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Do just one thing

By Danny Seo


Cardboard and paperboard boxes from items you purchase can be saved and reused for gift wrapping later in the year. They can be recycled, too. Just be sure to do one thing before dropping off the flattened boxes at your recycling center: Remove the plastic “windows” that they may contain. These can be easily peeled off from the inside of the box and tossed away in the trash. Leaving any plastic film on boxes can muck up the recycling process and render a whole load of recyclable cardboard useless.


While many vegetable gardens will be reaching the end of their productive cycle soon, that doesn’t mean you should till all of the flowers, herbs and nonproductive vegetable plants back into the earth right away. This is a good time to let things go to seed or continue to bloom. Excess crops can become feed for wild animals, flowers are perfect for bees to forage for pollen and nectar, and seeds are vital food for birds.


Many healthy versions of flours keep the bran intact in the finished product, which makes it more nutritious but shortens the shelf life of the flour. One way to extend the shelf life is to transfer the flour to an airtight container and store it in your freezer. Don’t worry: It won’t freeze into a solid block; in fact, it’ll just be cold flour when you scoop it out. And freezing means the flour can stay fresh for months, or even years. If you’d rather not store your flour in the freezer, be sure to keep it in a cool, dark place.


On average, about 675 pieces of unwanted junk mail end up in our mailboxes every year. If you want to put an end to the madness, try these easy steps. First, if you move, don’t use a change of address form from the post office; instead, directly contact everyone yourself to give them your new address. Avoid participating in contests that require your address for entry, unless you can opt out of any future solicitations. And contact the top three credit bureaus – Trans Union, Equifax and Experian – and ask them to remove you from any unsolicited credit card offer lists. These three steps should help to significantly reduce the amount of junk mail coming to your home.


No room to compost? Even if you have a very small yard, you can still help divert organic matter from the landfill. Just put small pieces of vegetable and fruit peels and skins into a blender and puree with water until it becomes a liquid, slushy mixture. Then dig a small hole in the yard (or even a large potted plant) and pour the nutrient-dense mixture into the hole. Cover with soil, and the mixture will deliver all the benefits of compost to plants – without attracting pests.


Greasy pizza boxes and dirty glass jars are contaminated recyclables that can ruin an entire load of usable material, and they should never be thrown into your recycle bin. These items actually do more than potentially send good, clean recyclables to the landfill; they cost the industry money. It’s believed the contamination of recyclable materials costs the industry just under a billion dollars per year. These costs could potentially result in fewer places to take our recyclables. To help, make sure you only put clean recyclables into your bin. And the rule really is true: When in doubt, toss it out.