Using What We Already Have

Take a moment and look around your house or even the room you are in. What do you see? The obvious answer will range anywhere from a chair to a soccer bag to a candle. But look closer at the little things. How can we take what we already have and make it go further? The ways in which we can do this are often simple but not always so subtle.We are all familiar with the 5 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recyle, Refuse and Repair. This article is about what should be the 6th R-Retain. Retain, meaning taking what we already have and getting more out of it. Here are 3 ways from when you get up in morning, while you are at work and when you arrive home. 


ToothpasteWhen is the last time you “borrowed” a friend’s tube of toothpaste? I know, never so we can go ahead with our first tip. Most people only use their own tube of toothpaste. A regular tube can last quite a while but there is a way to make it last even longer. Most people will finish a tube and squeeze out what ever last bits they can. But why end there. Cut the end of the tube and look inside. There is still enough in there to keep you going for at least another week. Retain what you have.

Use Both Sides

DocumentsWe have all heard the expression “there are two sides to every story”. There are two sides to every sheet, as well, which can literally hold its own story. I cringe when I look around the office and nearly every sheet of paper I see has an empty back. Surely, there must be something the back of that sheet could be used for. To add further insult to injury, if you look closer at what was printed on the sheet, it’s often a personal use document, only used for personal reference. If the quality of the sheet is still good enough that it won’t jam the printer, find a use for the back. Most sheets, if flat, will fit just fine into the machine. A little change in our habits is all we need. Retain what you have.

Garbage Bags

Potato Chip BagEvery garbage bag you throw away costs you money. The more we can put in those bags, the fewer we have to buy. This tip may take a little while to adjust to because it involves a change in you habits, but nonetheless a simple one.
For example, a bag of chips. Chip bags are not recyclable, as are most plastic bags of this type. This means we have two choices; throw the bag away or don’t buy them. But what kind of life would it be without potato chips! So, I guess we are throwing them out. The problem is the nature of the material causes them to expand and take up space (volumn) and air can get trapped in those spaces further increasing the size taken up. This is where the change in habit comes in. Keep a small pair of scissors near the garbage bin and every time you throw away a chip bag(or any non-recyclable bag), flatten it out and cut it up into strips. This will allow the other things you throw away to slide in around, and through the plastics strips you’ve created, increasing the area available in your garbage bag.

If We Have It, Use It Longer

Getting more in life doesn’t always mean accumulating more. Unfortunately, with the wealth of things available for us to purchase in our modern economy, we often fall into this trap. These are just a few of the many ways we can get more with less. Retain what you have and make it go further. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.