Government of New Brunswick

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.


Other Things You Can Do

Be creative! There are many ways to reduce waste by extending the life of the things you already have. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Save packing materials like bubble-wrap and foam "peanuts" to mail your own parcels. Ribbons and string, rubber bands, twist-ties, and paper clips can all be used many times over.

In the garden, protect seedlings from cutworms with cardboard tubes from toilet-paper rolls, and tie up tomatoes with old pantyhose. Give the dishwater to your flowers, instead of letting it run down the drain. Ask other gardeners for their own favourite tricks!

Old clothes that are too worn to wear or repair can be used for Halloween costumes, or can go into a dress-up box for makebelieve games. Pants and jeans with worn-out knees can make new shorts, and old T-shirts make great reusable cleaning rags

Use rechargeables instead of single-use batteries whenever possible. Rechargeable batteries can be used many times, then dropped off for recycling at participating stores in every part of New Brunswick.

The Salvation Army thrift shops welcome donations of a wide range of clothing, toys, books and housewares, as do most women's shelters and anti-poverty groups who help people get back on their feet.

Old towels and sheets can be donated to the SPCA, where they can be used as cosy bedding for animals waiting to be adopted.

The Lions Club collects used eyeglasses - lenses, frames, or both. These are refurbished and sent to less wealthy countries where opticians can distribute them to people in need.

Habitat for Humanity "Re-Stores" (like the one in Moncton) sell surplus or salvaged building supplies, donated by industry and individuals, to support affordable housing projects in the community.

CARE Canada will arrange shipping for your unwanted tools and equipment - woodworking, metal-working, industrial, almost anything - so that people in Third World countries are better equipped to earn a living.

The Aliant Pioneers, volunteers from our telecommunications industry, repair the surplus computers donated to Computers For Schools. In 2001 alone, 416 good-as-new computers came to New Brunswick schools.