So I can't currently get out of the mainstream, however I'd love to start using some of the stuff we throw in the recycling bin. To start with
I've got a ton of 2 liter bottles, both green and clear. My idea is to cut the top off [save as a funnel?] and use it as a very mini greenhouse for seedlings in nasty weather, etc. Maybe even a tiny terrarium to put some plants around the house, etc.
For tin cans like tuna cans, I was thinking maybe cupcakes? I'd like to get a few that have removable bottoms for crumpet making as well.
Could maybe use some of them for pots as well, though outside cause the rust water thing.
The alcohol reserves are slowly depleting and we've some interesting glass containers. Since there was a west nile thing down here last year
so I was thinking a citronella torch/candle thing, using some worn out old cotton shirts as the wick, and maybe a length of wire to hold the
wick in place. Easy peasy!
What I'm having the most issue with is the printed on cardboard you get with things like noodles or a thing of cookies. What in the world do
I do with those? Can I compost them? A bit wary of putting that in with my lovely worms.
What do you do with your random package materials?
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. ~Frank Lloyd Wright
For your plastic and glass bottles, brew more and refill!
With the cardboard, if you raise chickens, you could chop the cardboard and any other paper scraps and make a slurry. Then make a wire mesh mold for an egg carton and use the slurry to make them. Essentially you would be recycling your own paper. Or, just make paper out of it and send really nice letters to some friends. Another option if you have any kids in your life would be to use it for paper mache. Pinatas? Just google paper making or paper mache for ideas.
When I was market-gardening I accumulated a collection of over 1000 gallon milk jugs, which I cut the bottoms out of, and a similar number of bleach jugs, which I cut both top and bottoms out of, and used them for planting aids. Each transplant (brassica, tomato, pepper, etc.) got planted in a bleach jug ring which served as a shelter, cutworm ring, and watering aid to keep water right around the plant rather than spreading out and watering weeds. The gallon milk jugs would fit snugly onto the bleach jug rings, creating little greenhouses for early plantings or fluke late frosts. Small transplants could grow up in these for three weeks or more before pushing against the milk jugs, giving a significant head start. I would imagine that cans and 2 liter jugs could work the same way, although the jugs would probably go all the way over the cans and into the ground, which is fine too. To me as a sheet-mulcher, chicken keeper and woodstove user, hardly any piece of paper or cardboard that comes onto our farm leaves it, and I am deliberately importing more on a regular basis....
I try to avoid bringing those things home in the first place and I do take to our local recycling center what can be recycled. I don't like to use things in my garden or compost when I can't identify the ingredients. Colored paper always has the potential for heavy metals in the pigments (even in soy bean ink). Plastics break down eventually and become bits of plastic, never one with your soil and not useful anymore to recycle. In my ideal world our recycling center would be unnecessary but as long as folks keep supporting bad packaging by buying those things I think commercial recycling is better than home reuse.
On the other hand, I do reuse glass jars for food storage/ my husband bottles his muscadine wine in reused bottles and I use some unwaxed, untreated (with fungicide) cardboard as weed barrier.
I think the important thing is to do your own research and weigh the risks you are willing to take. If you are following organic guidelines (for certification or not) no colored paper is allowed but there are those at permies perfectly comfortable using it...with a little research you can make an informed decision for you and your family.
edited to add...our recycling center takes all paper including magazines, glossy ad copy, etc. Glass is more difficult to recycle because of impurities but fortunately is inert for home reuse. Some plastics are being recycled into carpets, "lumber" and some clothing and I am not sure the recycling process is any less polluting than the original manufactoring but one hopes (ha, ha) they are better able to deal with toxic waste than the average person.
I do agree with taking responsibility as individuals for our own waste...for me that means being less of a consumer.
"We're all just walking each other home." -Ram Dass
"Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder."-Rumi