Day 23 of 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living, where I repurpose a container instead of throwing it out to recycling.
Plenty of things we buy come in containers. Think food, health supplements, even chemicals.
What do you do with a container when you finish the contents?
The last of a large container of health supplements is used. What to do next?
While some people might still toss it in the rubbish bin, most of us would now toss it in the recycling bin.
But, is there a better way?
After all, it has taken resources and energy to make, fill and then get to you. And it will take more energy to cart it away and (perhaps) recycle the material into something else…or to be dumped in ‘landfill’.
- In this case, the container is made from plastic. That probably means it was made from fossil gas…which is methane, a powerful and quick-acting substance that damages our climate from the moment it is mined to the moment it is turned into something like plastic. (That’s because gas pipelines and fittings leak.)
- The energy used during manufacturing and filling was (currently) also probably came from a source that damages our climate and the local environment.
- Most of our transport currently uses petroleum…and when it is burnt in an engine it creates carbon dioxide, the main gas that is overheating our world and making our oceans acidic.
- ‘Landfill’ wastes resources and changes (and can damage) the local environment.
- We also know now that most plastic now lasts forever; it simply gets broken down into smaller and smaller pieces, and is even in our food chains.
Lowering our carbon footprint means we make use of the resources at hand.
It also means that our actions show how aware of all that damage that is embodied in the container. We therefore make more use of the energy and materials that have gone into making the product and avoid creating more damage.
What I did
So, with all this in mind, instead of tossing the container into recycling I re-purposed it into a container to keep bicarbonate of soda tidy and dry in my laundry. (Before that, I had been just keeping the box in the cupboard. Its contents were hard to get out, and they often ‘leaked’ out and/or went hard with moisture.)
I outlined most reasons in The Problem above.
It also saved me money, time and resources buying a new container for my bicarb soda.
I was able to take up the opportunity to personalise my container. (I like simple, minimalist-looking containers.)
Here’s what I did:
- Clean the container as necessary. In this case, all I had to do was remove the label. (Luckily, it came off pretty easily in one piece and left no residue. I wish more manufacturers would make labels that are so easy to remove.) Some containers may need washing to remove residues from inside or muck from outside.
- Label the container. I used a permanent marker for simplicity, but you could be more creative!
- Pour new contents into container. (CAUTION: Never store poisons in what are clearly old food containers. Never store food in containers that are not made of food-grade material or that have had chemicals in them.)
Voila! The finished product!
If you can’t avoid buying something in a container, how could you re-use the container?
Any change or challenge is easier if you have company along the way.
So let’s embark on this journey together.
- Read my blog every day for ideas, thoughts and experiences for living a lower carbon lifestyle, more in harmony with nature – while also adapting to the consequences of our damaged climate.
- Subscribe to get posts direct to your inbox.
- Commit to taking action yourself.
- Add a comment to let me know you’re joining in the effort to turn around our world so it can remain liveable – and what your experiences are.
- Share with others my posts and what you’re doing – our efforts, progress, experiences and challenges – on Facebook, on Twitter, in conversations with friends, on talkback radio and in letters to the editor.
A problem shared is a problem halved. We’re all affected by the changes to our world so we need to be all in on the action!
Till next time…