Going Green Step 2: Reuse

reuseReusing products instead of using disposable ones is a good start, but buying used items instead of purchasing new is a terrific way to become a “reuser”. We’ve never been good at buying used cars, but John doesn’t shy away from used boats. My Dad has helped me realize just how many quality items can purchased used. Furniture, clothing, bicycles, tools, and sporting goods are readily available every week at garage sales. Why buy new when you can get quality used items significantly reduced prices?

Reuse products instead of using disposable products:
Use real dishes instead of paper plates or plastic cups. There is certainly a time and place for disposable products but don’t use them on a daily basis. I have a friend who won’t even use paper napkins or paper towels. I admire her commitment, but I’m not there yet.

25 plastic plates for $5 replace the need for paper plates
25 plastic plates for $5 replace the need for paper plates


Reuse shopping bags:

Bring your own bags to the grocery. This saves trees and reduces the use of plastic. Be the crazy lady (funny how she’s the norm now) John hated to see coming in his checkout line at Publix and whatever you do, don’t follow Uncle Bill’s advice and ask for double bags!
Reuse lunch bags:

Lunch bags or “old school” lunch boxes and water containers should be used instead of paper lunch bags and plastic water bottles. I know I buy bottled water sometimes (not a good use of resources) but I use and refill the same bottle for days and sometimes for weeks – a little better.
Reuse Furniture:

Used furniture can serve the same purpose as new. We’re pretty good at this. Meghan has a bed and patio furniture that belonged to Grandma and Grandpa (things they bought used). Emily has our couch, the brass bed that was purchased in the 1800s by Grandma’s grandmother (not new then), and a bed that was Grandma’s and then Meghan’s; and Sarah’s made good use of several a hand me love seat, dining table and chairs, and a recliner when she moved to Jacksonville. Meghan recently bought a used patio set, and Emily reuses both furniture and signs for events. Consider at least some second hand furniture to furnish your rooms – a way to save money and go green.

Reuse Clothing, Bikes, Tools, and Other Items:

Donate clothing and other items to charities or sell them at a garage sale so someone else can reuse things you no longer need or want. There are numerous organizations that would love to have the things you no longer want or need. And if you’re patient, you can find items you want being discarded by others

Be a “Reuser”

Check out 50 Ways to Reuse Everything


Go Green

When I was in sixth grade in 1970, we celebrated the first Earth Day.  I remember numerous news stories on TV and in the newspapers about pollution problems in the Jacksonville area. There were pictures of who knows what being discharged from factories in to the St. John’s River. Of course, the paper factories were a major industry in Jacksonville and the odor emanating from them was a constant reminder of the air pollution problem in the city.  At that time plans were being formulated to protect the bald eagle since there was a real danger that our national symbol could become extinct. Looking back, it’s pretty amazing that so much focus was placed on the environment by the government and the media. What a successful campaign!

Jacksonville, FL 1960s
Jacksonville, FL 1960s

Schools were encouraged to spend time studying the issue of protecting the environment. That’s why I remember the news reports. We were to watch the news and cut out articles from the newspaper to share. My teacher, Mrs. Boyle, assigned research papers (an excellent way to get 12 year olds interested in the environment) and my project was on water pollution. But the important thing about that first Earth Day is that it started a conversation about the very real problems people were causing and how we might make changes to reverse the damage.

Many improvements have been made as a result of our nation’s focus on environmental protection. You no longer see the haze surrounding large cities. In the 1960s and 70s smog and other air pollution caused a visible haze especially noticeable when approaching a city. The air no longer has an odor associated with pollution except of course when fires are burning due to drought (or when you’re in Palatka where you can still smell the paper mills). Many rivers and lakes in the U.S. are in much better condition than 40 years ago, but I fear that some of that progress may be lost due to relaxing of some of the protections enacted during the past three or four decades. That’s why it’s more important than ever that each of us do our part to make a difference.

St. John's River algae blooms replace chemical spills in the 1960s and 70s.
St. John’s River algae blooms replace chemical spills of the 1960s and 70s.

I remember your Dad complaining about the crazy woman who would bring all of her mesh bags to Publix because she objected to cutting down trees to make paper bags. And at the same time my Uncle Bill was encouraging everyone he knew to ask the bag boys to double bag their groceries to help the paper industry. We weren’t very environmentally friendly.



While our nation is backsliding on environmental issues, more citizens are taking an active role in the protection of resources and the environment. So 43 years after the first Earth Day I want to remind you to make every day Earth Day and do your part. The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle slogan of Earth Day campaigns is the best way to issue these reminders. Do your part: reduce consumption, reuse resources, and then recycle. You can make a difference.