Earth Day 2015

In honor of Earth Day 2015, I'm reviving this blog, CAT Productions, which has been dormant for a few years. This blog has traditionally been about various recycling topics.  But, I think it's about much more than that. The CAT is about all manner of eco living, including the old-fashioned concepts of recycling by reusing items that others might just throw away; upcycling used containers and other things into new, more usable items; repairing appliances and tools that society has convinced us are not worth fixing; finding new uses for objects that have seemingly outlived their original usefulness; discovering ways to accomplish a particular task or goal without buying a bunch of extra stuff; and much more.

For this "grand re-opening" blog post, I'm going to focus on a topic that is of interest both here and on my other blog, 365 Letters: Creating your own stationery from stuff you'd ordinarily throw away.

Today, many of the world's citizens have no shortage of paper. We have easy access to notebook paper, printer paper, legal pads, etc., in addition to fancy stationery, notecards, etc. But, what many of us do have a problem with is too much trash and that can lead to problems for our environment. Whether it's dumped, buried or burned, our garbage is a problem. It can leak unhealthy chemicals into the land and water; it can clog up our land and waterways, including the oceans, with trash that hinders the survival of the animals and plants that live there; it can produce gasses that destroy our atmosphere and cause health problems for every living thing on the planet.

According to news reports, today, the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, will announce a new plan to reduce the amount of waste the city produces by 90 percent in the next 15 years. I haven't seen the plan, and I have no idea how NYC will reduce their waste by that much, but I have some ideas that individuals all over the world could use to reduce the amount of stuff that they throw away every day.

Back in our grandparents day and earlier, paper wasn't so easy to come by, and people reused every scrap of paper they could find. Old envelopes, paper bags and other forms of paper were reused for grocery lists, notes and letters. This was a practice that was sometimes taken to extremes, such as with "crisscross writing," which involved taking a piece of paper that had already been written on, turning it sideways and writing across the previously written words. Some examples of crisscross writing can be seen online here.

I'm not sure we need to go that far just yet, but we can take a look at things we currently consider trash and figure out how to reuse them. For example, I often write shopping lists on used envelopes or on the unused envelopes that often come with junk mail. The benefit of using envelopes for the lists is that any small items you need, such as coupons, old receipts, notes, money, can be stashed inside the envelope while you shop.

All sorts of packaging, from the paper sacks flour and sugar come in to the cardboard boxes for
cereal, snacks, toothpaste, etc., can be repurposed as stationery. And, this is a process that adapts to your lifestyle, no matter how much time or craftiness you have. If you're not the type of person who wants to spend hours creating mail art, simply save paper, such as flour sacks, junk mail or old office forms with blank backsides, and write your letter on the blank space. Fold the letter and put it in an envelope or tape it shut and put labels and stamps on it, turning it into a self-mailer.

On the other hand, if you'd like to spend more time on the project, cut boxes into rectangles and use them as postcards or notecards. I bought a cool rubber stamp to make the blank side of the cards look like postcards, but it isn't necessary, so long as the post office can determine who to send it to.

So, today, as we celebrate Earth Day, I encourage you to look around and see if there's anything you can reuse, repurpose, upcycle, etc. rather than throwing it away.

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