Reusing materials is good for the planet, saves money, and protects human health. All these fantastic benefits in one fell swoop, but where's the connection? Step back to look at the big picture and you'll see how it helps.
Reusing Reduces Pollution
Every time you reuse something instead of buying something new, you eliminate all of the pollution created when something new is made and shipped to you. Reducing pollution means cleaner air to breathe, cleaner water to drink, and healthier people. Many new items also release chemical gases (that “new smell”) that can be bad for your health, especially if you have asthma or allergies. When you buy something used, it's often already “off-gassed” most of the worst chemicals. Can you think of things that have a strong “new smell”? New cars, PVC shower curtains, plastic toys, carpet, and many other products all off-gas chemicals when they are new. That is why people often complain of headaches and sore throats in a new house or new building.
Don't Abuse Reuse
Some things are not meant to be reused and can actually endanger people's health if they reuse them. In most cases, these items are plastics that are used for food and beverages. Plastics are generally made of oil and synthetic chemicals. If the plastic becomes worn from scratches or heat, some of the chemicals can be released into the beverage or food. Plastic water bottles shouldn't be reused for drinking water. They quickly break down and end up polluting whatever drink you've put into the bottle. A healthier option for both you and the Earth is to buy a water bottle that is meant to be reused, like a stainless steel one. They're more expensive, but they last for years. Over time you save money by not buying single-use plastic water bottles. If you do buy a plastic bottle of water, get creative and use it for a flower vase, a bird feeder, or a container for collections of rocks or marbles. You can also fill it with water and keep it in the freezer to use on bumps and sprains or to keep your food cool when you travel.
There are literally tons of old tires waiting to be reused, and they have found new lives as ground covering around playgrounds and crumb infill for artificial turf. Many people are excited that they can teach kids about reuse and protecting the environment while providing a durable, low-maintenance ground for playing on. However, the tires have ingredients that may be unsafe for children's health. In addition, on hot, sunny days the tire pieces can heat up and burn children playing on it.