Saturday, May 5, 2012

RePurposing Kitchen throw aways

The Kitchen is perhaps the most prolific place of trash coming out of our home. Often people don't know what to do with all those empty cans, bags, twist ties, plastics and bottles other than to simply toss them into recycling bins.

However, this method depends on a great deal of carbon foot-printing.

Consider this:

* If you delivery to a Recycling Center: You use your vehicle to transport the recycled materials to the site. Then that material is hauled to a facility where it may be sorts, or may be put into a larger petrolium gobbling vehicle to be hauled to a cargo ship to be shipped to another country.

* Curb side recycling: Each bin must be picked up by a recycling center vehicle which is starting and stopping numerous times along the curb to pick up the neighborhood recycled materials. Then that material is hauled to a facility where it may be sorts, or may be put into a larger petrolium gobbling vehicle to be hauled to a cargo ship to be shipped to another country.

Why not try a third option? Why not REUSE it yourself? Yes, that is possible. Many items used for one purpose can be repurposed and reused on site. Saving greatly in the carbon footprint of our neighborhoods, towns and nation.

Such recycling doesn't have to be unsightly either. Here are just a few examples of how you can repurpose Kitchen waste within the confines of your own home or property.


Do you ever try to figure out how to keep your things preserved from the sun, insects and rodents without having to buy expensive storage systems?

If you store foods in South Dakota, without using pesticides and other poisons to keep predators out. One frugal way to do this is to repurpose Popcorn tins.

You can get those large popcorn tins at rummage sales or thrift stores. Often they have whimsical winter themes or cute little bears or something on them. Not necessarily what you want on your shelves as canisters. But a 50 cent can of spray paint from the Habitat Restore can resolve that issue.

If you want you can also label the can so that you know what is stored inside. This tin system works great for bags of dried beans or even boxes of cake mix, etc that are otherwise easily penetrated by rodents. By placing bags of legumes in tins (still in their sealed bags) you also remove the sunlight which deteriorates the nutritional aspects of the legumes. Keeping them inside the bags makes it easy to have numerous different types of beans in the same large can.

Placing boxes such as cake mix into tins prevents those little moths that we have in South Dakota from being able to burrow into the cardboard and lay their eggs. These moths are small gray moths. They are known as "Pantry Moths".

Some say the moths eggs are actually already in the wheat, but I'm not sure about that. I do know that one of the safest ways to get rid of them is toss EVERYTHING that they could have gotten into. (I had them assault my pantry supply once already, so I learned). They are tiny and can get into the folds of boxes and into the boxes. So having tins prevents this from happening.

How does one know if they have pantry moths? Finding webbing in a stored food product is a sign that you have an infestation. So the tins that you and your family throw away can save you hundreds of dollars of damage. So can those old empty jars such as spaghetti sauce jars! It doesn't matter what type of lid it has, as long as it has a lid.


Commercial Meat Trays

Have you noticed how stores now sell their meat in plastic meat trays?

Simply wash the tray after removing the meat, instead of tossing the tray into your plastics bin.

These trays work wonderfully as plant watering trays. They are stout and their shape makes them ideal for placing side by side with other trays and not leaving unneccessary space on the shelves or unusable space due to the pots being rectangular nursery pots and the trays (found commercially) being round.

Here you see one of my meat trays that has been washed and is now being used under some nursery pots that I recycled. There is enough room in the tray that I could add one more pot.

The plastic of these trays is sturdier than many watering trays found commercially as well, which to me is a great bonus.


Large Plastic Jugs:

Large plastic jugs are a God-send in my opinion when it comes to frugal living! The cost of a simple scoop is outrageous and here is a scoop-to-be just sitting in our recycle bins!

The diagram below shows how to take a modify the jug so that it can become a great scoop for dog food or other feeds or other bulk items such as bulk flour storage or sugar storage bins.

Another use of large plastic jugs include repurposing them into watering containers.

Many people have used semi-clear milk jugs as Cloches for their gardens. Some of the new milk jugs that are darker so as to reduce light deterioration to the milk, no longer work effectively as cloches, but there are still plenty of alternative plastic jugs out there to use as garden cloches.

Some people repurpose their larger jugs into dispensers of other items such as Bath Salts.

Another clever idea is to use them in Halloween decorations.

Some people use old milk jugs and other large plastic jugs as container planters.

The options are endless. But what is best is the plastic jug doesn't need to be shipped to some unknown location but can be utilized by your own family by simply repurposing.


The Tin Coffee Can:

Coffee cans come in plastic or metal these days. Both have their repurposing benefits! Both are GREAT canisters-to-be or can be used in creative ways unrelated to storage of food. Here I want to focus on the multi-purpose aspect of tin coffee cans.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I use one of my metal coffee cans as a container for my recycled egg shells.

But this isn't the only thing you can do with metal coffee cans.

You can repurpose coffee cans into decorative lanterns:

Or you can take it and make a funky ceiling lamp.

Another repurposing idea is to take the coffee cans and mount them to a board in a row and make a place to store craft supplies such as yarn, fabric scraps or even spray paint cans.

Some people take the humble coffee can and repaint it as part of their repurposing effort, then mount it to a wall or fence to become a decorative planter.

Another creative RePurposing of metal cans is to make Charcoal Lighting chimney's with them.

You can even make a coffee can oven so as to make Coffee Can Bread!

Some people use tin coffee cans as chimneys as they make adobe ovens.

Another cooking stove made from a coffee can is the "Coffee can wood-gasifier stove"

Another is the Tin Can Sterno Stove.

Coffee cans also make great emergency kits for the trunk of your car. Simply take the can, prepare it to become a Tin Can Stove. Drill the necessary holes, etc. But instead of using it for recreational situations. You take the empty can, add a small candle, some water proof matches or a lighter, a small tin cup or enamelware cup (to be used for mini cook pot). Pack these items into can. Add small envelopes of ketchup, mayonnaise, honey and seals packets of crackers.

These items are not "snacks" but emergency items. While not great as a meal, these items have protein, sugars and other nutrients that could be beneficial if you were stranded for some time. Having the stove & cup allows you to melt snow and make water available to yourself until help can arrive. In summer, you should always travel with water bottles in your car, so even in the warmer seasons you should have in your travel pack, emergency supply of water.


Mylar Lined Resealable Bags

The Mylar bag has been getting a lot of attention lately within the Prepper community. This is mainly due to the mylar bags' ability to reflect light and thus protect stored items from degradation due to light.

While most preppers talk about buying mylar bags so as to store their food storage, few talk about recycling mylar that is currently coming into one's home.

You may not even realize that you have mylar bags around you in various forms. But they can be found in grocery food bags and in the form of pet food treat bags.

These recycled mylar bags work wonderfully for storing garden seeds, which was mentioned in a previous blog. Also they work great for storing food items. Even if you aren't placing the food directly in contact with the reused mylar bag, but keeping the item in its original box or bag, but merely placing that bag or box into the large mylar bag to lengthen its shelf life. Another type of "Mylar" lined item that often is tossed is the paper lined baby formula cans. These cans have a silver lining inside that works in the same manner as the mylar bags.

While the cardboard cans aren't rodent proof, they are tools to assist in reducing light penetration. I use old formula cans to hold small bottles of garden seeds.

------------------------------- Mesh Bags

These bags are often tossed by families after the produce in them is used up. However, mesh bags are a great item with many uses.

One of the simplest things you can do with mesh onion bags, for example is take and cut the label off and tie the bag into a knot in the center. Then repeat this again over the first knot until the ends of the bag are too short to tie again. This ball of mesh just became a scrubber for your kitchen!

Another option is to take a small mesh bag, after emptying it of its produce, and cut a small oval out of one side. Then take the bag (with bottom seam still intact) and hang on a hook or nail at the edge of your sink. This bag will then become a handy place to place your wet sponges. By giving them breathing space the sponges dry quicker and it reduces the chances of mildew building up in the sponge.

Another way to use the bags is to reuse them for various produce that you may want to store in your root cellar or cool pantry storage space.

There are numerous garden produce that needs air when in storage. Onions and potatoes are two of these items. Others include: beets, turnips, & garlic. Allowing air flow to produce is critical when storing and the humble mesh bag you've been throwing out can help you in that job.

Another use of the mesh bag is to provide you with a great place to store all those bath toys of your children!

Small soft material mesh bags can be used to collect thin soap bars that are getting too small to easily hold and use. Take these thin soap bars and toss them into the bag. Then use the bag as a scrubber that has its own soap supply, by simply tying off the open end.

These are just a few of the items you can repurpose.

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