Recycling Aluminium

Don't Throw Things Out - Recycle

There are many items which continually find their way into a home and are then thrown out. Aluminium products are an example. While in most areas aluminium can be placed in a recycling bin somewhere, there are also ways of utilising aluminium in the home.

Aluminium cans have a few uses for keen gardeners. With the top and bottom removed they can be pushed into the ground to make a collar to protect sensitive seedlings from grubs such as cutworms. Bigger tins such as soup cans or coffee tins can be used for bigger plants or even small trees.

Aluminium CansCredit: Wikimedia

Once the top and bottom are removed from a can the remaining aluminium can be flattened and cut to provide plant labels. Use a permanent marker to identify the colour of dahlias for instance or the types of vegetables in a vegie garden.

Large pots can become very heavy to move and all that expensive potting mix may not be utilised if a large pot is filled with small, shallow-rooted plants. Fill the bottom section of the pot with empty aluminium cans. Place them upside down in the base of the pot filling the bottom quarter to half. Fill with soil and plant as usual. The rust-proof cans will also ensure adequate drainage.

Christmas decorations can be made when the ends are removed from a can and the side slit to give a flat sheet. Cut out simple shapes, decorate with glass paint or stick on anything sparkly and add a string for hanging to the tree.

There are also myriad uses for aluminium foil trays.

Foil trays come free under foodstuffs or from the delicatessen section of your supermarket. Rinse and let dry then stack for future use. Children and grand-children will find many uses for the trays as craft items and as the trays haven't cost anything, it doesn't really matter how many they use.

One idea for a winter activity is to let the children arrange small articles on the tray. Pretty leaves, dried flowers, shells, seed cases, twigs – it doesn't matter what really. Then fill the tray almost to the top. Fold a shoelace in half (or piece of string about the same length) and place the two ends in the centre of the tray, leaving the fold outside the tray. If it's below freezing outside simply place the tray outside to freeze. Otherwise it can be placed in the fridge. Once frozen solid, slide the artwork off the tray and hang in a conspicuous place outside.

While on the subject of kids, trays make good containers for holding craft supplies such as beads, buttons, sequins, pipe-cleaners, etc. At the end of a craft session, place each tray with its contents into a zip-lock plastic bag ready for next time.

When cooking marshmallows or toast over an open fire, make a hole in the centre to take the skewer. The foil will deflect the heat protecting children's a (and adults') hands.

A tray makes a good cover when frying. Punch a few holes in the base of the tray and place over the food to prevent spattering of fat or oil. Don't forget to wear mitts. Use a pair of tongs to lift the tray when necessary. A tray can also be used as an emergency colander. Perhaps you only have a large colander but on this particular occasion you only have a small amount to drain. Poke holes in the base of the tray, rinse then fold the edges over a basin and carefully pour in the material to be strained.

If you want an eye-catching centrepiece for your table, fix a small candle or several tea-lights to an aluminium tray. Do this by pouring a small amount of melted wax onto the tray and pushing the candles into the wax. Now decorate around the candles with rose petals, shells or decorative leaves. You can use sand or water as a base if you want to.

String a few trays together to hang in fruit trees if you are having trouble with birds and possums stealing your fruit. It is probably most effective to tie the string horizontally and let the trays move back and forth along the string with the wind. The shiny surfaces and the noise will help deter the birds.

Trays make great emergency ashtrays and, cut in half, dustpans.

Because aluminium trays are highly resistant to corrosion, they make good storage containers in the workshop. Store grinding discs, hacksaw blades and similar items in the trays. With a little ingenuity they can be fixed to a wall or pegboard thus taking up less space.

These are only a few of the uses for aluminium cans and trays. Aluminium foil has even more uses so it pays to ensure you always have some of each in your kitchen cupboard.