Reduce, Reuse

Ok, these two are pretty obvious. Don’t buy it if you don’t need it. If you’re done with it, find someone else who might want it.

That works for the big stuff. But what about all of that landfill trash generated by the daily things? Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest letting your used tissues compost (ew, yuck!) In fact, I don’t keep a compost pile at all. No doubt, my neighbor on the side most likely to hold such a spot is pleased with my decision.

We have surprised a number of guests over the years with two decisions. We rarely use paper towels or paper napkins. Towels are the cotton variety bought a dozen at a time. A fresh one comes out every day and is tossed in the laundry room hamper when finished. Napkins are stored folded in two drawers at either end of the kitchen table. They spend time in the hamper, too. Once a week the whole pile is washed and made ready. (True confession: sometimes they don’t exactly get refolded! But they’re clean when it’s time to be used again.) The spouse’s cousin is responsible for the napkin decision some 20 years ago. I bought a couple of dozen at 2 for $1 and we’re still using them. The kitchen towel is a hold over from my childhood. Mom still keeps hers in a kitchen drawer ready for duty. (Hers get folded.) Sure, there is a roll of towels in the house. They mainly do service for yucky dog-related behavior. Napkins are saved from take out and kept for brown-bag lunches.

The goal is to keep stuff out of a landfill. With that in mind, we cycle kids clothes through the neighborhood. It’s worked really well for the last 10 years or so. Other goods head to the Goodwill collection site at Capitol and Calhoun. One of their VP’s once told me how many tons they collected there. It’s worth the effort.

Reuse works both ways. The family is as likely to frequent Goodwill for shopping as to donate. I always get a chuckle out of the deal when someone compliments me on a piece of clothing. (And I only shop sale days!) The children have made good use of the store over the years, too. I have a friend that put together an entire travel wardrobe to China there. It looked like something you’d see in a magazine.

For the big stuff – appliances, cars, furniture – we always try to find a home. I missed last year when it came to a couch, but that was the first furniture I’d thrown out in years. Chances are it had a home before it made it to the dump.

So, even if you have to be anonymous, what’s your best find? I’m not beyond a little dumpster diving. Surely you can share, too.


  1. Be careful Cindy…all this talk of recycling might make some folks wonder if you’re really a conservative.

  2. I’m pretty far to the right of Cindy on most things, and I have red worms that act as my garbage disposal. I grew up out doors in the country. It isn’t a liberal or conservative issue, except when we laugh at the liberal kids who believe that they are the prophets for the planet earth.

  3. Like I said, I’m cheap. It matters most that it’s good for my wallet. If it’s good for anyone else, so be it.