11 WEIRD WAYS TO RECLAIM, RE-USE & UP-CYCLE IN 2020+

Single-use plastic food lids become snack trays and save on dish washing.

Supporting a Reduction in Waste During and After Coronavirus

Just 3 weeks into the COVID-19 epidemic, scientists started to notice improvements in the environment.

Waterways began clearing up, and the atmosphere started cleaning itself and healing.

It’s a positive side-effect to shacking up at home.

And it’s real proof that taking measures – however unintentional – to reduce the human impact on our planet works.

It seems a given, though, that we’ll go back to polluting the planet since our economy and commerce depend on travel and the distribution of goods and labor.

People have to work. Kids have to get to school.

Disappearing glaciers need to be studied. Cats have to get to the vet.

Currently the Earth is getting a temporary load off its shoulders.

Let’s see if we can piggy back on the impacts of the corona virus and not lose all of our environmental gains.

Being waste conscientious is not just for millennials…I’m over 50 and may have another 50 to go.

I don’t want to see the Earth shattered in my lifetime either.

Continuing a Reduced Pollution Trend

I wish I could re-imagine, reduce, reclaim, recycle and re-purpose anything and everything.

I have big ideas for turning tons of waste into huge art sculptures, but haven’t made that happen yet…fingers crossed on a revolutionary fix, and future posts.

‘Til then, here are a few weird ways to re-purpose smaller junk items, old things and even garbage that would normally get tossed after a single use.

1 – Repurposed Food Boxes

I re-use restaurant take-away boxes many times over (which often surprises and delights wait staff).

My husband and I keep 3-4 boxes in each vehicle, otherwise we’d rarely remember to bring one along.

Never put doggie boxes in the dishwasher.

2 – Food Cycler Composting

Produce scraps from veggies and fruits go into our Food Cycler, which is the quick countertop version of traditional composting.

It’s easier than throwing it in the trash.

This smart invention was mostly meant to reduce garbage in areas where people are charged by the pound.

I dry and grind egg shells, peels, small seeds, rinds, coffee grounds, tea bags, spoiled produce, etc.

It takes care of any plant waste minus pits, large seeds, and thick stems and vines.

Apparently it also works on items that normally aren’t composted, like animal by-products.

That output’s not meant for the garden, as you can guess.

Plant waste in the grinding/drying unit
Crumbly output goes in the yard
When the Food Cycler’s full and doing it’s job, a ‘single-use’ plastic tray holds waste-in-waiting.

3 – Zip-lock & Other Food Bags Re-used

It’s so easy to wash plastic zip-lock bags over and over.

It’s safe to bet I’ve re-used miles worth of plastic wraps, bags, etc., over 30 years.

It’s worth a mention because I’ve seen friends and family toss nearly-new bags.

Purmione approved

4 – Plastic Wrap Make-over

I bought re-usable plastic-wrap alternative made of waxed up-cycled fibers in a set of 4.

I made these no-bake brownies with the largest one.

Like regular plastic wrap, it’s *not* meant for the oven!

Though not technically garbage or a single-use plastic, this wrap swap reduces my household waste.

5 – Save the Cats. Poo.

What to do with plastic produce bags?

Luckily today many are compostable.

Fragile as they are, even those can have a second life.

I double-line a single-use plastic pickle container from my in-laws restaurant (Sharkey’s Pizza in Baltic, CT!) with 1 compostable and 1 plastic veggie bag.

We scoop cat waste from their boxes into a lined can.

It keeps their poo out of the toilet and therefore local groundwater.

Sending it to a transfer station isn’t great.

But we’re keeping microbes, including the toxoplasmosis parasite, out of underground water that’s eventually used by many people.

This “cat can”, previously a food container, is 8″ tall and 7″ in diameter. It holds 4-5 days worth of waste for 2 cats, and keeps that waste out of local well water.

6 – Barf Bags Nee Plastic Packaging

To scoop up cat messes, I use:

  • Paper towel and toilet paper roll packaging
  • Small gift store bags
  • Other random plastic pieces and bags that are headed for the bin

I could use a glove and paper towels but the vomit smells up the trash can in a day or two – we take out the garbage only when it’s stuffed full to reduce bag use.

Plus that plastic rarely has another use and is not recyclable.

Looks like somebunny cleaned up her own barf on the kitty tower before I could get to it. Yum.

7 – Re-use Items to Beat Bug-Eating Birds

Downy woodpeckers – “house eaters”, I call ’em – forage for bugs under the bark of our gingko tree.

So we re-purposed these old CDs to scare them off:

When looks count, keep bird deterrents attractive and consistent.

8 – More Bird Busting Re-purposing: Save the Berries

Scare berry-loving birds away from fruiting plants by stringing up these bits of garbage:

  • Forgotten toys that move, wave and spin easily, like bobble heads, spinners, and anything with wings
  • Flags, fabric scraps
  • Mardi Gras necklaces
  • CDs/DVDs
  • Empty plastic water bottles you’ve re-used already
  • Shiny metal and glass objects that clink in the breeze and sparkle in the sun, like ink-less pens and old reading glasses
  • Thick wire bits bent into odd-ball shapes
  • Helium balloons

Bolt the flags to a fence and hang everything else with metallic gift ribbon.

Last summer I re-used a mylar balloon from a party as a deterrent to berry-eating birds…it lasted for weeks and we had a monster harvest blueberry.

9 – Attracting our Feathered Friends with Upcycling

We support local birds for insect control, feeding indigenous predators like hawks and bobcats, and laughable cat TV high jinks.

Spare aluminum wire gets made into bird feeder hooks and clothes line stabilizers:

Very thick & durable wire – work on your grip strength while making these.
Our clothes-line bird feeder – we move it daily to prevent waste from killing the grass below. (Note the turkeys in the background.)

10 – Lint and TP Rolls?

Here’s a share from Family Handyman magazine.

Stuff your dryer lint into empty TP rolls to use as a fire starter in your wood stove or bonfire.

File under “works like a charm”.

We don’t use our fire pit often but these fire starters last several minutes and burn hot when trying to get a flame started.

Stone walls and fire pit during construction

11 – Hubby Snacks

If it’s ending up in the trash no matter what, why not re-imagine it’s last breaths?

Re-using a seaweed carton

Re-using single-use food containers lets me clean fewer dishes, saving on hot water/electricity.

I’m not fond of washing dishes so the time-savings is another plus.

Extending the life of single-use plastics. Keep these make-shift plates/bowls clean.

Reclaiming with Relish

It’s hard to imagine the thirty years worth of plastic and garbage I’ve saved from landfills using these methods.

It’d be great to have a grand total in pounds.

Start today to prevent miles worth of waste from clogging your transfer station over the years.

If you’re already environmentally friendly, in what weird ways to do reprocess, recover and reclaim?

Re-using a sushi box lid and a hummus container lid for a low-calorie meal (I call this ~80 kcals. In my eating plan veggies don’t count.)

Give these easy, strange and new (-ish?) tips for re-using, reducing, and recycling a chance.

You’ll probably come up with your own planet-friendly ideas as you implement mine.



If you really love to re-purpose junk items, especially electronics, check out Paul’s projects!

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