Recycle!, Recycle!, Recycle!

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In the age of disposability one is hard pressed to find items that can be re-used. But if one looks hard enough you would be amazed at one can find to recycle and re-use. First don’t take anything for granted just because it says disposable on the package doesn’t mean that you cannot re-use it or part of it. Let’s take a look at some simple items that can be recycled and or cannibalized to be used for other purposes.
When living on a fixed income it is paramount that you save as much money as possible. $600 a month is not a lot to work with when it comes to disposable income. So every penny counts. I learned most of my Recycling skills from my mother. She is a little off the rocker as it were but very practical when it comes to such things. A lot of what we have recycled over the years was from what other people have thrown out.
Here is a list of items recovered by this scrounging.
1) Old screen doors –
The screens are worth their weight in gold. If they are made of wood (Older homes) the wood can be used for any number of projects. Fence mending or shed building come to mind.
2) Cast Iron Pots and Pans - I was actually shocked that anyone would throw these out so I went to the former owner and asked why they would throw those out. I was told that they were her grandmother’s old pans and that she passed away and she found no good reason to keep them. So my mom and I got a gold mine on that one.
3) Toys –
Every November the alley suddenly filled with old toys. For those who can’t afford to buy all of those fancy expensive toys and games this makes for a great Christmas for those on a low income. We found perfectly good toys that had absolutely nothing wrong with them. Aside from the occasional nick and scratch they worked just fine even the electronic ones.
4) Old furniture –
Pretty self explanatory. A little Tender Loving Care and most pieces work like new.
5) Solar Powered calculators –
This one is more for the Techno-geeks but enough of these can yield enough mini-solar panels to make a small battery charger.
6) Old appliances –
Most of the time, people don’t realize that it is a matter of a belt or something simple that causes the appliance to stop working. Again Age of Disposability. Why fix it when you can replace it with one just like it. If the appliance truly is "fried beyond repair" there are still many things that can be cannibalized. Motors belts, hardware, and copper wiring all come in handy.

Now on personal recycling there are a great many things on can keep and reuse and cannibalized for other applications.
1) Plastic Peanut Butter Jars –
I read a while back that these make Great additions to B.O.B. {Bug out Bags} with all of the gear one needs just in case there has always been the issue of all those little things that are easily lost and scattered through out your B.O.B.
Everything from small tools to a first aid kit in a jar. Since that article I have seen a sudden surge of "Kits in a Jar" for sale for ten to twenty dollars a pop. Now this is great for those who can afford such things. The only problem is they are all stock and most of their contents are not of the best quality. I find that a custom kit made from items that fit your own needs are, better than generic kits. The other thing that works is you can fill it with high quality items of your own choosing.
Another good thing about these plastic jars is they have several uses. A little acrylic paint and some creativity and you can fake the look of peanut butter. Add several coin rolls. Based on an article I read this week I tested a theory and found that The Jiff peanut butter jar is the perfect size to fit rolls of Nickels. Another use is as planters. Take the lid off of the jar and drill 3 holes in the bottom. Glue the lid to the bottom and cut off the top lip of the jar. Fill with dirt and you have a recycled Jiff jar that can be used to start your garden in.
2) Disposable Lighters – This one has probably been told several times but it is still worth another word. After the disposable is empty one of the more crucial pieces is still viable. That being the flint. Be careful when removing the spark wheel. You will shoot the flint across the room never to be seen again. These flints are the perfect size for all standard Zippo lighters
. I have personally tested this and have found that these flints generally last longer than the refills that you pay $.99 cents or more for. People think I’m nuts for saving all of those disposable lighters. I can’t tell you how many times I have found a disposable lighter lying on the ground and snatched them up. Recycling the flints is just one application. The other thing that can be done is to assemble a tinder kit. All you need is an Altoids container some dryer lint and a disposable lighter with the wind guard removed. Put the dryer lint into a small plastic bag (sandwich bags work well for this) fold the bag over several times to ensure that the lint will not get wet. Seal it with some duct tape and place in the tin with the disposable lighter. The Altoids Gum tins work best for this as they are half the size of a standard Altoids tin. Add this to your Jiff kit and your good to go.
3) Coffee cans –
Everything from a cook stove to food storage.
4) Plastic weave Cat Food, Dog Food and Livestock Feed bags –
Can be recycled to make sand bags. So keep those bags they are tough as nails.
5) Two Liter soda pop bottles - Water Storage
6) Pop Ice brand Popsicle wrappers –
The log ones in the plastic tube wrap. These and a paper clip work well to make long Ice tubes that fit in the end of pop bottles.
7) Plastic dog food and cat food buckets –
Free Stackable storage buckets that can be used without the cost of buying additional buckets. Perfect 5lb storage containers just add food grade storage bags and an oxygen absorber for long term storage.
8) Old Pill bottles –
Store small screws, nuts, bolts, nails and any number of other small items.
9) Old Office chairs –
The caster wheels can be salvaged for use in making a rolling storage shelf or work bench using the recycled wood from discarded doors.
10) America Online (AOL) Promotional CD-ROMs – Cut down make good signal mirrors that can fit in a pocket survival kit. [JWR Adds:
Intact, they also make good mirrors to hang up in your fruit trees and over your vegetable garden to help ward off marauding birds. You can hang them up with monofilament fishing line.]
11) Old cotton T-shirts –
Cut apart, these make good gun bore and chamber cleaning patches.
12) Anything Denim – Cloth mending patches. [JWR Adds:
Cut-off denim pant legs also make very sturdy sacks if you sew up one end.]
13) Old VCR tapes - Tested this after seeing Castaway with Tom Hanks. In-a-pinch Lashings.

This is just a beginning list of recyclable and reusable items. The list can go on and on. Use your imagination and some ingenuity and there is a wealth of items that can be used and adapted for survival. Feel free to add to this anything that I have missed. This is an on-going process and experiment that those on a limited budget can apply.