Recycling — we all want to “go green” and be good stewards of the earth. But often, recycling seems to take more effort than we can muster. I know this from experience! Over the years, I’ve come up with some truly easy and painless ways to recycle within the home. These tips are good for the earth, and good for your wallet as well. Here are my favorite ways to recycle and save at home.
Recycle Cereal Boxes and Liners
The liner bags from cereal are some of my favorite things to recycle. Once the cereal is gone, I shake all the crumbs into the trash, and stack the empty bags in a drawer. I then use them for various things. Simply cut the bottom of the bag off and open it up. Voila — a ready-made surface perfect for kneading or rolling dough for cookies, noodles, or a pie crust. Roll the dough out between two bags for an even better result. You can also use the bags as a substitute for waxed paper, place them between layers of cookies and other baked goods.
We have used cereal boxes themselves as litter boxes for some of our small animal pets, like hedgehogs. Cut a box open the long way, fill it with some litter, and you have a free litter box. When it needs to be changed, just throw the whole thing away and start with a fresh box.
Reuse Plastic Containers
Don’t throw away that cottage cheese, sour cream, or frosting container when you’re finished with it. It can serve as a container for homemade jam, leftovers from dinner, or other items. It may not be the most attractive container, but it works in a pinch. For years, my mom and I have sent leftovers back and forth in these types of containers. When we finish with them, we can throw them away (or better, recycle them). There’s no worry about damaging or losing someone else’s nice container. Note that you may not want to microwave foods in these plastic containers. It’s safer to place the food on a microwave-safe plate first.
Repurposing Junk Mail Envelopes
Ah, those envelopes included in junk mail! We all get them. I feel bad about throwing them into the trash, so I always keep a stack in the cabinet. My favorite way to use them is to put all the coupons I plan to use on a shopping trip inside an envelope, then write my shopping list on the outside of the envelope. When it’s time to check out, the coupons I need are right at my fingertips inside the envelope. And after shopping, I can feel fine about recycling the envelope. It has served its purpose!
Using Free Calendars
I usually end up with several free small calendars. I like to keep one of these next to my computer to keep track of various things — for instance, you can do a survey at Kroger every 7 days to earn 50 bonus points toward fuel purchases. Every time I do one of these surveys, I mark on my calendar the next date I’m eligible to do so. I also keep track here of freebies ordered and when they are received, etc. Sure, you could track these things on your phone. But I think there’s something nice about having the information in front of me in paper form.
We end up with so much paper. It comes from junk mail, kids’ school work — you name it. For years, I have loaded this paper into my printer when I am ready to print something where it won’t matter if there is something on the back. A prime example is printing coupons. I always print coupons on “scrap” paper, and I have never had an issue with this. Of course, be careful of the paper you re-use. You don’t want to run off coupons on the back of last year’s tax return copies!
An added tip is to always choose black and white printing for coupons. I always cringe when I see someone redeem a coupon they have printed at home, in color. Black and white ink is much cheaper, so save that colored ink for the copies that truly need it.
There are my favorite easy ways to reuse and recycle at home. What are your best frugal living ideas? I’d love for you to share a comment about a way you save.
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