We all know the refrain “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, but sometimes forget those 3 words are phrased in that order for a reason – their order of impact. We can help the environment the most by reducing consumption. The second biggest impact comes from reuse. So, whenever possible, it's better to reuse than to recycle. Recycling is great, but many resources are consumed in the recycling process. It’s easy to throw an empty container in the recycling bin, but if you can actually find a practical new use for that container you're helping the environment even more.
This issue came up for me personally with regard to plastic milk jugs. For the last few years our next-door-neighbor asked for all our empty jugs. She's an avid gardener and uses the jugs as planting containers and transfer containers for digging up plants to share with others. Well, several months ago, she let me know that she had enough jugs to last for quite some time. So, I was left with the question of what to do with my empty jugs. Here is a list of ways to reuse them.
- Fill with water and use to fill empty spaces in your freezer. Your freezer runs more efficiently when it is full! – Then when filling a cooler you can use these as ice packs.
- Make a funnel - Cut of the bottom of the jug and turn upside down
- Fill the jug with small stones and place it in your toilet tank to displace water and reduce the amount of water used per flush.
- Fill with sand as use as weights to hold down a tarp or anything else you don’t want flying away.
- Make a bird feeder (click for details)
- Cut off the jug bottoms for use as refrigerator organizers. They can be used to keep produce organized and also are great for holding condiment bottles and catching drips.
- Make a scoop. Leave the cap on and cut off the bottom portion. Use the handle as the handle for the scoop.
- Use them to store dry goods (rice, sugar, etc.)
- Make a watering can - Use a small nail to poke about 20 holes in the cap.
- Do a fun craft project like this skeleton (click for details)