I was brought up in the years of austerity just after the war, in a family without a lot of spare cash. It was drummed into us at an early age that nothing was to be wasted, and to some extent this is ingrained into me still. I hate to see waste in any form, and really dislike throwing anything away that can be reused. Then it was to do with saving money, although now it would be called saving the world. I strongly believe that the earth's resources are finite, and that we should all be thinking about reusing as much as we can.
Some things I remember from my childhood:
Never leave a light on when out of a room
Be sparing with hot water - we were allowed one pint jug full to rinse when washing hair
Reuse waxed paper from cereal boxes to wrap packed lunches
Wear jumpers to bed in winter
Unwrap Christmas presents carefully and fold paper to use next year
Burn as much rubbish as possible on the open fire
Shut doors to keep in heat in winter (hands up if you can remember huddling next to the open fire and getting blotchy marks on your legs and a frozen back!)
Hand down clothes (I was the youngest girl of three so certainly knew what that meant!)
Hand knit and sew as many clothes as possible
Re-use fabric from old clothes to make new garments, and unravel jumpers to reknit the yarn
Shop at jumble sales
I am sure there are many more. We never actually used newspaper in the loo but I remember going to play with friends nearby who did!
We re-use and re-cycle as much as we can now without especially thinking about it. Although we are not fanatical about it here are a few of the things we do:
Used stamps are taken to Oxfam
Plastic milk bottle caps go to the playgroup
Unwanted DVDs and CDs are hung up to deter birds on the allotment
Old video tape is used to tie up plants on the allotment
Shredded paper is composted
Fizzy drinks bottles are cut down and used as mini greenhouses on new plants
Small plastic bottles like Yakult size are used to top canes
Old spectacles go to Specsavers for renovation and passing on
I collect buttons from old clothes
Junk mail/letters or paper printed on one side goes through the printer again for non important printing
I refill printer cartridges with ink (tip, unless you want black fingernails for weeks use plastic gloves)
Yoghurt pots are used for mixing filler/paint etc when decorating
Old carpet goes onto the allotment for paths or on areas to clear weeds
Old hand knit jumpers are unravelled and the yarn reused (I wind it round plastic bottles, dunk in water with a bit of detergent in and dry, to take out the kinks)
Plastic plant pots are saved for plant sales
Broken terracota pots are used for crocks in pots
Plastic carrier bags (we get them occasionally even when using our own bags!) are used to hold rubbish for the dustbin
Clothes go into clothes banks (whatever happened to jumble sales, they don't seem to exist in our area any more?)
A couple of old bikes have gone to a chap nearby who renovates them and they are sent to Africa (he doesn't seem to have a weblink but I see there are several similar schemes online)
Old pallets have been used to make a compost bin
Screws, nuts and bolts are saved for reuse
Margarine containers are cut into strips to make plant labels
Many many things such as packing materials can be used in craft activities with children
We have an excellent kerbside collection which takes all the usual things such as glass, paper etc.
In our area there is a thriving Freecycle scheme, and any unwanted item listed there is snapped up by someone who would like it.
This site tells you how to recycle anything!
I had intended to write a post about how I recycle packing materials, but got carried away. That can be for next time.