Recycling in the home is essential for the future, but we could do worse than take a few tips from the past.

 

Arts and crafts

Blue Peter had exactly the right idea with their sticky-back plastic and lolly sticks. We didn’t all have the staying power to take on the titan that was Tracy Island, but we can all turn an old glass jar into a candle holder. That’s just the start of it: cardboard boxes can be covered in wallpaper to become stylish storage solutions, or coated in silver paint and turned into a robot’s chest. The latter suggestion is aimed mainly at kids but adults should feel free to let their imagination run wild too where recycling is concerned. Pretty pictures and stylish scripts from old newspapers and magazines can also be reused thanks to decoupage. With the boho, arts and crafts look very a la mode at the moment; recycling is more than just economical, it’s a fashion statement.

 

A place for everything…

… and everything in its place. As clichéd bits of motherly advice go, it’s right up there with “waste not, want not” and the two work really well together. First of all, make sure to apply it to your recycling bins. Know what goes where and when. This may sound like teaching granny to suck eggs (sorry for all the clichés) but it’s surprising how many recyclables get wasted because people don’t know they’re recyclable, or put them in the wrong bin. Beyond the bins, you can save buttons, textiles and bits of wire until they’re needed for repairs or cleaning jobs. (But only if you remember where they’re kept. Otherwise you’re just littering your own home.)

 

Know your onions

Okay, onions aren’t recyclable – put them in the compost when they’re done with – but knowing what’s what can make all the difference, and not just with bins. The location of local recycling banks and secondhand shops is an important piece of information, and it’s always worth knowing the number of your nearest scrap merchant.

 

If it ain’t broke…

This is more of a personal choice than something that a person can be advised on one way or the other. However, it’s often worth taking a moment to consider whether that phone with the superficial chip in the case really needs replacing. A lot of household goods get thrown away because they look a bit worn or simply because they’re not the latest model anymore. This doesn’t mean spending your evenings playing Pac-Man, or sending texts on your Nokia 3310, but it could mean passing stuff on to a relation, or sending it to charity instead of to the dump.

 

Make do and mend

This old bit of World War advice was always going to pop up here. It overlaps with the previous tip but, combined with a little know-how, recycling can become a skill of which to be proud. Wire those plugs, re-hem those skirts and get new heels for your shoes when required. It got our ancestors through half a century of rationing and it’ll get us through decades of environmental economy.

old pegs

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