We are exposed to plastic items everywhere, these plastic items can take years to biodegrade, depending on the type of plastic. So what are some items around our house that may have multiple uses?
The one main problem with reusing plastic items is knowing whether or not they are safe. PET #1 plastics, which are the most common (water bottles, peanut butter jars, etc.), have some mixed reviews about whether or not they can be reused. So if you do reuse these for food storage, be sure to never expose them to heat as they can break down and transmit chemicals into your food. Therefore, any plastic container that seems thinner, softer or more amendable, be aware that the chemical compounds are not as strong and break down easily. These types of plastics are good for recycling, but may not be particularly good for reusing, well, depending on what you reuse it for.
If you would like to reuse your water or soda bottle, you can make a flowerpot, bird feeder or a drip watering system. Instructables.com has more awesome ideas as well, including lamps, piggy banks, flower decorations, tool belts and much more. Get your kids involved and have them create these items out of the plastic bottles you acquire. It will allow them to be creative and understand a different level of recycling.
Any good size plastic container that used to store food products is great for storing leftovers. Tupperware containers are a huge hit in households, but why buy them when you can get them for free? Containers from dips, peanut butter jars, yogurt cups, baby food containers, etc. all have the potential to be made into food storage containers for other items. Any big container can easily be used as a storage device for nonfood items too, such as sponges, baby bottle nipples and wrapped candy.
Plastic bags have multiple uses too. Grocery store bags can be reused by taking them back to the grocery store to reuse, they can line your bathroom trashcans or be made into creative art. There are craft ideas like making a basket out of weaved plastic bags or creating a fun kite using a bag, string, tape and sticks. Additionally, you can also keep bread and produce bags for when it is time to clean up after your pet. Another good use is as a sink stopper. Some people may not have a good plug for their sink, so just shove a plastic bag in there to hold the water while you do dishes, clean your hand wash-only clothes, etc.
Milk jugs or water jugs can be put to good use by either refilling with water to keep cool in the refrigerator or making a watering can out of them. Just poke a bunch of little holds in the cap to produce a slow flow of water for your plants, or poke a hole in the upper side of the jug and glue a 2-3” piece of PVC (vinyl) tubing or hose in the hole. You can also get your kids to decorate it and let them know how making one would be a great Mother’s Day present.
There are plenty of creative ways to reuse plastic containers that can get your children involved too. Encourage them to be innovators and make things out of items that would otherwise be considered trash. It will teach them how to be resourceful and eco-friendly, while using their imagination. It is never too early to teach our kids about sustainability and inspire them to think outside of the box. Making crafts and useable items from recyclables will save you money and save the planet from another plastic item either being made or thrown into a landfill.
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Stephanie Siemek is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.