Although we’re being asked to stay home during this time, we can still practice good habits that are environmentally friendly regardless of whether you are stockpiling supplies or not.
Many people have decided to stock-up on heavily packaged items such as bottled water, snacks, and shelf-stable foods. My main worry is that after quarantines are over, what’s going to happen to people’s stockpiles of stuff? Is it all going to be used up quickly and, therefore, landfills will grow even faster?
Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more articles reporting on companies that lie about items being recyclable and the amount of items actually being recycled. So while companies are contributing to landfills, we can help by keeping what we use up out of it.
Here are a few of my ideas:
1. Re-use plastic resealable packaging for snacks or lunches instead of Ziploc bags.
You can either leave them as-is or decorate them. I suggest not using stickers if you’re going to wash these regularly. I haven’t tried decorating mine, but if I do I’ll share what worked and how they turned out in a separate post.
2. Re-use take-out containers for food storage.
I use Little Caesar’s plastic containers to serve our cats their dry food. No need to buy fancy cat dishes. Whenever we get Thai food take-out, they usually package the curry in a cup-looking container with a lid. I re-use them for my work lunches, for keeping food cold, and I also use a couple for water for painting with acrylics and watercolors.
3. Re-use larger plastic containers for food scraps to compost later.
No need to go out and buy a special food scraps bin. Here’s a link to help you get started on composting.
4. Collect and re-use toilet paper or paper towel rolls for art projects.
I’ve been collecting cardboard rolls for a little while now since I saw a DIY project for an advent calendar. I plan on making it a re-usable one. There is a similar idea in one of these two links:
a. TP roll crafts for kids: https://diyprojects.com/toilet-paper-roll-craft-projects-for-kids/
b. TP roll crafts for kids and adults: https://www.countryliving.com/diy-crafts/g5006/toilet-paper-roll-crafts/
5. Re-use cans as pen holders.
You can paint and decorate them any way you like, or even keep them in their natural finish for an industrial look. I have two in my craft area that I haven’t decorated yet. One for pens and tools, such as scissors or a ruler, and one for brushes.
6. Re-use glass jars for canning, as drinkware, or for storing anything else.
I’ve seen DIY glass jar projects for candles, gifts, and party favors. As with the plastic containers, you can probably use glass jars with lids for leftovers or on-the-go drinks.
7. Re-use cardboard or plastic containers for toddler and small children’s toys.
If you have young children you know it can be difficult to keep them entertained. Here’s a useful video for activities you can do with your children in which Kallie Branciforte, But First, Coffee on YouTube, shows a few ideas for re-using cardboard tissue boxes, plastic containers, cardboard boxes, and other food containers for different little games and activities. This cuts out the need to buy new toys or games, which also saves you money! Kallie also has a blog post for this video if you prefer to read or quickly reference.
It may take a while to gather a large amount of any of these on your own, but you can always ask your family, friends, neighbors, or your local Buy Nothing group to hold them for you. All it takes is a bit of creativity and we can all do our part to keep our planet clean and healthy.
As always, our first step should be to stop and decide whether we really need an item or not. Ask yourself if there is a better alternative considering the packaging.
I’d love to hear any of your suggestions and ideas!
In the mean time, stay warm, stay safe!