When you say you’re recycling, chances are you’re just reusing plastic packaging at home. They’re probably piled up inside the cabinet under the kitchen sink. While that’s a good way to recycle, it’s not enough to reduce your carbon footprint dramatically. To make a more significant change, you should realize that you can recycle more things besides plastic.
And you can find most of them at home. Below are the household items you can recycle and upcycle.
1. Carton Packaging
Since carton is biodegradable, we don’t feel guilty when we throw them away. But even if they decompose, they still overflow our landfills and thus result in greater waste generation. Instead of discarding your cartons, consider reusing them as planters, or fill them up with water for freezing. They can make you ice blocks for your cooler if you’d rather not run your A/C.
2. Empty Roll-on Deodorant Bottles
Your used-up deodorant bottles don’t have to end up in the trash or pile up uselessly in your medicine cabinet. Wash the bottle and the ball thoroughly, then fill the bottle with paint. You or your kids can have fun making roll-on paintings.
3. Food Scraps and Leftovers
While it’s not unsafe to throw away food, it’s wasteful and teaches kids the wrong message. Instead of taking your leftovers straight to the food waste disposer, consider making them garden fertilizers or mulch. If it won’t be a bother, consider creating a worm farm as well, and feed your food scraps to the worms. Worm waste, a.k.a. castings, are also natural fertilizers.
4. Junk Mail
If you still receive paper mail, keep the envelopes and use them to store seedlings or tiny screws. You can shred the mail, but don’t throw them away yet. They can also act as garden mulch.
5. Old Cellphones
You probably already know that the medals used in the 2020 Olympics Games were made from old electronics, including cellphones. So if you have an unused phone lying around somewhere, see if there are recycling companies accepting it. If they’re still in good working order, you can also resell it on eBay. Just don’t toss it in the bin, because its lithium battery can be a fire hazard.
6. Car Parts
If you’re about to buy car floor mats online, keep the old ones and reuse them for other spaces, like your shed. You can also sell them to a junkyard operator. Mats are one of the most recycled car parts.
Tires, wheels, batteries, iron, windshield glass, and transmissions are recyclable too. Your entire car is basically recyclable. So if you’re changing some of its parts, be sure to keep the old ones because they haven’t become any less useful.
Things You Can Upcycle
Upcycling is similar to reusing, with some modifications involved. It transforms an old item into a new one, and it can either retain or change its function. Below are the things that commonly get upcycled:
1. Old Furniture
You don’t need to buy new furniture to modernize your abode. By simply repainting your existing and dated furniture pieces, they can adopt a fresh new look, you wouldn’t even guess they’re old. Taking down old kitchen cabinets and reusing the parts as decorations are brilliant methods of upcycling, too. The key is to avoid throwing anything away and revamping them instead.
2. Laundry Waste
You can reuse old dryer sheets as dusting rugs. They’ll effectively remove pet hair. They work in scrubbing off soap scum and polishing chrome, too. If you’d like to challenge yourself, try turning it into a dress. Upcycling is in fact becoming popular in fashion, and it may be the key to reducing the excessive energy consumed during the production of textile.
3. Broken China
Kintsugi, the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together, can also work on ordinary china. The fixed china can look good as table ornaments. The old china pieces in your cupboard without any real purpose can also be reused; smash them, then use the broken pieces as tiles. If that’s too dangerous for you, consider reusing them (without breaking them) as catch-all trays or planters.
Recycling vs Upcycling
If you look at the two procedures, they seem no different at all. But in recycling, the materials are usually broken down and remanufactured into a new product. Upcycling, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily do that. It just changes the look and sometimes, the function of a product.
While recycling has been proven beneficial for the environment, upcycling’s benefits are still in theory. But if you consider that it helps reduce waste, it will certainly help decrease your carbon footprint, too. Hence, get into the habit of upcycling and increasing your recycling methods. They’ll pay off with greater results than simply collecting plastic.