Take A Look Before You Throw It Out (Wealth Tip #33)

We love recycling.  It’s good for the planet, good for you and economical.  The only down side is that poor recycling or just keeping hold of everything can lead to clutter.  So we would advise you to be smart about it and learn what you can use for what purpose.

To do this, begin by just taking a look at things before you throw them out.  You’d be amazed at what you can use things for when you put your mind to it.  Now, once again, get out of the mindset of thinking you’re cheap because you’re re-using junk.  If it’s really fit for the purpose you have in mind for it then it’s not junk, is it?

Maybe it would be better to explain with a few examples:

  1. Small plastic bags – we have a dog and when these are relatively clean they can be useful as doggy poop bags.  Note: the bags we otherwise use are bio-degradable which is obviously better but as these are being re-used anyway then provided we dispose of them in the right place (i.e. the designated doggy poop bins) then they can be useful to supplement our stock of these bags as spares.  Side note: check your local library, they may give you these bags for free – ours does.
  2. Bottles – various bottles can be re-used – particularly small water bottles.  We use the Evian water bottles in place of the more expensive water bottles you get for bikes.  They generally fit in the bottle holders, are easy to keep clean (we find the others harder to keep really clean for long periods) and worst case, if you lose it it was only a re-used evian bottle anyway!!  There are lots of bottles which can be re-used, we’re also quite fond of a traditional bottle with a nice ‘stopper’ which originally had pink lemonade in it – we now use it as a nice water bottle on our dining table.
  3. Small containers – Again, there are many examples here.  You can pay a lot of good money buying the right sized container for the right job – especially when it comes to men storing things in their sheds! I re-use lots of small containers for this purpose and have found three in particular to be useful: 1 – A particular type or soup pot which has a re-sealable lid, I use for storing small DIY bits & pieces such as raw plugs, dominoes (electrics kind, not those you play with), fuses etc (one pot for each purpose – they’re in a neat row all along a shelf in my garage making it easy to find these things and carry them around when they’re needed, 2 – The small ‘Ferrero Rocher’ boxes are useful for a similar purpose & I use these particularly because they fit perfectly into a certain space I have in the garage, 3 – the long plastic tubes which previously contained vitamin C tablets are useful for storing a few drill-bits which I keep in my handy toolbox saving me from opening the bigger case of drill-bits in case I want to do a job very quickly.  OK, ok so I’ve focused on DIY here, but if you have a look there are lots of small containers that you get your consumables in which themselves are well made and could easily be used for a multitude of purposes without throwing them out – needles for sewing, cards, small children’s toys, pens & pencils…
  4. Fuel – we have a multi-fuel stove in our little cottage and whilst the main fuels remain coal and seasoned wood, these can be supplemented with anything suitable for burning – other bits of wood we don’t need any more, paper, cardboard – this is more to cut down on the amount we throw in our bin rather than paper and cardboard being particularly good fuels (which if you put them straight in the fire, they’re not) – unless of course they ‘mulched’ put through a wet log maker and re-dried to make compact ‘logs’ which also aren’t bad to supplement your main fuels (though we’re not going that far ourselves at the moment)
  5. Clothes – e.g. laces from shoes, can often be re-used in a very practical way, think cloths for cleaning, see this article if you’re feeling artistic, leather can be very useful, e.g. to make pads to protect furniture.
  6. This list could go on and on but I think you get the idea…

Finally, when you get it right, re-using things for an absolutely appropriate purpose can be a real pleasure, you’re cutting down on the amount you throw out so your refuse is much lighter, you’re buying less, helping your pocket a little and helping the environment a lot…

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