Reuse - Recycle... very recognizable words in the world today. But I love them! I love to REUSE things that I'd otherwise put in the recycling bin - and believe me, a lot of stuff ends up in the bin. Fortunately our neighborhood offers single stream recycling of just about every material, but even so - reusing something uses up even fewer precious resources than recyling in most cases.
One of the blogs I follow is Sew Many Ways. Karen, the blog author, does a feature post on Tuesday that I LOVE. It's called, Tooltime Tuesdays. She is always thinking outside the box and is great at coming up with alternative ways to use simple tools, many she finds at the hardware store for mere pennies. This past Tuesday she did a post about reusing plastic milk jugs and my heart soared!
I love reusing these plastic-handled containers (also from Lemonade or Tea or juice drinks). I reuse milk jugs for several purposes and apparently so do others. Here are some ideas I love though I'm sure there are MANY MANY more ways to reuse these everyday items:
1. Reusable sandwich containers. I love these because they are easy to wash or wipe out, and they aren't so big or heavy that they are hard to fit in a lunch box. My kids tell me they are some of the ONLY kids who bring lunch boxes to school. The last 2 of my 4 kids reported to me recently that most kids buy lunch or bring paper bags. I was astounded. I've been sending them off with lunch containers and freezer packs their whole life. In fact I even hated field trip days when they wouldn't allow lunch containers. I've never heard them complain about being the only ones in the cafeteria with a lunch container that returns home every day!
So here's my sandwich container which I close with a rubberband saved from brocolli bundles.
Here's a website that offers a tutorial and pattern to make them. I made mine about 4 years ago before I started following blogs. I think I read about them in a magazine when I was in a doctor's office so I don't have my original reference for the inspiration but I didn't come up with the idea on my own.
2. Food Scrap Containers and Watering Jugs. Just by cutting off the top of the jug you have a portable, handled container. I use mine to water my indoor flowers and houseplants. AND I sit one by the side of my sink to hold the food scraps that I carry out to the compost bin. The containers are easy to cut with scissors or knife and easy to rinse out and reuse if you are putting food scraps into them. When the container gets really yucky and old, I simply add it to the recycling bin and make a new one!
Here is a tutorial of how I make my container.
You can even opt for a hinged lid!
3. Years and years ago - probably back around 1999, when I religiously red every inch of Family Fun magazine and saved my favorite ideas to do with my kids (4 of them in 6 years of pregnancies!), I found a tutorial to make Mr. Bones. Mr. Bones is a milk jug skeleton and he hangs around my porch in October to welcome the Halloween season. I cannot tell you how many people have copied him... the mail man, the local pre-school teacher, etc... but I've been using the same Mr. Bones for more than 10 years! Here are a couple of tutorials on how to make one. HERE and ALSO HERE
It's very light weight and stores easily in the attic and hasn't been crushed in all the years I've owned him!
4. I googled reuse plastic milk cartons and found a few other ideas. How about this igloo.
Here is the link to a set of instructions. The instructions I found use hot glue guns to attache the bottles to one another but I imagined white duct tape and possibly string through holes in the sides might be another option. Gather the neighborhood kids this summer and give it a try. It might be fun to have a summer igloo!
5. I also liked the idea of popping some holes in the container lid and using it as a water spout.
Check this post to see how.
6. Something else I use the jugs for is in my garden when my plants are young. I don't have any of my own photos of this (I don't think) but I do it every year. I have a lot of rabbits in my area and when I plant beans and lettuce, I cover the young plants with milk jugs to keep the rabbits away from them and to help them endure any late spring frosts. Look Here.
How about cutting apart the milk carton with scissors to make garden veggie markers, halloween masks or ghosty lights, etc...
I'd love to see and hear how you reuse your milk jugs. Please feel free to share your link in the comments section of this blog post.