Quora, Re-use, recycle, up-purpose

Quora.com question: How many uses did you get out of an item intended for single or one-time use not including recycling or repurposing?

I’m cheap and hate to throw out something I’m going to have to turn around and buy again in another form. I reuse single-use things all the time. (Also recycle and re-purpose so some of this defies categorization.)

For hiking and camping I reuse Smartwater bottles as water bottles until they get grungy then I bleach them and keep using them, sometimes for months, until I break them, then I recycle. The threads on the top of the bottle exactly fit my water filter. And the bottles weigh significantly less than my Nalgenes. Since I’m an ultralight hiker, the difference between 2 ounces and 10 ounces adds up. I also wrap tape around 1 Smartwater bottle so I can tell by sight and feel that it is my stove-fuel bottle. (Winter hiking I pull out the Nalgenes because they can have boiling water poured into them for a hammock warmer.)

I reuse mylar potato chip bags, especially the ones with a slider on top. But even the ones without a slider can be washed, dried, refilled, and foodsavered closed again. Mylar is mylar.

Any time I find one of those single-use silica gel moisture absorbers in a new item, bottle of meds or food item, I recharge them in the solar oven, and reuse them. Indefinitely.

Ziplocks that held dry-ish things like cereal, bread or cookies can easily be washed, air dried, and reused. If you had spaghetti sauce in it, give it up, toss it and move on. I pack suitcases and backpacks with new ziplocks. Ranger roll things as small and tight as possible.

Microwave dinners that come in black plastic bowls or divided plates (or take away containers that are black plastic) can be cleaned and reused until breakage. Just need stretchy reusable covers if freezing, but they make great cereal bowls or dogfood bowls, too. If you cook once a week like I do, they come in handy for dividing out then freezing individual meals.

Any glass jar with a lid can be used to store home-grown raw honey year after year. Indefinitely.

2-liter pop bottles can be cleaned and staples stored in them — rice for instance, if you’re like me and can’t resist the giant bag at Sam’s club.

Lipton green tea comes in a great handled jug that I buy about once a quarter. Because I can rinse it and use my powdered lipton green tea mix in it. And southern gals drink a LOT of tea, let me tell ya.

Cheaply made plastic hangers that new clothes come on, I use outside on the clothes line to hang clothes on. They break eventually, but they come free with the clothes.

Also some other things…

I never recycle used motor oil (the ultimate single-use item) because it works great mixed with a handful of sand to clean and oil your garden tools at the end of a season. Ask your loppers and your shovel if they know the difference between new oil and used oil. The leftovers are an ideal burn-barrel or brush-pile fire starter — doesn’t have the volatility of gas and burns off quickly. That’s 3 solid uses for a single-use item, but it’s re-purposing, too. Oh, well.

Kitchen and garden scraps go to the dogs, the chickens, or the compost pile. In that order. Citrus and onions go directly to the compost pile.

I collect grass clippings off my push mulching mower, especially in the fall when it’s mostly leaves and pine needles, for compost. Is grass a single-purpose use item? Ha-ha. Not at my house.

My dogfood comes in a plastic bag with a slider which means trash can be slider-ed closed. Walmart plastic bags can be used as small waste-can liners and then knotted and tucked into the dogfood bag.

Catlitter buckets with lids can be washed and reused for storage. But plastic is permeable, so consider that when deciding what to put in it. A mylar insert heat-sealed in the bucket solves that problem. The bucket protects the mylar from punctures and stacks better than a loose bag.

Newspaper makes a great window cleaning “rag.” No streaks or lint.

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