When we've reduced the waste coming in, the next step is to reuse what we've got. We want to delay the time when our goods must go into the garbage, perhaps to be replaced by something new. In practical terms, "Reuse" means repairing what's broken, finding new uses for old things, and sharing with others what we no longer need for ourselves.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started. Think twice before throwing away items that are worn or no longer work well. Could they be repaired, instead of replaced? Avoid disposable, single-use products such as foam cups and paper napkins. Choosing the reusable varieties of tableware and cloth napkins saves a lot of waste, and will save money in the long run.
Empty jars, bottles and other containers can be rinsed out and used to store other things. For safety's sake, never reuse a container that once held hazardous products such as pesticides, solvents, gasoline, oil, or antifreeze. The clear plastic bags used for milk can be rinsed and reused for sandwich bags. They also make good freezer bags for the local fruit and vegetables you can buy economically at harvest time.
When you've used something all you can, pass it along to someone else. Yard sales, flea markets and secondhand stores offer an opportunity to turn your good used items into a little extra cash. Keep an eye on the classified ads, too: someone may be searching for the very item you are no longer using.
Best of all, make a donation. Could your school library use some books? Is your church or youth group planning a rummage sale? Call around your community and see what you can offer.
Public libraries and the Internet are great sources for information on reusing household items, including rainy-day crafts for kids. At the conclusion of this handbook, we have listed a few additional sources for you.