Waste not, want not

Oily raggers are not the sort of people to let anything go to waste. It is no surprise that they have lots of ideas to make the most of what others throw out. Here are some suggestions for plastics, paper and tyres.

  • “Use the inside ‘plastic’ bags from cereal packets to wrap left-over food instead of grease-proof paper. I use it to wrap my lunch and it keeps it fresh. Just wipe and dry it each night.” – J.J.
  • “Paper towel cardboard rolls are a convenient and tidy way of storing plastic bags in your drawer. I just stuff the plastic bags in, and pull them out when needed.” – Anon.
  • There are lots of uses for newsprint.

o   One reader made an attractive lamp shade from a newspaper. The old shade had become tattered and untidy so he simply pasted newspaper pages around the frame. Having had a bad experience on the share market, he used a page showing a share market table. His friends joked that he had finally seen the light! You may want to use a page showing a moment of national pride – such as the All Blacks beating Australia in a test match … it would be a great conversation starter with your Australian mates!

o   Another idea is to use newsprint as wall paper. Just add paste and slap it up onto a wall in need of an otherwise expensive makeover. In the very least it will make for interesting reading – especially if it is wallpapering the little room!

  • “When planting my strawberries I give them a mulch of wet shredded paper from my shredding machine. It mats together nicely keeping light out to prevent the weeds and I have nice clean strawberries to eat. It breaks down eventually, feeding the worms and helping the soil.” – Canny Scot, Christchurch.
  • Another oily ragger turns newsprint to fertiliser by burning it in their fireplace. The mixture of wood and paper ash is then applied as potash to plants which make them stronger and healthier.
  • Instead of paying the tyre company to dump your worn tyres, turn them into something useful.

o   Rope a tyre to a tree for a child’s (vertical) swing; or better still, attach chain or rope to three equally spaced points on the side wall so it sits horizontally.

o   Paint a tyre and attach it to a wall then plant colourful flowers in the bottom to form a hanging basket with a difference.

o   Attach a whole lot of types together by their sides to form a climbing wall. Slice each one in half and bolt them together through the sidewall.

o   Or use them as edging in the garden. Plant some garden favourites like strawberries or herbs which can be neatly contained. They look really cool painted in different colours and make a great kid’s garden patch.

o   When staked car tyres can be used as a compost bin. Remove the layers as a green waste decays into rich garden soil.

  • There are lots of ways to use plastic drink bottles.

o   Remove the cap and cut the bottom off them to use as mini greenhouses for frost tender plants – or to protect young plants from slugs and snails.

o   In the summer when things get a bit dry, turn the mini greenhouses upside down and bury them next to new vegetable plants so the neck reaches below the root system to funnel the water down. The soil will retain moisture better and it will encourage the roots to go down.

o   Rather than buy packing, a reader from Hamilton recommends cutting the tops off two plastic soft drink bottles, one slightly larger than the other. Insert the items to be posted inside one of the containers and then push the two containers together to form a cylinder. It’s then ready to wrap and post.