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Alternative ways to use everyday items

October 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Twelve percent of the products we buy, both used and unused, end up in landfills, and 30 percent of all packaging materials end up there too. Alternatively using those things can help the environment while saving you money.There is a new Web site where you simply plug in the name of a product, and it shows you all of the alternative uses for it. Or, you can put in the problem you have, and it will show you what everyday products you have in your cupboard can solve the problem.

Concern for the environment is very important to Elaine Kim. This Laurel Canyon resident drives a car that runs on vegetable oil.

She uses energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, and even the doors in her house double as chalk boards for the kids.

Elaine's grandmother had a lot to do with her attitude.

"She just had the basic things that she grew up with, and I saw her live this life. So for me this is second nature; this is how I grew up," said Elaine.

Kim uses a new Web site called AltUse.com to help her do even more to conserve.

"Alt Use is the world's largest public repository of alternative uses of everyday products. It's a Wiki-style Web site, so we're tapping into the collective wisdom of the world to collect all these alternative uses of products," said Alt Use president Benjamin Goldfarb.

The alternative uses for everyday products come from consumers just like you and Elaine.

In fact, Elaine submitted an idea of using a funnel made out of a Gatorade bottle to pour vegetable oil into her gas tank.

Want to know about some of the other great alternative uses?

Elaine uses instant mashed potato flakes to keep gophers away from her house. Alt Use also suggests using orange peels to keep ants and termites away, old apples to keep veggies fresh longer and crushed aspirin mixed with water to treat bee stings.

A lot of people think of vodka as an alcoholic beverage, but not Elaine. In fact, she says that you can use it to clean your eye glasses.

"You can also use vodka to keep your cut flowers fresh," Elaine added.

"Because you have a pantry full of items, you can take those items and enter them into our Web site AltUse.com, and we can give you other ways of using those products, other than the way you normally think of using them," said Goldfarb.

Even Elaine's children are learning about alternative ways to use products. Her daughter, Echo gets a regular treatment of olive oil for her dry skin.

And her son, Tiber uses food product Styrofoam trays to make ink stamps for his class projects.


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