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Bankrate's 2007 Living Green, Saving Green Guide
Green today
Learn 153 ways to be eco-friendly while saving green.
Green today
Recycling's great -- reusing is better
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3. Sell it -- recoup original cost while reusing.
Checking in with family and friends may be the easiest way to find a new home for old items, from tools to camera equipment to children's toys. Caserta estimates that 90 percent of the clothing his daughter wears was handed down from people he knows. The networks Freecycle and FreeSharing are two places to find local people in need of specific items.

When looking to simply drop off unwanted items, good options include Goodwill, Red Cross, United Way and the Salvation Army. There are more than 6,000 of these and other "reuse centers" around the country, according to the EPA.

Also consider schools, day care facilities and senior centers as donation spots, especially for items (such as egg cartons and colored paper) that could be used as crafts projects. Computer equipment and other electronics may also be welcome; some agencies that facilitate the donation of used computers can be found at the EPA's Web site.

Keep in mind: Donations to nonprofit reuse operations with 501(c)3 status can result in a tax deduction based on fair market value.

4. Buy it used -- reuse it and save money.
Call it practicing reuse for a profit -- or "entrepreneurial reuse," as Wellington does. Whether it's through a tag sale, the classifieds or an online auction on eBay, finding a buyer for items you don't want keeps them out of landfills.

Less than a third of all children who live within a mile of their school actually walk there, while half go by car. If just 6 percent of those students walked, it would save 60,000 gallons of gasoline -- per day!

Buying one of those items keeps reuse going, too. "It's important to buy at Goodwill as well as drop off at Goodwill," Grose reminds, adding that specialty designers are a source of reused items as well. For example, Used Rubber USA creates bags, wallets and other items out of reclaimed industrial rubber; Crispina rugs, blankets and other products incorporate sweater fabrics; and the Green Glass Company makes drinking glasses out of old bottles.

Just be sure you don't buy what you don't truly need. For Mihelcic, that meant reusing the infrastructure of his old home while refurbishing it, even though it meant constraints on the design. From the manufacture of the original home's tiles to its concrete, "There's a tremendous amount of embodied energy, embodied water that went into creating what went into your house," he says.

When Grose hears people in her industry say things like, "Now all my sheets are organic," she can't help but think, "What happened to your old ones?"

-- Posted: Oct. 4, 2007
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