Every Friday I empty the tiny garbage can that sits beneath my desk. This may seem like an extraordinarily mundane task (and believe me, it is) but last Friday, I had a lightbulb moment. Not to get too detailed, but during the week, my trash mostly consists of the daily university newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel
. (Please, don't send the eco-police!)
The newspaper, though surprisingly thin, still takes up quite a lot of room, and by the end of the week I barely have room to stuff anything else into the tiny white bin. Not only does this take time out of my day, but it also makes me go through my grocery bags (my substitute for Glad) even faster than usual, which we all know doesn't exactly benefit whatever landfill in which they find themselves. So when I took out my trash last Friday, I wagered a bet that there was more to do with that unwanted newspaper than to send it to the recycle bin or landfill.
While perusing Lexington's local newspaper, The Lexington Herald Leader, online "green spot" I stumbled upon a helpful little list of 10 things to do with recycled newspaper (borrowed from Ericka Pizzillo Cohen for the Bellingham Herald). And here they are, reprinted for your convenience:
1) Use the section for fire pit kindling during your summer camping trip.
2) Create seed pots for vegetables and herbs by rolling a piece of the section around a soda can. Take the soda can out and fold the top edge towards the inside to secure. Then fold the bottom edge towards the middle of the opening to form the base. Damp potting soil will keep everything secure.When the plants are hardy, they can be transplanted directly in the garden in the biodegradable pot.
3) Feed the section into a paper shredder and use for stuffing in gift bags instead of tissue paper. If you want extra points for your green-giving credibility, use a 99-cent reusable grocery bag instead of a glossy gift bag.
4) Ripen summer nectarines and peaches by loosely wrapping them in newspaper when a paper bag isn't handy.
5) Use a newspaper to grip a stubborn jar lid for easier opening.
Make your own recycling bin out of the section. Jeffery Rudell, a New York-based paper artist and competitor on the TV show "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," shares his basket-weaving technique with newspaper at craftstylish.com
7) Rudell also suggests using his mother's glass-cleaning method. She used a bucket of soapy water with Dove dishwashing liquid to clean windows. Newspapers wadded up like rags dry them with a streak-free shine.
8) Gutting your summer catch of salmon on the section is an iconic spin on the term "fish wrapper."
9) Spread newspaper across the kitchen table while shucking summer sweet corn to keep husks and messy corn silks contained.
10) Help your grade-schooler make a story. Have the child cut out a photo from the section and ask them to spin a yarn about what they see in the photo. Suggest Earth-friendly storylines about what people can do to protect the environment.
All of these sound like excellent alternatives where most people would normally use paper towels, cardboard, plastic products and anything else that seems to only have a one-time use. So whether you're gutting a fish (sounds complicated!) or just reading the paper, think about all the ways it could be put to good use in your house before you send it out the door.
Photo: Arbel Egger/Flickr