Phillips: Ideas for going green in your life

Phillips: Ideas for going green in your life


March 12th, 2011 by Ellen Phillips in Business Around the Region

I've finally put together my "recycling" column, thanks to readers Beth Cook, Lana Freeland, Nan Haygood, Marsha Ortmeier, Carol Williams, and Carolyn Williams. Thanks, ladies, for some truly good-to-the-consumer ideas!

1. Toothbrushes: These make great scrubbing tools for hard-to-get areas, as well as a play toy for your kitty cat.

2. Toilet plungers: This ugly but necessary implement may need to perch in the bathroom. To make it more attractive and user-friendly, make a hole in an attractive shower cap (or use doilies) and slide to the bottom to cover the rubber portion. Then add toilet tissue rolls to cover up the stick. Voila, you've hidden the plunger and saved tissue storage.

3. Another use for an old dishwasher rack is to place it in a cabinet to store lids for pots and pans and/or skillet and frying pans.

4. Ever thought about using a broken clothes dryer? The top is great for working space in a sewing room. The inside may be utilized for either quilting supplies or finished/unfinished sewing projects.

5. Empty plastic shoe box: Use as an organizer in the refrigerator. Store smaller jars inside and don't worry about spills all over the shelves and washing the interior of the 'fridge.

6. Empty prescription bottles: Again, make a toy for your cat; place a coin or an old bell within, seal with a childproof lid, and Kitty will roll her new game to her heart's content. Another use for the larger bottles is to empty your pockets each night and deposit the day's coins. You'll save money in no time!

7. Filter pack coffee containers: Use these to store and mail homemade goodies (or even to keep in the refrigerator or freezer). Additionally use as storage in your pantry, such as for teabags, flour, sugar and so forth.

8. Dawn dishwashing liquid: Dawn isn't just for washing dishes; it's great grime getter-upper. For example, if your concrete driveway or garage floor has any automotive spills, squirt on some Dawn, let it stand for one day and then a little light scrubbing should make the concrete clean as a whistle.

9. Hand sanitizer: Not simply a hand cleaner, sanitizer also eliminates smelly hands. If you've handled onions, garlic, or any other stinky item, rub your hands with the sanitizer and any bad odors should disappear.

(Next week's column will continue more recycling ideas.)

Tax Tip: If your AGI (adjusted gross income) is $58K or less, use the IRS' Free File program at to file your income tax. Uncle Sam's software guides you through the process, puts your info on the correct form, and calculates for you. Then send your Free File off and stop worrying about your returns.

Editor's Note: Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. E-mail her at