Use it Before You Lose It: 200 Ideas for Earth Day

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I’ve always been a bit of a packrat.

I’m working on reforming those tendencies, but it’s kind of a good fit with the “green” lifestyle, because in order to “reuse” – the second missive in the battle cry, “reduce, reuse, recycle” – you can’t be throwing everything away all the time.

So I do still keep a box (or two…maybe three) of bottles, boxes, and other odds and ends that I could use again to help me stay organized. I try hard to find ways to reuse anything I can before recycling, but I try hard not to over do it – I don’t keep every paper that comes in the house from school, for example.

My book club just read a great novel, Keepsake by Kristina Riggle, about a hoarder and how she deals with a crisis that forces her to bring her hoarding to the surface and even get help cleaning it up. As someone who has “piles” as organization, says, “I could use that someday,” quite often, and even lives with boxes lining the wall in our bedroom because I haven’t yet unpacked them (from moving December 2011), it was a little scary reading the inner thoughts of a hoarder.

If you need to do some decluttering in your house, Keepsake is the next fiction book you should read! Winking smile It’s pretty inspiring, introspective, and a really good story to boot. The author is local and even came to our book club, such a treat.

It made me think a lot about how I don’t ever want to have a home that feels so inhospitable that people can’t come over. I need to keep my eco-friendly “saver” tendencies in check.

That’s why it’s important to get ideas for how to use the things you keep, so that they are practical and useful, and not just junk in boxes.

For food ideas, I’m loving Carrie Isaac’s new From Garbage to Gourmet (no longer available), with 81 recipes and 118 full color pages of tips for NOT being part of the food waste statistic: the average American family wastes over $1300 of food per year. Yikes.

Today on Green Your Way, I put together a whopping TWO HUNDRED ways to reuse stuff you’d normally throw away, a little bit of food and a lot of other things. An excerpt:

Are you a “saver?”

You might claim it as your heritage (the Dutch are infamous for penny pinching and using everything fully) or inspired by an experience (those who lived through the Great Depression never threw anything away that had value) or because of your “green” sensibilities (it would be wasteful and harmful to the environment not to reuse things).

I’ve always been this way, like in kindergarten when I “saved” worms and salamanders until my garage took on the permanent smell of “dead animal,” and through grade school when I “saved” my most precious fancy-tipped markers (they dried out before I used them up) and my special watercolor set (my children still have it today, twenty years later…okay, 25 years), and of course into high school when I buried my room in things to “save:” memorabilia, keepsakes from dances, letters from friends I met at summer camp, and even triangular-folded notes passed desk to desk during class.

Now that I’m older and wiser – the latter being up for debate – I have much more of a yen to declutter and get rid of “stuff,” but I still feel the deeply entrenched urge to save things that I might use someday. It’s the green in me coming through – reduce, reuse, recycle. My decluttering focuses mostly on keeping new things from coming IN so I can work to use what we already have.

This month is host to Earth Day and a great time to focus on how much your family throws away. I challenge you to save some usable items from being trashed this month, and here are 200 practical ways to inspire you to “Re-use the Refuse…”

Read the rest right here, and get your clicky mouse ready to check out all 200 ideas!

Can you see the two in the top photo there? The list includes a handful of other garden ideas, too, if your green thumb is itching for good weather and planting season.

Meal Planning Reduces Waste

Meal planning is one of the best ways to reduce food waste that I know of, as well as simply staying on top of what you have in the fridge and using up leftovers.

If you need a little meal planning organization, I have to give a shoutout to Plan to Eat, an online meal planning system that allows you to plan your own recipes (as opposed to a meal planning service that sends a ready-made plan) and then populates your shopping list and your calendar.

Within PTE, there’s a KS group where there’s over 30,000 recipes, all compiled by KS readers. It’s so cool! You can search for an ingredient that you need to use up and be fairly certain you’ll find a real food approved recipe, instead of shooting in the dark on a Google search, where 90% of the recipes probably don’t fit your whole foods goals.

Let me know if you have any questions about how Plan to Eat works, or just try out the 30-day trial and see for yourself.

See you over at Green Your Way for 200 great ideas!

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon and Garbage to Gourmet from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. Plan to Eat is a sponsor of KS receiving their complementary mention in a post for this month. See my full disclosure statement here.

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1 Bite of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    That’s so cool to have the author come to your bookclub! Although maybe a little scary too … what if you didn’t like the book? It does sound like a good one though and I will have to read it. I present a very decluttered picture to the world in my living room and bedroom, but my home office is a whole other story…

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