Our society is waking up to the fact that we can’t sustain our current level of consumption much longer. Due to economic considerations, as well as, environmental ones more and more of us are looking for ways to repurpose things we already have instead of throwing them away and buying new.
But before you turn your home into a fitting candidate for “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” here are some questions to consider when deciding what’s reusable and what’s trash.
Can You Envision Another Use for It?
Old t-shirts make great shoe polishing rags. Cardboard boxes are useful for mailing things, storing things and hauling things away to donate (sometimes for school projects, too). One use shopping bags make great trash can liners.
These are all things it makes sense to save, but there are other things you probably can’t realistically repurpose, like: a broken hair dryer, worn out shoes and expired cosmetics. Just throw them out.
How Long Have You Had It?
When my kids were in elementary school, I saved all kinds of things for potential art projects: seeds from our sunflowers, old greeting cards, expired rice and noodles, basically anything I thought they could cut up and glue to a piece of construction paper.
When they grew out of their “arts and crafts” phase, I got rid of all that stuff. I recycled what I could – paper and plastics – and disposed of the rest.
If you’ve kept an item for more than a couple of years, and haven’t found a use for it yet, you probably never will. Toss it and make room in your cupboards for something more relevant to your life.
Is it Something You – Personally – Can Use?
Speaking of which, some items may be reusable, just not for you. Mosaic artists can reuse broken glass and pottery, but that’s no reason for the average mom to keep a jar of it in her kitchen.
Just because you saw someone on TV turn some old ceiling fan blades into a lamp, doesn’t mean you should keep yours just in case.
How Many of Them Can You Use?
You can turn an old tin can into a pen holder or hair roller, but how many cans will you actually use? If you’re seriously intent on an art project or home hair styling, keep a few, but the rest should go in your recycling bin.
Is It Worth the Effort To Keep These?
Tin cans are a good example here as well. Their first use was storing food, so you’ll have to clean them before you can reuse them. How much work cleaning, scrubbing off labels or rehabilitating the item is necessary before you can use it?
This is a good question to ask any time you are considering saving larger items, that need a lot of storage room, or items that might take a significant effort to convert.
Is There an Easier Way To Recycle This?
We used to save things for the art teachers at my kids’ elementary school. They wanted old magazines, baby food jars and plastic strawberry crates. That was fine when I was going there every day to pick up and drop off kids, but it became inconvenient when they moved on to middle school.
If you find you have a lot of stuff hanging around the house waiting to be transported somewhere, and that stuff is recyclable, do the easy thing. Just put it in your recycle bin and be done with it.
There’s a whole crop of new parents toting that stuff the elementary school in your place now anyway.
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