As many Californians are installing home solar power in order to save money and lessen their environmental impact, they are also looking for additional ways to reduce their environmental footprint. Two great ways to make an additional impact (and save or make some money) come in the areas of material reuse and recycling. I’ll start by addressing material reuse.
Reuse is critical in diverting waste from landfills. Reusing materials saves money, energy, and natural resources. Here are some reuse examples you can use at home, work, or school.
At Home: Rinse and reuse sandwich bags. Reuse water bottles as ice packs. Choose rechargeable batteries for your home electronics and remote controls. Replace paper towels and napkins with reusable/washable cloth towels and napkins. Take reusable shopping bags with you when shopping. Reuse envelopes for shopping lists, carrying coupons, and organizing receipts and expenses. Reuse newspaper for packaging, gift wrap, or for you backyard compost bin. Yogurt, peanut butter, and other jars and plastic containers can be used for storing sewing and art supplies, carrying snacks, and keeping other accessories sorted and organized. Also, donating items you no longer need or use – clothes, toys, kitchen items, etc – allows someone less fortunate than you to benefit from the reuse of these items which they otherwise might not be able to afford.
When at work or at school: Use both sides of writing paper. Use refillable in pens, tape dispensers, and pencils. Reuse any packaging polystyrene ‘peanuts’. Avoid single use plastic cups and bottles. Use scrap paper for children’s drawings and are projects. Reuse plastic and glass containers as piggy banks, pen and pencil holders, and organizers.
Now let’s cover Recycling. Many folks are confused about what items are actually recyclable. What follows is a list of acceptable items for recycling:
- Aluminum cans (do not crush)
- Aerosol cans (must be completely empty)
- Cereal boxes (remove wax paper lining)
- Clothes hangers
- Computer paper
- Envelopes (including plastic windows)
- Glass bottles and jars
- Glass cosmetic bottles
- Junk Mail
- Laundry bottles
- Ledger paper
- Paper tubes
- Phone books
- Pizza boxes
- Plastic containers #1-#17
- Plastic milk jugs
- Styrofoam Products
- Tin cans
- Tissue boxes
- Wrapping paper
- Cardboard boxes (broken down)
- Plastic children’s toys
So while the use of home solar power is a great way to save money and reduce one’s environment footprint, don’t forget to reuse and recycle the materials and packaging flowing in and out of your home everyday.