Lately I’ve been mining the Mother Earth News archives for bits of relevant wisdom–which are abundant there. When the magazine got started, in 1970, I was in first grade and recycling was new and cool. (We loved those field trips to the shiny new recycling center.) In the fifth issue, September/October 1970, T.H. Hagemann offers some great recycling and reuse tips–many still relevant today. He describes these as “little ideas that anyone can start using right now to cut day to day living expenses and–over a year’s period–add a number of dollars (a penny saved is a penny earned) to the family kitty.
“Best of all,” Hagemann adds, “these ideas are ecologically sound because each one makes better, extra or extended use of an item from our insane ‘throw-away’ system.” (One has to wonder what Mr. Hagemann would have to say about that today.)
Cut it up and use the back side for notes and shopping lists.
1. Cut up Christmas and other greeting cards and keep the clear, smooth pieces in a holder in the kitchen to be used for shopping lists, notes to the milkman, etc. (OK, so all my “notes” to the milkman now happen online and most of the greeting cards I get are electronic. Hagemann also suggests doing this with junk mail, and I still get plenty of that.)
Use it again and again.
2. Wash and save glass containers from mayonnaise and other products for food storage and keeping fruit juice in the refrigerator. Tall mayonnaise jars will protect sugar, salt, flour and cereals better than their original paper or cardboard containers, and squatty jars are perfect for storing little leftovers in the refrigerator.
Save both the lid and the can for reuse. Photo by David Pursehouse/flickr
3. Use the plastic tops of coffee cans as coasters under glasses and also to keep furniture feet from digging into your rug.
4. Coffee cans with holes punched in their bottoms–and-perhaps decorated with aluminum foil–make adequate temporary flower pots.
Nearly everyone had an avocado plant in the kitchen window in the 1970s.
5. Use the seeds of foods you have eaten–apples, oranges, grapefruit, green pepper and avocado–to grow new plants. (Remember the iconic ˜70s avocado plant? Hagemann had one that was 5 feet high.)
Next: 5 more tips