Simple Reduce – Reuse – Recycle Methods


If you are a parent, the words “Reduce – Reuse – Recycle” may conjure up the theme music of Bob, the Builder.  But, that’s not a bad thing, unless you can’t get it out of your head.

I used to enjoy watching that show with my son when he was still part of “Bob’s” demographic because very often they gave the adults sitting through it really good ideas about upcycling stuff.

If you’re looking for ways to put into action the three R’s at home, here are some ideas to get you started.


Paper Products

Egg Cartons –  Great to sort and organize small items, either in a drawer or in a storage box.  Since they are easy to cut apart, you can trim them to fit just about any space or secure more than one together to expand the storage options.

Have a year-round garden?  You’re probably always looking for containers to start seed.  Paper egg cartons are great for this since they provide excellent drainage.  Plus, since they are biodegradable, you can plant the whole “cup” once the baby plant is ready, instead of making a mess trying to transfer the soil.

Toilet Paper Rolls: Also can be used as seed starters.  Cut each roll in half. Wrap 4 or more mini-rolls together with a rubber band or bungee cord, fill with potting soil and place in a shallow container or tray.

8.5 x 11 Paper: Create notepaper pads by cutting down the used paper.  Then clip them together or stack them in a small box with a pencil for a convenient note area.

Packing Paper: Fold into long thin pieces approximately a quarter inch to an inch wide and use the strips to weave baskets. Decorate before you weave them or after to get interesting patterns and designs.

Gift Wrap and Old Magazines: Looking for something to do in the winter when all the chores are done?  Roll a thin strip of used wrapping paper or old magazines into different sizes of paper beads to use in future jewelry and craft projects.  Or, take up Quilling, the art of rolled paper.


Brown Wrapping Paper or Grocery Bags: Paper grocery bags are one of my favorite things to upcycle.  I crumple it up and then flatten it to use a background for photos and artwork.  I wrap book with it for a more decorative display on my bookcases (my HTML and CSS Coding for Dummies manual looks a lot better in brown).  I even used it to cover the top of a desk to give my office a new look.

Last year I used brown paper grocery bags and my scrapbooking stamps to create one of a kind gift boxes for Christmas gifts.  The shoe boxes I refuse to throw out came in handy for that project as well.

Newsprint:  Makes a great mulch for the garden. To use it, tear it into strips, then lay it around your plants. Have more than you need for mulching?  Toss the extra shreds on the compost pile.

Do you keep chickens or other livestock that required bedding?  Shredded paper works well.  Then, when its time to lay down fresh, you have extra fortified mulch/fertilizer for your garden beds.

Scrap Paper: Any other paper you can’t immediately find a use for can be stored in a plastic bag to keep moisture out and used when packing and shipping an item, or just storing something fragile away. It’s also good for kindling if you have a fireplace.  Just steer clear of shiny paper, they contain additives that smoke very badly and release toxins into the air.



Plastic Shopping Bags: This seemingly never-ending supply can be repurposed.  Use them a stuffing for plush items and pillows, braid them into rope for a variety of activities or crochet them into reusable bags.

Plastic Bottles: Thanks to all the creatives out there, more and more ways of using plastic bottles are popping up every day.  From self-watering planters to chandeliers it appears that only your imagination is the limit when it comes to reusing them. For some fun idea, check out this post by



Glass containers can be used indefinitely.  They can even help you reduce the number of plastic containers you end up with.  Try buying as many things in bulk and using your glass jars and bottles for storage.


I hope at least one of these methods caught your attention and can be put to use immediately.  As always, leaving as little footprint on the earth is desired, so reduce – reuse – recycle.

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