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Reuse & repurpose

Reuse &amp; repurpose Discussion </> Embed Share Join Now 376

Reuse & repurpose

Moderated by I2I Admin
This is an open discussion forum associated with the International Student Carbon Footprint Challenge (ISCFC).

It’s very tempting to throw things away or even drop them in a recycling bin when we are done with them. Is there a better way?

Share your ideas for extending the “lives” of the items that we buy and use, and their packaging as well!
 
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Discussions Discussion Reuse & repurpose
Adriana V-USA, Oct. 9, 2013

Usually, at grocery stores, we have the choice between paper and plastic bags. I know my mother always chooses paper and sometimes I wonder exactly WHY. To me, I always wanted the plastic bags so I could use them as trash bags at home, but later on, I began to realize why my mother kept choosing the paper bags. At home, we use paper bags to bag our newspapers to recycle them later. Paper bags are also sturdy and if you don’t rip or damage it, they’re perfectly reusable.

Here are some other great ideas on how to reuse paper bags.

http://voices.yahoo.com/15-uses-brown-paper-grocery-bags-24088.html?cat=46
Adriana V-USA
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Rachel P-US, Oct. 9, 2013

I highly commend Great Britain for starting to charge people for plastic bags. Some people say that plastic bags take 500 YEARS to break down. That means that our great-grandchildren could be dead, and the plastic bag from the take-out you ate yesterday night could still be around!

Great Britain is charging people five pence to use plastic bags. While that may not seem much, that will add up over time. When this program was implemented in Wales in 2011, the use of plastic bags dropped 75%

Imagine how great this program would be all over the world! This could make a huge difference in the trash that is left behind on this planet.

If you would like to learn more about the program in Great Britain, you can click on the links below.

http://phys.org/news/2013-09-5p-plastic-bags-england.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24088523

Rachel P-US
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Maggie OUSA, Oct. 9, 2013

I found this informative video comparing different kinds of light bulbs! I found especially interesting the comparison between CFLs and LEDs. The LED light bulb uses cooling elements all along the outside which keeps the LED bulb cool. The LED bulb is pulling 5 watts. Whereas the CFL bulb is pulling 15. This makes the LED three times more efficient than the CFL, while still remaining cool. Its seems like a win win situation for the LED lights which will help lower you carbon footprint. The only downside is the LED lights are more typically more expensive than CFLs

http://youtu.be/pv-mr3VLW34
Maggie OUSA
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Alexandra G-USA, Oct. 9, 2013

When my family and I go grocery shopping, we also get the plastic bags. I’ve noticed other people at the store with their personal recycling shopping bags. Using recycling bags helps reduce the waste of the plastic bags. Most people after purchasing their grocery items and putting their items in the pantry, throw the plastic bags into the trash. They do not see the importance of this simple bag. As useless as the bag may look, it DOES have many uses. My family and I use plastic bags and place them in our trash cans. This is so when we take our trash out, we merely have to take the plastic bag out, and tie a knot on it to keep the trash from spilling out. This also prevents our trash cans from becoming very dirty. Another way we can use plastic bags is by using it to place our clothes or shoes in when we go somewhere. When I was in middle school, for P. E I would place my muddy tennis shoes into the plastic bag and place the plastic bag into my duffel bag. This kept my clothes from becoming dirty. Plastic bags have many uses, it all depends on how or if we want to use them though.

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20310499,00.html
Alexandra G-USA
Comments (6)
  • Laura H-U.S.A Laura H-U.S.A Oct. 9, 2013
    Hi Alex! I think all ways you used plastic bags is really cool. I will definitely try putting my field hockey cleats in a plastic bag next time. I think I'll keep a plastic bag in my trash can too. I also use my plastic bags outside the house. Whenever I walk my dog I bring a plastic bag in case he poops. I also use plastic bags to clean my cat's litter box. Sometimes I use paper bags. I use paper bags as bedding for my guinea pig. Paper or plastic bags are great for storing clothes in the closet. Thanks for all the great ideas!
  • Isabella J-USA Isabella J-USA Oct. 9, 2013
    I agree with Ryan, this is a very good point that you have brought up, I agree that there are many uses for plastic bags, and I think that the way that your family used plastic bags to be a great way to reuse them. Even so, I still believe that not using plastic bags is the best option. In my opinion, paper bags are a better option, because they are recyclable, and also have many uses as well, I re use paper bags from the grocery store when I make cookies. But I still think that the best option is to use reusable cloth bags. Were I live, the city has outlawed plastic bags, and on top of that charges a fee for paper bags, which is meant to encourage the use of reusable bags.
  • Adriana V-USA Adriana V-USA Oct. 9, 2013
    I agree! My family actually does use some of the ideas that you've listed already and I'll take the others into account. Plastic bags have so many uses yet a lot of people don't realize it Tossing plastic bags is a mistake because they have so many uses. My family literally keeps a stash of grocery plastic bags under our sink and there's about 200 of them there. I, myself, keep quite a few plastic bags around my room for the trash and things like that. You've brought up great ideas!
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Brittany Danahey, Oct. 9, 2013

From doing the footprint calculator i found that my personal footprint is more in the categories of home and food, than my regions. I can believe this we do use a lot of lights and electricity at home and we do not reuse or recycle any of our food containers. We have taken plastic bags back to grocery store, but living in an apartment that does not offer recycling makes it difficult for my household to recycle any. I think it would be a nice thing for me to ask the apartment management about having a recycling program. :)

Brittany Danahey
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Sofia M- United States, Oct. 9, 2013

Bringing water bottles can help reduce your waste. At my school, we have places where you can fill up your water bottle during the day, and this is very helpful. he United States is the world’s leading consumer of bottled water. In 2006, bottled water consumption in the US reached a 8.3 billion gallons. The total amount spent on bottled water by American people was over $11 billion. So, not only is using plastic water bottles bad for the environment, it is also adds to your expenses. Also, transporting the shipments of water bottles uses fossil fuels, which can potentially be avoided. Also, on average, one person uses 166 disposable plastic water bottles each year. If everyone in New York City were to use reusable bottles for one whole year, 1.328 billion bottles would be saved!!! If they were to use reusable bottles for one month, then 1.328 billion bottles would saved. Even if the entire city only used reusable bottles for a month, twenty-four million bottles would be saved!! This is still a large number, and would put a dent in the national average.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/155405-facts-about-reusable-water-bottles/
Sofia M- United States
Comments (2)
  • Alexandra G-USA Alexandra G-USA Oct. 9, 2013
    Yes. This is a really good idea. More schools and public areas should have those streams of water that fill your water bottle. At our school it shows the number of plastic water bottles we have saved by using our own water bottles. The number of water bottles that have been saved are in the 10,000 I believe. It is amazing how the simple water stream machines saves so much.
  • Victoria L- USA Victoria L- USA Oct. 10, 2013
    Yes, this is a good idea! If everyone reused their manufactured items, an average 4-8 pounds of CO2 for every pound of manufactured product could be saved! And counting all the pounds and all the people, a very significant amount of carbon dioxide could be reduced!

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Nicole L-USA, Oct. 8, 2013

I found that the smallest part of my carbon emission came from purchases. My family shops once a week, but we don’t reuse our plastic bags or bring our own to use. On the other hand, we DO bring back the bags to be recycled at the store and we keep some for later use. Is it possible that this could have the same effect on carbon emissions as using personal bags would? I did some research and this is what I came up with:

-Over 90% of consumers reuse plastic grocery bags at home. I, for one, use them for lunch bags during field trips or as something to hold wet or dirty clothes from maybe a campout or a swim party.
-A majority of grocers and retailers offer programs that collect plastic bags. Shoppers can return their bags usually near the front entrance or near checkout areas. For my family, any grocery bags that we do not keep we recycle there. To find out if there’s a store that participates near you, check out this website: http://www.plasticbagrecycling.org/01.0/

I’m sure there’s more information on this topic out there, and I’m curious enough to maybe do further investigations on this topic at a later time. If you follow the link at the bottom, the website can also give you tips on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle regarding plastic bags if you wish to reduce your carbon footprint in the purchases category.

http://www.plasticbagfacts.org/Main-Menu/Reduce-Reuse-Recycle/
Nicole L-USA
Comments (2)
  • Lauren H - USA Lauren H - USA Oct. 8, 2013
    I think that reusing old grocery bags has the same effect as bringing your own reusable ones,because, in the end, you are using your grocery bags more than once. You are just using them in a different time, place, and in a different way.

    I too reuse plastic and paper bags at home. I use them a lot for dirty shoes, old garbage that I have to take out but I don't want to touch, or for wet swimsuits, like you. We also use paper bags at home for our indoor garbage bag, rather than using big plastic Hefty or Glad trash bags. My grocery store also recycles plastic bags, and my family actively participates in this project.
  • Brittany Danahey Brittany Danahey Oct. 9, 2013
    I too reuse some of my grocery store plastic bags. We use them for trash collection in bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitty litter. We try to take what we do not use back to the grocery store for recycling, but usually forget, which leads to the piles of plastic bags sitting in our laundry room waiting to be taken to recycling spot.

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Zehra J-USA, Oct. 8, 2013

I was looking and my carbon footprint and noticed that the category that was the second highest in terms of carbon emissions was the one about habits at home. Although it was below the American average, I think it’s still important to find new ways to reduce carbon emissions. I noticed that my family does not recycle very often. Although we do have a recycle bin, it’s not used any where near as often as the garbage bin is used. I know that recycling will help somewhat reduce my carbon footprint, but I want to try and go beyond that. Reusing items is actually more efficient than recycling. According to the EPA, the three R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle) actually hold ranks in terms of importance. Reduce and reuse are the most efficient ways to help the environment. My family does reuse some things. For example, we keep all plastic grocery bags to keep for later use. But I know that there are plenty of other things we could do.

Upcycling is a great way to reuse things. To upcycle something is to make productive use out of otherwise useless or discarded items. There are some great websites out there, such as Pinterest, that have great ideas about “Do It Yourself” upcycling.

Many people have old boxes, packaging or other items that seem useless but can actually turn out to be pretty handy if upcycled or reused. Finding a way to reuse items is so much more beneficial to the environment as opposed to just recycling them.

http://www.evolverecycling.com/reuse-vs-recycle.aspx
Zehra J-USA
Comments (1)
  • Maggie OUSA Maggie OUSA Oct. 9, 2013
    Hi Zehra my name is Maggie. I really liked how you showed the three different R's hold different ranks in importance. You mentioned that that you have a recycling bin but don't use it that often. I think cities should reward their citizens for lowering the cities carbon footprint and making the world cleaner by recycling. This could help give people the initiative to recycle more often.

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Maggie OUSA, Oct. 7, 2013

Hi my name is Maggie and I live in Texas. After doing my carbon footprint calendar I found that most of the light bulbs in my home are incandescent. I decided to switch the incandescent light bulbs out for CFL’s. Also, I will be more aware of when I leave rooms in my home and make sure I turn the lights out behind me.
I also will attach timers to the lights in my bedroom and living room, the lights that I use the most, to make sure I don’t use them more than the necessary amount of time.

Maggie OUSA
Comments (4)
  • Sofia M- United States Sofia M- United States Oct. 8, 2013
    I can relate to this because I didn't realize how much my lighting habits effected my carbon footprint until I calculated it in class a few days ago. Just like Lauren said, I didn't realize how many incandescent bulbs I have in my house. Also, I often leave all the lights on in my house, even in rooms that I am not in. Calculating my carbon footprint really allowed me to see the effects of this for the first time, and I was so surprised because my carbon footprint was significantly higher than my state's average! Thanks for the idea about the timers, that is a great idea that I am going to put into use! This is especially helpful because so many times I forget that I have left the lights on. Lauren's idea about the sensors on the light switches is a good idea too! I found a helpful website comparing different light bulbs and their impact on the environment. http://homeguides.sfgate.com/energyefficient-bulbs-halogen-vs-fluorescent-vs-incandescent-78832.html I also found another helpful website that expresses the impact of light lighting habits on the average carbon footprints. http://www.carbonfootprint.com/lightbulbs.html
  • Laura H-U.S.A Laura H-U.S.A Oct. 9, 2013
    This is a great idea! I understand how hard it is to simply turn the lights off. You are right changing your light-bulbs can really make a difference in your carbon footprint. Like everyone else I don't notice if I leave the lights on when I leave the room. I also think your timer idea is really good too. I think I will try to change my light-bulbs to CFL's to reduce my carbon footprint. If you want to reduce your footprint you can do something as simple as leaving your window open during the summer or using an extra blanket in the winter
  • Taylor G-USA Taylor G-USA Oct. 10, 2013
    Great idea! I also calculated my carbon footprint and also the amount of incandescent bulbs I had in my house, which is all of the light bulbs. It is a really smart idea to put a timer on your lights. At night I usually forget to turn off the lights in the rooms of my house and I am waiting energy. If I had a timer it would help immensely.
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Rebecca C-USA, Oct. 7, 2013

Looking at my carbon footprint, I’ve determined that the smallest part of it comes from purchases.

One reason is that my family and I use reusable shopping bags when we buy groceries. We bring them into stores the majority of the time we go shopping and have been doing this for about a year now. In an earlier post, I read that you can save about 300 plastic bags in a year, so this is definitely a reason for the low amount of carbon I have from purchases.

Another reason may be that many of my clothes are hand-me-downs. I know most people like buying their own clothes and would never consider wearing something that once belonged to another person, but the manufacturing of just one sweatshirt or polo shirt can take about 3 kilograms of carbon. By taking just 5 hand-me-downs a year instead of shopping for brand-new clothes, you can save about 15 kilograms of carbon a year. The more you reuse clothes, the more carbon you can save. Even if you don’t want to wear old clothes, at least donate them or hand them down to others so that they can reduce their use of carbon. Also, another way to purchase less clothing is to swap with your friends; this way, you’ll all be wearing new clothes, and you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

http://www.co2list.org/files/carbon.htm
Rebecca C-USA
Comments (4)
  • Kelsey D - USA Kelsey D - USA Oct. 9, 2013
    Hi Rebecca, I'm Kelsey. I agree that using reusable grocery bags can have a big impact on our carbon footprint. I have a couple of reusable bags, but I usually buy more groceries that can fit in my bags. To reduce my carbon footprint, I bought some new bags so I can fit all of my groceries in them. I also love your clothes idea! Since I don't have any older siblings I don't get any hand-me-downs, but I always give away my old clothes to people in need or my little sister.
  • Mary G-USA Mary G-USA Oct. 9, 2013
    Rebecca, I think those are really good ideas and they really can make a difference. While my family doesn't reuse grocery bags, we turn them into stores that collect them to be recycled.

    Skyler, you don't necessarily need a sibling for hand me downs. You can get clothes from an older relative. When I grow out my clothes my mom gives them to my cousins.

    Kelsey, I think that's a great idea! You can also reuse grocery bags by packing lunch in them for trips or holding wet clothes after a swim.
  • Nicole L-USA Nicole L-USA Oct. 9, 2013
    Though it wasn’t my smallest category, the purchases category was one of my smallest ones. Most of my clothes are hand-me-downs as well, and I agree that that probably contributed greatly in lowering our carbon footprints for that category. Then the cycle continues because I give my old clothes to a family friend or something of the like, which, in turn, can help that family lower their carbon footprint.
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