Sustainable Life Hacks: Reusing Rubber Bands

EDITOR’S NOTE: Water cooler conversations at Green Mountain Energy often center on sustainability and conservation. This blog series features some of our best ideas, or “life hacks,” to help you manage your daily activities more efficiently.

Almost every morning on my way to work, I stop by my local grocery store to pick up breakfast and lunch. They use compostable containers for items from their hot bar, which is where I usually grab scrambled eggs and salad (in separate containers) to-go. When I’m done with those containers and their contents, it’s easy for me to toss them in the compost bin at work.

Recently, my cashier started using rubber bands to seal my compostable containers to make sure the contents didn’t spill out en route. I appreciated the sentiment, but I also wondered: How can I properly discard these rubber bands?

Are Rubber Bands Recyclable?

While rubber can be recycled (see: earth911.com), it’s a bit more complicated than tossing it into your average recycling bin. There’s actually a specific, separate process for rubber recycling.

Are rubber bands compostable? Technically, yes! Rubber comes from the sap of a rubber tree, and the rule with composting is: If it once was alive, it can be composted. However, rubber takes a long time to break down or biodegrade, so it’s best to reuse rubber bands rather than toss them in the compost bin.Soap Dispenser

Ways To Repurpose Rubber Bands

If you’re like me, you have a drawer of rubber bands just waiting to be used. Here are some ideas to kick-start your creativity and put those old rubber bands to good use outside the landfill:

  • Wrap a rubber band around the neck of a soap dispenser, under the output spout. This will limit the amount of soap dispensed from the bottle, resulting in less waste of soap. (I tried this one, and it helped my soap dispenser last twice as long!
  • Donate rubber bands to a school. Schools, whether elementary or high school, are always in need of supplies, used or new. Aggregate your rubber bands then send them off at the next school supply drive.
  • Wrap the band around stubborn jar lids to make them easier to grip and open.
  • Re-seal your cereal or chip bags with a rubber band to keep them fresh after opening!
  • Use a rubber band to tie up long cords on cell phone chargers or hair dryers when you’re traveling (or even when you’re not). Saves spaces and prevents tangling!
    [Some tips sourced from eHow.com]

Are you using rubber bands in a creative way? Share your tips below!