10 Ways to Save Money – and Protect the Environment – by Recycling

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by Nindo Mom on January 6, 2011

Recycling can be thought of in a couple of ways:

1. Reusing items that would normally be thrown away after their intended use, and

2. Turning in items to a recycling facility that can use the materials used in the item to create another item.

The first type of recycling–where you are reusing an item in a creative way–can actually save you money WHILE you’re helping the environment. After all, if you weren’t recycling the item in question, you’d have to buy something else to fill it’s purpose, right? Here are a few examples of items you can recycle to save money:

1. Resealable plastic bags (such as ZipLock, Glad, and Hefty brands) can be used a couple of times, depending on what you used them for. I wouldn’t reuse them if they were used for meats, which expire relatively quickly and grow a lot of nasty germs. But for fresh veggies packed for lunch, olives, cheeses, nuts, or pre-prepared foods with preservatives like storebought cookies or chips, you should be safe reusing resealable bags at least once.

Reusing resealable plastic bags means fewer bags you need to buy–so for every bag recycled, you save money.

2. Aluminum foil can sometimes be reused. For example–foil used to lightly cover a pot used to boil veggies should be fine–just let it dry out to get rid of the excess moisture between uses. Foil used to cover fresh fruits for lunch can also be reused.

Reusing foil once or twice, when possible, means you won’t have to buy new foil as soon–and that means you’ve saved money.

3. Plastic wrap / cellophane can be reused to re-wrap the same bowl of leftovers until the item is ready to be discarded.

Like reusing foil, reusing plastic wrap means it’ll be longer before you have to buy more. Cha-Ching!

4. Shoe boxes can be reused to organize a myriad of odds and ends around your house, in the car, at work, etc. These boxes fit particularly well in the tops of closets, on closet floors, and under beds. You may also be able to reuse boxes belonging to various products you buy such as rice cookers, coffee pots, laptop computers, sets of dishes, etc. for packaging items for storage or in the attic.

The more you can reuse boxes, the less storage boxes you’ll need to purchase–and the more money stays in your wallet.

5. Water Bottles. Although not good to use indefinitely because they’re pretty hard to clean, disposable water bottles can be refilled with filtered water at least a couple of times–which means you can get away with buying water bottles way less often!

6. Eyeglasses. There are numerous organizations that collect used, unwanted eyeglasses, which they then refurbish, re-lens, and provide for individuals in financial need. A few organizations that will accept your eyeglass donations include the Lions Club, Goodwill Industries stores, and Lenscrafters Stores. Or, you can hold onto your old frames for yourself or other members of your family, and simply have the lenses switched out when it’s time for a new prescription.

7. Miscellaneous Unwanted Items around your home. When you donate the stuff you don’t use any more to non-profit charities like Mellwood or the Veterans Association, you are helping to support individuals in need–and you’re putting money in your pocket if you receive a tax donation certification. (Up-to-date information about income tax deductions can be found at www.irs.gov.)

8. “Recycle” clothing. This can be done in the obvious way, by passing them between your kids–or even between adult members of the family. You can also invite a group of friends to a clothing trading party–ideally, you should make an effort to invite several individuals in each of a variety of sizes.

9. Newspapers can either be recycled in the traditional way, or they can be used as packing materials for articles sent through the mail or stored in the attic. Or, instead of subscribing to the standard edition of the newspaper, you could consider switching to an online edition of the newspaper.

10. Instead of throwing out unfinished glasses of water, use them to water your household plants–or your garden, if you have one.

There are lots of ideas for recycling a variety of items, if you put your mind to it. Usually, you’ll save money in the process of helping to conserve materials, which in turn helps the environment. You can also try making a game of it–sit down with your kids one evening (or your spouse, or significant other) and take turns thinking of ways you could recycle each of the items in your house. Be creative–and then, try some of those ideas out.

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