I grew up in a no-waste home. Bones were given to our dog Dusty, and our “compost” was a bucket filled with the wilted iceberg lettuce and corn cobs which we dumped into the lamb’s pen. Every stray branch was used as kindling for the fire. And newspapers with nearly completed crosswords were laid out and used for serving hot popcorn while we watched Jeopardy or Johnny Carson’s monologue.
Water is priceless in New Mexico. In the summertime, water drips from the side of my childhood home where the swamp cooler runs. Alongside the brick, my mom has nestled a small McCoy planter in the gravel to catch the water. This oasis serves as a resting spot for what might be the most robust toad in New Mexico. When the planter is filled, mom shares the water with her tomato plants and returns the toad’s tiny home to its spot to refill.
I’ve picked up a lot of these no-waste habits from my conscientious parents and yesterday found myself practicing another one of their tricks.
Here’s how it goes:
It may sound crazy, but I try to vacuum daily. We have two dogs. TWO. That’s one away from crazy. And, they are NOT the purebred, never shed, well-behaved type. They are the insanely lovable, loud, shed-like-crazy mutts that are so cute you can hardly stand it. So I vacuum and vacuum and then I do it one more time.
Yesterday I was about to go over the carpet and realize I had completely surpassed the mark on the vacuum bag that says DO NOT FILL OVER THIS LINE. The bag was so full, the vacuum itself felt significantly heavier. I glanced down at the carpet and saw mud from someone’s shoes they “forgot” to take off and spots where the dogs decided to roll so they could spread the dirt in the neglected areas.
Time to clean up the mess…
Unfortunately, I thought I was ahead of the game and gleefully opened the closet and saw every type of bag EXCEPT what I needed. Of course, I did the logical move and tried to force a Hoover bag into a Riccar vacuum. It didn’t work last time, but I had to try again.
In this case, one size did NOT fit all so I thought…what would mom and dad do?
Well, if they had not picked up extra Electrolux bags at Sears or the last yard sale they went to, it would be DIY time.
I reluctantly fished out the used vacuum bag I flippantly tossed in the trash barrel and knew what I HAD to do. With no time to go to the store or use Amazon, I pulled up my sleeves, stood over the trash bin and removed all the yuck (and one missing sock) from the bag. The garage looked like a scene from the Grapes of Wrath.
After emptying the bag (and dusting myself off), I finished my job and marveled at how well the vacuum worked with the “new” bag.
My parents continue to teach me so much about reusing, recycling, saving, and being a smart consumer. From watching This Old House with dad growing up or using YouTube now, I am convinced DIY jobs are worth a try and recycling is ALWAYS the right thing to do.
I know this vacuum hack produces a lot of dust, but I saved a few dollars, found a sock and saved one more bag from going into a landfill.
Do you have any clever recycling/reusing tips? Please share in the comments below.
Thanks for reading 🙂
I later researched a clever way to empty and reuse vacuum bags.
Here’s what I found:
To empty a vacuum bag multiple times here is a suggestion from the Do It Yourself Website.
- Get a strip of duct tape and tape it vertically along the back of the bag (the opposite side of where the bag opening is) that covers about 2/3 of the bag’s length. Cut a slit through the tape and through the bag, taking care not to cut all the way through to the other side of the bag. Leave about an inch or so at either end of the tape uncut. Empty out the bag.
- Cut another strip of duct tape long enough to cover the slit. Add another inch and fold over the end of the tape onto itself about ½ inch from the end. This will provide for a handy little non-sticking end that will make it easier to pull off. Affix this new strip of tape over the slit.
- Replace the bag in the vacuum. Next time you have to empty the bag, merely peel off the top strip (using the end that has that neat little handle) and empty out the contents.