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Reuse!!

Reuses for Rubber Bands

Stop carelessly tossing rubber bands and start reusing them with the help of these inspirational ideas.

We each accumulate a fair number of rubber bands. They are wrapped around our mail, the broccoli we buy in stores or at farmers markets, the newspapers delivered to our homes and many other everyday items. Rubber bands are not compostable or recyclable, but don’t throw them away because they can be reused.

One of the most innovative ways to reuse rubber bands is rubber band lamps (see above). Made by Bath, England-based Orchard Studio, these lamps are created from reclaimed rubber bands and are cool and colorful.

Another designer, Christiane Diehl of Hanover, Germany, reuses rubber bands to make rubber band jewelry (right).

Here are some ideas you can use at home for reusing your rubber bands:

  • The United States Postal Service (USPS) reuses rubber bands. You can leave them out for your mail carrier or take them with you the next time your visit your local post office. You can even bundle them and drop them into any blue USPS-designated mailbox.
  • Wrap a rubber band or two around the lid of a jar to make a stubborn lid easier to open.
  • Keep a desk drawer more organized by using rubber bands to wrap around pencils, pens, markers and crayons.
  • Keep your sewing basket better organized by wrapping rubber bands around your spools of thread to keep them from unraveling and tangling up.
  • When mixing up cake, pancake or muffin batter, wrap a rubber band around the top of the handle of your spoon to stop if from slipping into the mixing bowl.
  • Secure rubber bands around the shoulder areas of a hanger to help keep clothing from sliding off the hanger.
  • This rubber band maternity trick helped me through two pregnancies. Continue using your jeans throughout your pregnancy by threading a rubber band through your jeans buttonhole and then around the button.

Do you know of other rubber band reuse ideas? Feel free to share them in the comments section!

Roofing Waste

The Staggering Impact of Roofing Waste (and a Recycling Solution)

Eleven million tons of asphalt shingle waste is generated annually in the U.S. What can you do to make a change?

When was the last time you thought about roofing waste? Yeah, we thought so.

Most of us think about asphalt roof shingles only when we need to repair or replace a roof. Recycling shingles probably doesn’t make your top 10 list of everyday recycling ideas to help protect the planet.

But, roofing waste is a big deal. Consider this: 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste is generated in the U.S. each year. That is more than the combined weight of every Ford vehicle sold in the U.S. in 2011. If you think about how many houses and commercial buildings we have in this country — how many rooftops we have — you will begin to appreciate how much roofing waste we generate.

Recycling shingles can have a huge impact on reducing that waste. Consider the following facts about shingle waste:

  • More than 12.5 billion square feet of shingles are manufactured each year in the U.S.
  • That’s more than 448 square miles of roof shingles — enough to cover Washington, D.C., with shingles four-and-a-half times.
  • 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste is generated in the U.S. each year.
  • Recycling 11 million tons of asphalt roofing shingles is the equivalent of saving 11 million barrels of oil.
  • The U.S. manufactures enough asphalt shingles each year to cover the entire Facebook campus 11,000 times.
  • Asphalt roof shingles don’t have to fill up landfills. They can be recycled!

Reduce, reuse and recycle shingles

Roofing contractors can reduce shingle waste by measuring accurately and only purchasing what is needed, which also keeps roofing costs down. When hiring a roofing contractor, ask each contractor you interview for an estimate of shingle use. A contractor who purchases an appropriate amount of shingles will contain costs and reduce waste.

Also, ask your roofing contractors if they plan to recycle old shingles after they have been removed from your roof. In many states, recycled shingles can be used in asphalt for paving roads. Choose a contractor who recycles shingle waste, rather than sending it to a landfill.

Finally, ask your contractor what will be done with surplus shingles. Extra shingles can be donated to Habitat for Humanity and other charitable organizations. Ask your local Habitat chapter if it can recommend a roofing contractor who supports this mission.

Recycling shingles when you replace or repair your roof can go a long way toward reducing the millions of tons of shingles sent to landfills each year. That’s a goal homeowners and contractors alike should work toward.