Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Posted on 19. Feb, 2012 by in Organize

recycling . going green . garden . reducing clutter . organizing paper
menu planning . teach kids . junk . spring cleaning . packing

tips on recycling

  • the good news is that in the U.S. we are recycling 32% of our waste, compared to 5% in 1970; it’s mostly plastic pop bottles, aluminum cans, and major appliances.
  • many schools have recycling containers for papers and magazines to raise money, and be a convenient way to proper dispose of household paper.
  • shop smart by purchasing products made with “post consumer recycled” materials.
  • for reuse you can donate clothes, household goods, toys, furniture and cars to AmVets, Kidney Foundation, and Volunteers of America.
  • passing along furniture (antiques or not) is a great way to keep large items out of our landfills.
  • find uses for handy storage items — such as glass baby food jars (for pins, buttons, etc) or glass baby bottles (for paintbrushes, pens, pencils).
  • e-waste, or electronic waste is becoming more of a problem but good news is that many manufactures are participating in a “take-back” program (; Verizon collects used phones and batteries for Battered Women’s shelters.  read more …

tips on going green

  • follow these tips for saving gasoline – check tire pressure, slow down to between 55-65, turn off engine when waiting for longer than 1 minute, keep up car maintenance.
  • appliances over 10 years old take up significantly more energy — refrigerators today use half the energy,  top loading washers save 50% of the cost of water/electric, dishwashers 25% more efficient.
  • when purchasing appliances — buy the right size, look for energy star logo, read the energy guide label, for dishwashers look for circulation fans rather than heat-dried coils.
  • for parties consider using real tableware not paper plates, cups, and paper napkins.
  • unplug things that glow (tvs. chargers, printers, etc).  also please unplug the toaster and hair dryers — they are fire hazards!
  • support local farmers (saves on transportation costs & fossil fuels).
  • fix leaky faucets and toilets (many states are anticipating water shortages in the future).
  • try earth enzymes drain opener ( for a non-chemical method to fix clogs.
  • do full loads in the dishwasher, washer, and dryer — didn’t our moms teach us this!
  • switch to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), they convert most of the energy they use into light instead of heat.

tips in the garden

  • the methods to reduce weeds is still the good old fashion “dig-out” way.
  • mulching helps reduce weeds too; you can use white vinegar, herbicidal soaps, or round-up sparingly.
  • mowing often helps prevent weeds from seeding and spreading. (of course we need to balance this with the fact that longer grass, a healthy 2.5 inches, needs less water).
  • catching and retaining rainwater helps from wasting water used to water plants; if you do water with the sprinkler, don’t over water, the run off is a waste of valuable water.
  • install solar lights along sidewalks and pathways.
  • now they are making outdoor rugs from recycled plastic bottles, see also mulch, here’s one I found PermaLife.
  • soaker hoses are recommended over sprinklers (release water into ground without evaporation).
  • keep a basket in the garage filled with gloves, common tools, and a knee pad for those quick trips out to the garden or flower bed.
  • for more about pest control, visit

tips on reducing clutter

  • find a home for everything in your house – it makes things easier to find and that saves time.
  • find 30 minutes (seriously set a timer!) and organize one thing — it may be a hall closet, kitchen junk drawer, kids clothes, your shoes.
  • sort the mail (right when you bring it into the house) into to-do, file, and read stacks.
  • check the medicine cabinets for out of date medicines and ointments.
  • organize sheets sets by tying together with a ribbon, keeps hall closets more organized and saves time when changing sheets.
  • re-purpose desk organizers and ice cube trays for small bathroom items such as cotton balls, jewelry.
  • use shoebox lids and boxes that your checks come in or spray can lids for organizing small items in vanity and desk drawers.
  • store those plastic grocery bags in empty tissue boxes.
  • have a coat rack handy in the front hallway for guests to hang coats as they come into your home. (clean out your coat closet and donate coats as the kids grow each year).
  • find plastic containers for under bathroom counters for everyday items, makes cleaning quicker to pop those container back under the sink.
  • a handy item to have is a charging station, placed in the office or kitchen. with one power strip inside, you can turn off when not in use.

tips on organizing paper clutter

  • tax receipts and your tax papers needs to be kept for several years; place in a folder clearly marked.
  • manuals for items that you buy, for example appliances, are now on-line, you can search for the item on the internet and get up-to-date
  • information; toss the manuals.
  • make sure you have your registration and proof of insurance in the car glove compartments.
  • use an old wine rack to store magazines, then get in the habit of tossing a magazine when you get a new one.
  • have a old shoe box marked “shred” in the office for NBC4 Shred-It Day in the spring and fall.
  • purchase a small fireproof safe for important papers in your home — such as passports, birth certificates, auto titles.  you do not need to keep insurance policies, just record their number and your agent’s information.
  • make a copy of your wallet by laying out the credit cards, driver license, proof car insurance, and medical cards on the copier, flip over and copy the other sides with the phone numbers to call and cancel.  place this in the fire proof safe too.
  • send a post card (one for each household member) and have your name removed from over 3600 junk mail distributors, see and for details.

tips on menu planning / grocery lists

  • make mealtime more enjoyable by sorting groceries in the pantry into categories — everyday staples, baking, sauces, fruits and vegetables etc.
  • many stores such as Giant Eagle and Kroger’s have on-line inventory sheets and coupons you can place on your rewards card.
  • Peter Walsh has an excellent menu planner worksheet so you only buy what you need for the upcoming week.
  • many websites offer recipes on-line; many of them you can add your favorite recipes too.

tips to teach your kids

  • teach your kids how to sort — school papers, clothes, toys.
  • make cleaning fun, a family event, everyone tackle one chore — bathrooms, kitchen, laundry, floors.
  • they can help with laundry — depending on the age of your child they can bring their basket to the laundry room, help fold/hang clean items, and/or take the clothes back their rooms.
  • when the kids were smaller I learned to have a different style of sock for each kid — made matching and sorting easier.
  • when old enough to have homework, it’s a great idea to have a desk in their bedroom for their special space.  have a file drawer or purchase a folder bin for them to organize their school and important papers.
  • place a bulletin board or magnetic paint square in their room for them to keep track of important schedules and reminders.
  • for large art projects (on poster board, etc), take a picture of your child with their work of art — put the picture in their scrapbook, later recycle the project.
  • we have the family calendar on Yahoo and they can add their events and reference the printed copy in the kitchen.

tips on getting rid of junk

  • 1-800-got-junk is a great service, for about $200 they will haul away a truck load of your junk for you.
  • having a garage sale is an excellent way to recycle useful items that you no longer have a need for.
  • college students are always in need of blankets, couches, beds/mattresses, dish sets, kitchen gadgets.

tips for spring cleaning

  • Borax is a bleach like cleaner used to natural laundry booster, multipurpose cleaner, fungicide, preservative, insecticide, herbicide, and disinfectant.
  • Olive Oil can be used with vinegar to shine wood furniture.
  • Club Soda can be used to clean windows and shine fixtures.
  • Baking Soda removes odors, can be used to scour tough stains, pour a cup down a clogged drain with 3 cups of boiling water (can be followed with vinegar for tougher clogs) also great for cleaning stove tops.
  • Vinegar is ideal for cleaning hardware floors, wipe down grease, take away soap build up, and deodorize (try setting a bowl in the microwave to absorb odors), do not use on ceramic floors (it eats the grout!).  You can also launder the vinyl shower curtain with vinegar and regular detergent and a couple towels.
  • Rubbing alcohol and water (50/50) is great for cleaning glass, chrome, and stainless steel appliances, bathroom mirrors too (but spray on cleaning rag, not the mirror).
  • Orange Guard, available at, is recommended as an environmentally friendly insect repellent, see their website for more details.
  • Lemon oil or Avon’s Original Bath Oil is good for cleaning wood cabinets and glass shower doors (wash off oil with soapy sponge).
  • Tang, yes the breakfast drink Tang, is great for cleaning the toilets (let sit, then brush).
  • For pet stains, I’m using Nature’s Miracle Orange-Oxy Power, works and smells great for cleaning up after our new puppy!
  • When shopping for cleaning products, you want to make sure they products are all free of phosphates, biodegradable and safe for you to breathe.
  • More tips for green solutions can be found at

tips on packing for a trip

  • color coordinate your clothes (pick out colors that go together so that short sleeve, long sleeve, pants, shorts all go together.
  • select wrinkle free clothes.
  • limit shoes, really think about the type of shoes you will need (also pack in the bottom of your suitcase).
  • take the time to make or purchase small travel toiletries, it saves space in your bag.
  • find a carry-on with convenient pockets for your ticket and id thru the airport.
  • once you have arrived, unpack by hanging your clothes (I hang the shirt, pants, jacket all on one plastic hanger when I pack), put out the bathroom supplies, plug in chargers and laptop power cord.
  • when you get back home, empty suitcase right away, place dirty clothes in the laundry room, unpack bath items, put chargers and power cords where they go, pop the suitcase back in the closet out of the way.

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