Sustainability | Ecotrope

Clever Ways Of Reusing Waste? What You Said...

Ecotrope | Jan. 23, 2013 4:44 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:27 p.m.

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Nastassja Pace of Portland incorporates her waste into artwork including this piece of plastic bags in a breaking wave.

Nastassja Pace of Portland incorporates her waste into artwork including this piece of plastic bags in a breaking wave.

I’ve gotten some great responses from people who are reusing waste in clever ways. Keep ‘em coming! I’m impressed by the number of folks who seem to be constantly on the look-out for ways to avoid throwing non-recyclable stuff in the trash.

Your ideas include ways of reusing everyday bags and containers, composting kitty litter, and even a new use for old motor oil. They include turning trash into art and an upcycling business.

Nastassja Pace of Portland turns old food packaging, bags and other trash into hand-bound books and artwork, including the photo above.

“It’s my environmental ethic that drives me to make these projects,” she said. “To bring importance to the stuff that no one wants – that we just send away and forget about.”

Sara Wiener of Bend doesn’t just save her own plastic bags. She collects them from people in the neighborhood and a local elementary school and turns them into totes, purses and messenger bags for her business, Sara Bella Upcycled.

Sara Wiener turns plastic bags and food wrappers into colorful purses, totes and even the raincoat shown here.

Sara Wiener turns plastic bags and food wrappers into colorful purses, totes and even the raincoat shown here.

Over the past three years, Wiener estimates she’s rescued hundreds of thousands of plastic bags and food wrappers. She also teaches classes on fusing plastic bags to make stitch-able fabric.

“I started doing this in my home and decided there was so much waste that I simply couldn’t stop,” she said. “So I decided to start a business … to rescue as many plastic bags from going into the landfill and waterways as possible.”

Pat McManus of Portland reuses the plastic liner bags inside cereal boxes, using paper clips, tape or rubber bands to seal them closed:

“I ‘snap’ out the final crumbs, rinse if the next use requires it, and use them for all sorts of things,” McManus said. “They are particularly good for packaging snacks, sandwiches, chips, etc, but also storing tools, utensils, odd stuff, wet rags for going on car trips, etc. They are really tough bags that are very resistant to ripping and water proof as well.”

Joe Kresse of La Grande reuses wine bottles for his own homemade wine. That’s in addition to composting his own kitchen waste and using it in the garden, as well as reusing Ziplock bags and plastic containers until they completely wear out.

“We like to use what we have and use it fully,” he said. “It does save money, and you feel like you’re doing something positive.”

Lance Ferraro of Portland puts motor oil drained from his car into his lawn mower! He also reuses disposable cups from Cool Moon Creamery at home and stores bulk nuts, pasta and cereal in old peanut butter containers.

Valerie Franklin of Portland reuses paper take-out bags as compost containers.

“When I fill up a paper bag, I just throw the whole thing into the compost bin,” she said, adding some advice for those who want to try it: “If you have really wet compost, this doesn’t work. If you have mildly wet compost, line the bottom with an extra paper bag or those ubiquitous takeout napkins that you never ask for but always get.”

Aliza Earnshaw of Portland removes the cat droppings from the litter box and uses the litter in her compost pile.

“It breaks down the food and garden materials very quickly,” she said. “The pellets we use are made of pressed pine dust, so the garden gets both nitrogen and tilth.”

Want a few more DIY ideas for reusing waste? I love this series, which includes instructions for making a lamp shade out of plastic spoons, a purse from pop tabs and planters from old light bulbs. And don’t miss this slideshow of art made from trash.

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