lunch in a reusable lunch box with real utensils (who really likes eating off plastic silverware?). Bring your own mug to get coffee. Paper cups waste money and landfill space. Plus, bringing your own cup to local coffee houses can save you money.
Reuse totes and bags when going to the grocery store or mall – reducing the need for plastic bags. Recycle your plastic bags.  Many people (like myself and my Facebook fans) reuse their old plastic bags as trash bags.  I have had a post on this before.  They work great!  It accounts for smaller amounts of trash in your home, and less need to purchase trash bags.  Note: when using the reusable totes, always make sure to disinfect them after each use.  Especially when transporting food items like poultry, and other meats.  Even fresh veggies- depending on what type of veggies you buy, they may have some chemicals on the veggies and fruits.  Take no chances- and always disinfect.  This will also help by reducing our chances of getting ill- which in the long run will save money on doctor’s visits.
http://www.etsy.com/shop/bloomorganics?ref=pr_shop – these are at great prices!  Visit thi shop for an array of colors.

 http://www.etsy.com/shop/QwertyO?ref=top_trail – This Etsy Shop has lots of great bags.  You can rinse your veggies and fruits right in these bags, and hang them to dry!  Check out her shop for more great ideas!

 Encourage an artist If you know someone interested in making art from recycled materials, offer to provide supplies. Many school children need items like paper towel tubes for art projects. Older artists use everything from rubber bands to oven doors. If you know someone who teaches art classes, suggest that an emphasis be put on making art from trash. While you're at it, remind them to use recycled paper and biodegradable, earth-friendly glues, paints, and pencils whenever possible.
Use old calendars, colorful pictures, etc. to make your own envelopes.  Here’s one example from an Etsy shop.

This shop owner has many great ideas for recycling and reusing.  Help support her shop by visiting it online.  Let them know- ‘SeaShellsbySeaShore’ sent you!

Recycle your old magazines --give them to doctor or dentist offices, gyms or friends.
When your incandescent light burns out, replace them with low-energy compact fluorescent tubes.
This Etsy Shop has a great idea for old light bulbs!  Check out her shop here: http://www.etsy.com/people/StarRedesigns

I have a friend that uses recycled coffee cans for bird feeders.  I personally have an old, large ceramic dish take we turned into a bird bath (which also doubles as my dog’s personal watering dish outside).  We found a great cut log on the beach, and simply set the large dish on top.  Etsy also has a variety of reused items made into great bird feeders, nest makers, hummingbird feeders, etc.  Here’s one of my favorites I found.  This Etsy shop uses old hubcaps upcycled into feeders.  I often see those hubcaps on the side of the road- here’s their version.  Great idea!

They have MANY great products from windchimes, clocks, and feeders!

There are also many great ideas to collect rain water, hose water, or air conditioner condensation.  My old employer hooked up small hoses, with tiny mister attachments through the hose from the air conditioning system outside- and literally waters most of his fresh herbs, and edible flowers for the restaurant.  It also works wonderfully for home flower beds.  With a little help from your local hardware shop- they can get you in the right direction.  You’ll be super pleased with the money you save watering.  This is especially great idea for areas that have watering restrictions during the summer.
I also found this Etsy Shop that makes beautiful painted rain barrels.  These are a fabulous investment for areas that get an abundance of rain.  Not only are they beautiful, but you can save that barreled water for more drought stricken times!  Check out this listing- and direct link to their shop- http://www.etsy.com/listing/76860448/egret-rain-barrel

Did you know you can make your our patio planters by reusing natural items like rocks, shells, etc.  I have a few handmade planters.  Martha Stewart had a show on these very planters!  Here’s a link to her article- http://www.marthastewart.com/270325/how-to-make-stone-planters

I’ve made them out of barnacles (super cool!), shells, rocks, and other found objects.  Don’t feel like you can’t try any durable material.   I need heavier containers- so I used straight quick drying cement (always use a mask when using cement!)  I love the look of them, and they are some of my best planters!

Styrofoam doesn’t degrade. Find a substitute, if possible. Don't buy styrofoam peanut packaging - but if some comes your way - reuse it! Here’s what one FB fan had to say about it! 'We have completely reduced using styrofoam to zero. We do not use styrofoam plates or cups and won't buy anything that comes in styrofoam.' 
Reduce paper and ink -- print double side and black and white. If you can’t find a way to reuse or donate it- Recycle all your Paper (i.e.: junk mail, boxes, magazines, envelopes, food boxes), Bottles and Cans (aluminum, glass, metal, and plastic).
There are a number of non-profit organizations that will take computer parts and turn them into working computers for others. Other groups will gladly recycle your cell phone or give it to a senior citizen, I love that one- cell phones will always make emergency calls (even without a contract!). Many families now do not have a home phone.  Keep an old cell phone charged and ready- if for some reason you can’t get to your phone- even a small child can dial 911 on the ‘emergency only’ cell phone.  Keep it handy and in the same spot always to avoid confusion.  If you have a major appliance that doesn't work and you'd rather replace it than try to fix it, offer it to local repair shops, trade schools, or hobbyists to tinker with.
Buy local products – it cuts down on fuel to transport and supports our local community.  Support local farmer’s markets- you’ll love the difference, and in most cases value!  Any lover of tomatoes can tell you- homegrown is always better!  It goes for many of the products you buy from them.  Visit craft and art fairs for memorable gift options for yourself and for others.  Most people appreciate something made by a local (or non local) artist or ‘grandma crafter’ much more than you’d expect.  I love supporting churches, and other groups local events.  Many are for a great cause- and you can get some fabulous deals from their garage sales, to good old fashioned crafts.  Get your children involved too- kids have blast at shows, shops, and places they can take $5 and buy a handful of goodies.  Many farmer’s market offer a great solution to cut flowers too.  I love fresh flowers, and they really go a long way to uplifting spirits in the home. 

Do your weekly shopping in a single trip to save on gas- and if possible buy in bulk.  I know it doesn’t always fit everyone’s budget, but in the long run it’ll save you money. Buy products with little or no packaging and buying the largest size you can use. (This not only saves the amount of materials being thrown into trash or recycling cans, but also saves money!) Be part of the recycling loop – purchase only items made from recycled materials.

Hang out clean laundry to dry on clear days rather than tumble drying it.  That always brings back fond memories for me.  First of all, I am not that old, BUT- I remember as a child having to use our old ‘washing machine’.  It had a built in wringer on top, and a washboard to scrub.  All the thing did was agitate.  We hang dried all of our clothes, and blankets. Boy, I wish I had that old thing!  Never thought in a million years, I would someday consider it cool!

You know, I could continue this post on for pages and pages.  Maybe we’ll do a follow up post will more great ideas.  Just keep this in mind- get creative, buy creative, and support creavtive when you think of using those 3 R’s.  Get your family involved too.  Once you start to master some good recycling traits- spread the word to local schools, churches, and other groups.  You’d be amazed some of the reasons I have heard why people don’t use the 3 R’s.  Some people think it’s just too much work, costs too much money, or takes too much time.  Maybe some ideas won’t work for everyone- but believe me- there is a way to make it work.  And, if done continuously, it will save you money, time, and work!  Visit Etsy, and other sources like Artfire, or Ebay- and type search words of the 3 R’s.  There are so many great creative ideas- and with some simple searches- you’ll find great ideas that work for you.


  1. Great post - I especially love the light bulb!

  2. I LOVE it! In my house I asked if we could start recycling and now it's a BIGG thing! 2 big recycling bins outside! We have more recycling then garbage!!