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Earth Day 2008 - R - Reuse

Toady's R is Reuse Like reduce this one is not only helpful to the environment but to your Wallet/pocketbook. When we reuse we help to reduce waste. There is some cross over between these two tenants of the 3R's. Some things that you can reuse starting today are Plastic grocery bags or better yet canvas bags (They are more durable I keep a few in my car so if I stop at the grocery on the way home I have it handy. Toys, Books, and video tapes can be handed down to or from relatives or friends. We received The complete Dr Seuss and Berenstain Bears from friends and family as well as some toys and videos. When our Daughter outgrows them we can pass them on as well. Clothes can be passed down most outfits that small children receive only get worn a few times before they grow out of them. Reusable storage containers for sandwiches and snacks can cut down on the use of foil and plastic wrap.
One project that you can take on that can be educational as well as beneficial is creating a backyard compost. Compost is one of nature's best mulches and soil amendments, and you can use it instead of commercial fertilizers. Your compost can vary from very low tech and inexpensive to a fit for purpose tumbler (which can be close to $200) each has its benefits. For more information on composting check out the Compost Guide
A compost pile can be set up in a corner of the yard with few supplies. Choose a level spot about 3- to 5-feet square near a water source and preferably out of direct sunlight. Clear the area of sod and grass. When building a composting bin, such as with chicken wire, scrap wood, or cinder blocks, be sure to leave enough space for air to reach the pile. One removable side makes it easier to tend the pile.
Many foods can be composted, including vegetable trimmings, egg shells, coffee grounds with filters, and tea bags. In addition to leaves, grass, and yard clippings, vacuum cleaner lint, wool and cotton rags, sawdust, shredded newspaper, and fireplace ashes can be composted. DO NOT compost meats, dairy foods, or any fats, oil, or grease because they can attract pests.

Start the pile with a 4-inch layer of leaves, loose soil, or other coarse yard trimmings. If you are going to compost food scraps (a slightly more involved process), you should mix them with yard trimmings when adding them to the pile. Alfalfa meal or clean cat litter may be added to the pile to absorb odors. In dry weather, sprinkle water on the pile, but don't get it too soggy. Turn the pile every few weeks with a pitchfork to circulate air and distribute moisture evenly. Don't be surprised by the heat of the pile or if you see worms, both of which are part of the decomposition process. Make sure children do not play in the composting pile or bin.

In most climates, the compost is done in 3 to 6 months when it becomes a dark crumbly material that is uniform in texture. Spread it in the garden or yard beds or under the shrubbery. The compost also can be used as potting soil.


Some other Reduction Ideas:There are many ways to reduce the amount and the toxicity of solid waste. By thinking creatively, many new uses for common items and new possibilities for source reduction and recycling can be discovered. Here are just a few ideas. Now, try some of your own!
Turn a giant cardboard box into a child's playhouse.

Transform a plastic ice cream tub into a flower pot.

Give pet hamsters or gerbils paper towel and toilet paper cardboard tubes with which to play. Use an egg carton to plant seedlings.

Turn used tires (not steel-belted) into children's swings or other playground equipment.

Select nontoxic inks and art supplies.

Combine source reduction techniques. For example, try storing coffee bought in bulk in empty coffee cans.

Choose beverages such as water or milk in reusable containers, where appropriate.

Place an order through the mail with a group of people in order to save money and reduce packaging waste.

Planet Pals

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