I love reuse. From creatively upcycling, to avoiding disposables and shunning ridiculously over packaged goods, on any given day I’m usually reusing something. It has a big impact on reducing what we contribute to the landfill every month, but I know the bigger impact is upstream when all those disposable goods are produced. So here’s my Top Ten Ways I Reuse – and you can too!

1. Pack My Coffee Mug. (or a mason jar with this lid and a beer coozie). Easy to remember if I’m bringing the rest of my coffee to work, otherwise I try to pack it in case I get some more on the go.

2. Dress My Kid in Hand-Me-Downs. She hasn’t even worn everything we have, and I have bags more in the closet as she grows. I’ll check out consignment stores and online swaps if I need something specific. At some point I’ll have a closet full of clothes to pass on to someone else.

3. Wipe The Counters – and Messy Faces – with Washcloths. While disposable wipes are handy for diaper time and on-the-go, we use washcloths for everything else and keep a paper towel roll for emergency use. Start by getting them off the counter and into the cabinet.

4. Donate Stuff I Don’t Use. If I feel like it has any chance at a second, third or fourth life, I pass it along.

5. Pack My Lunch in a Jar. These handy inserts from cuppow make separating items easy.

6. Put A Cloth Diaper On My Kiddo. Not everyday, and lately less than I used to, but as far as I see it every time I use a cloth diaper it’s one less diaper to sit in a landfill for 10,000 years.

7. Rinse Out A Ziploc. On any given day there are a slew of plastic bags drying out waiting for their next use. We buy about 1 box of ziplocks a year and get by reusing those and other resealable plastic packaging until its not worth easily rinsing out.

8. Wear Hand-Me-Downs Myself. Whether its from a thrift store, consignment store or a girly clothing exchange, most of my clothes had a life before mine (and they would after me too, if I wasn’t such a spiller).

9. Peruse Craigslist. When I’m on the lookout for something in particular, like a used chair or a sewing machine, I check it daily.

10. Make Something. I love reclaiming, repurposing and upcycling stuff into better, functional stuff. Like these map journals.

11. BONUS! We use toilet paper rolls to keep small extension cords organized.

What’s your favorite way to reuse?



  1. I love reading these posts. I can hear Denise’s voice shine through – all while I’m nodding my head in agreement and feeling good about all the things on this list that I do on a daily basis, too.

  2. We’ve had some big outdoor parties(100+) on our farm and have been determined to be zero waste. Told people before they came. Used mason jars, for drinks, large water receptacles for refills, real plates and utensils – rented from Locavore, cut up an old sheet for napkins which we’ve washed and now reused several times. Posted a poster (from recycled cardboard) explaining, and asking people to pack out what they brought. Leftover food scraped into a bucket, some to the chickens, rest to compost pile. End product = no garbage at all. Just remember, we are not inventing this, but just remembering what people used to do before all of this so-called convenience was invented, inundating us all.

    • The Environmental Center says:

      Nice work! And you’re right, it’s nothing new, but yet it can feel so revolutionary because our culture is heading the opposite way towards convenience and disposability. We need more people, businesses, and event organizers like yourself stepping up and doing it this way (the way it always used to be done!)

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