The earth is rejoicing because today is Green Consumer Day.
Green Consumer Day is a day for recognizing the effect consumerism has on the environment, according to the EduGreen Web site, a Web site that educates youth about the environment.
The three R’s that should be practiced to produce less waste and protect the environment are reduce, reuse and recycle. While all three are important, there are several items students need to reuse to cut down on resource use.
REUSE BEFORE RECYCLE Ben Champion, instructor of geography, said reusing materials instead of recycling them helps avoid creating wastes from the processes of recycling.
“Recycling is often very resource-intensive,” he said, “and it is also logistically complex. It is, therefore, pretty wasteful.”
Champion said society uses a lot of products that derive from basic natural resources. He gave the example of drinking tap water that comes from local reservoirs, and drinking bottled water that comes from a different locale and its affects on water use throughout the world.
“The production of a lot of the goods we do consume is also energy and resource-intensive,” he said. “The inputs and outputs of those processes can be very concerning in air and water pollution.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site, reusing items by repairing them, donating them or selling them helps reduce waste and is “even better than recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again.”
PROJECT IDEAS K-State’s Students for Environmental Action members think of creative ways to reuse everyday items, and sometimes they sell them for fundraising events.
Pam Wittman, SEA secretary, said the organization thinks of different craft ideas each semester.
Wittman, a junior in finance, said many items still can be used for different purposes rather than being thrown away – it just takes creativity and adaptability with the original products. This helps the consumer save money by not needing to buy more products.
“You are doing both you and the environment a favor,” she said.
The members have reused everyday materials to make objects like magnets out of bottle caps and pictures out of magazines.
She said the magnets are made by using Modge Podge to attach the pictures to the bottle caps, and then hot glue is used to attach the magnets to the bottle caps.
“It’s reusing items to make cool things,” she said. Wittman said the group has made purses and bags from plastic bags from grocery stores. She said the plastic sacks were cut into long strips and crocheted to make the accessories.
Rylan Ortiz, senior in electrical engineering and a member of SEA, he said the most popular project the group has made is recycled notebooks.
Ortiz said 8-1/2 by 11 inches of cardboard from cereal or beer boxes are used for the front and back cover of the notebook. Then the group gets recycled paper from the computer labs on campus and uses the unused side of the sheets of paper to fill the notebook. He said the members use about 80 sheets for each notebook.
Next, he said they use a heavy-duty stapler and staple along the seam of the cardboard.
“A trick is to cut down the already folded section an inch from the main cover over into smaller area,” he said.
To make the cover look nicer, he said members use denim from jeans and glue it to the cardboard.
“It’s a good conversation topic,” Ortiz said. “Making all of these things is really unconventional, and usually someone starts a conversation about your notebook.”
He said the group also makes pillows by hand-sewing fabric and stuffing it with old dryer sheets to add fluff and a little fragrance.
“The girls brought an old skirt, and we just saved up a bunch of old dryer sheets,” he said.
Ortiz said saving items and reusing them is good, but it is helpful to label boxes for the items so homes do not get cluttered. He said consumers also should rinse out all items of food to avoid attracting bugs.
“It consumes less resources, and it takes up less space in your house,” he said. “A creative project, which you get more out of than if you were to just go buy something, saves you money. If you do it with a group, it’s a fun group project.”
Wittman said the members often have their crafts sold at Rockstar and Rogers Clothing and Costume in Aggieville.
Rebecca Craig, co-owner of Rockstar and Rogers said the store has sold some of the notebooks, buttons and crotcheted bags for SEA.
Craig said the store sold the items for the group to help with its fundraiser. While she said the store buys items from customers, she said the items depend on their quality.
“If they’re making something we think is cool, and it’s for a good cause, we’ll help them out,” she said. ‘MOST EFFICIENT THING’ Wittman said the organization also has trade parties to help reuse items the members do not want.
“You just pile it all, and people take whatever they want,” she said.
She said items that often are traded are clothes, kitchen appliances, furniture, electronics, compact discs, movies and books.
“You’re wasting resources by buying something new,” Wittman said. “If you would actually reuse items you would find that your life is a lot less cluttered and you save money. It helps save on resources that were used to make those products.”
Megan Bindel, senior in geography and biology and president of SEA, said common things college students waste are grocery bags and water bottles.
“Plastic is one of the most inefficient things to recycle,” she said.
If students reused their own canvas bags for their groceries and heavy-duty water bottles instead of the disposable ones, less environmental resources will be used, Bindel said.
According to the Kansas Green Team Web site, other items that can be reused are cardboard boxes for shipping items and two-way envelopes. Reusing household items like coffee cups, utensils and dishes instead of using disposables also saves resources.
Used books and magazines also can be donated to local bookstores, literacy programs, hospitals or schools, according to the Web site.