Always Remember: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Summer Ingalls, Staff Writer

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From water bottles and milk jugs to cleaning product containers and shampoo bottles, it’s safe to say that our homes are filled with plastic packaging that ultimately makes our lives more convenient. However, many of us, often unknowingly, throw away these plastic items that can easily be reused or recycled instead. Recycling and repurposing everyday plastic materials is a lot easier than many may realize, and can save you tons of money.

   Plus, properly recycling these plastics ultimately benefits the environment by reducing the need for more landfills and conserving energy. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. There are so many simple and creative ways to recycle, reuse, and repurpose plastic items, and we’re giving you the ultimate guide on how to do it all!

   So, which plastic items can be recycled? Here are some of the best and most common plastic items you can recycle: plastic water bottles, juice containers, milk cartons, peanut butter jars, salad dressing bottles, cooking oil containers, most cleaning product containers, bleach and laundry detergent containers, shampoo and conditioner bottles, as well as yogurt and butter tubs. Once recycled, most of these plastic containers can be turned into completely new products, including plastic food containers, tote bags, clothing, furniture, composite lumber, benches, carpet, pipes, pet homes, tables, and even fencing.

   Here are some easy recycling tips you can implement in your home to make the recycling process a breeze for you and your family. According to the website Plastics Make It Possible®, you can create a garbage and recycling center with separate, designated bins in your home so your family can easily toss recyclable items in a recycling bin instead of the garbage can. Educate your entire family on how to determine if an item is recyclable. Make a fun chart or list and hang it near your garbage and recycling cans. Plastics Make It Possible® is a wonderful resource for determining what items you can and cannot recycle (plasticmakesitpossible.com). Instead of tossing plastic cups and utensils, simply wash and reuse them. Use old plastic items in fun new ways.

   There are tons of easy and creative ways to reuse some of the plastic items in our homes. According to the website Reuse This Bag, there are a few ideas for reusing those plastic items instead of tossing them. Use old fruit juice bottles or milk jugs to water plants. Save peanut butter jars and use them to store snacks like cheese crackers. Use old salad dressing containers to mix and store your own homemade salad dressings. Store pet food in large plastic snack containers like the ones that cheese puffs come in. It will help keep ants away. Cut off the bottom of two-liter bottles and use them as small planters. They are also great for starting seeds (reusethisbag.com). “Wash and reuse plastic soda bottles as pretty water containers for refilling water glasses at dinner. That’s what we do at my house!” explained Sophomore Mika Asiag.

   If you want to get extra creative with your old plastic items and turn them into something completely new, here are a few fun DIY ideas to get your recycling started. Turn gum holders into small travel storage containers! These cute, customized containers can be transformed into mini sewing kits, first aid kits and so much more. A DIY phone charging station is another thing you can create. Use an old plastic bottle to make a caddy for your cell phone, and never worry about where to charge your phone again. With just a few items, you can turn an old cat litter container into a cat litter scoop. It’s genius!

   Recycling plastic items is extremely important for the sake of our environment. It helps to reduce waste and can help save you money. By using these recycling and reusing strategies, you will feel good about doing your part to reduce the creation of landfills, increase the quality of our air, and have fun using creative ways to make some of your own products without spending a dime!

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