Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Recycling

By Reena Nerbas

Pizza Box Plastic Insert

Dear Reena,

I have several pizza restaurants on speed dial and when the pizza arrives, it often has a little plastic white table looking item in the center of the pizza. Do you have any ideas as to how I can reuse these little pieces of plastic instead of throwing them out? Candace

Dear Candace,

I know exactly what you are talking about, reuse them to keep plastic wrap off a frosted cake or similar food item if you’re bringing it somewhere for a party and don’t want to transport a reusable food storage tub. Or use them for flower arranging, when using florist’s oasis (oasis is the green foamy stuff they use). Stick it to the bottom of your container and it will stop the oasis from slipping. Florists often sell these items for this use.

Additional Comment: Many people assume that pizza boxes are recyclable because they are made from corrugated cardboard. However, what makes parts of them non-recyclable is what comes inside them, specifically, the grease and cheese from pizza. Food is one of the worst contaminants in the paper recycling process. Grease from pizza boxes causes oil to form at the top of the slurry, and paper fibres cannot separate from oils during the pulping process. Essentially, this contaminant causes the entire batch to be ruined. The easiest remedy for this problem is to cut or tear out the soiled portions of your pizza boxes and garbage them.

Water from Dehumidifier

Dear Reena,

I have a dehumidifier in my basement that needs emptying every day during summer months. I’m wondering if this water is good for anything such as watering plants. Thank-you, Trevor

Dear Trevor,

Dehumidifier water should not be used as drinking water because it is classified as grey water which may contain traces of lead and other dangerous elements. However, there are a few interesting uses for dehumidifier water. Yes, you can use it to water the plants in your home and garden. Do not use this water on plants grown for consumption because of the risk of harmful contaminants. You can also use dehumidifier water to save on your water bill by pouring the water into your toilet tank until it is full after each flush.


Dear Reena,

I was recently married and now live in a small home. It is my goal to recycle but I am not clear on what is considered recyclable. Can you provide me with a list of items that may be recycled? Signed, Newly Wed and Clueless

Dear Newlywed,

Congratulations and good for you that you are taking steps to reduce your ecological footprint, check your local area for recycling guidelines. The following is a list of what may be recycled in most areas: Newspapers, aluminum food and drink containers, glass food and beverage containers, steel food and beverage containers, PET (#1 plastic) bottle, telephone books, magazines and catalogues, boxboard, juice boxes, gable top beverage containers, HDPE (#2 plastic) containers, #4, #5 and #7 plastics (Gee, can they make this number system more complicated please?). For more information about recycling in Manitoba contact:

Recycling Food Containers

Dear Reena,

Please tell me whether or not I can recycle food containers such as Kraft Dinner boxes and empty waffle boxes. They do have a recycling symbol on them which says, “Made from 100% recyclable material”. Does that mean they were recycled previously or does that mean they can be recycled? Thomas

Dear Reena,

If cardboard has a recycling symbol on it; add it to your blue box. Most cardboard can be recycled several times before the fibers become too weak to manufacture into a new product. Therefore, it is a good idea to recycle all of the cardboard items in your home that carry a recycling logo.

Additional Note: A good rule of thumb is to recycle according to the list above. Sometimes plastic grocery bags cannot be recycled but they can be re-used over and over again. If you have an abundance of plastic bags in your home, donate them to a second hand store instead of throwing them into the garbage.

Vinegar for Static Cling

QUESTION – One of your previous columns suggests switching to white vinegar to reduce static cling. I am not having much luck with dryer balls. I have two very hairy dogs; try as I might to clean off the hair before the washing machine, some ends up in the dryer. Fabric softener sheets still seem to work the best to get hair off the items, and onto the filter, but I would like to try an alternative. So, my question is, how do you put the vinegar in the dryer, or is it added to the wash rinse? I look forward to hearing from you. I enjoy your column very much and have received many useful tips. Kind regards, Candice

Dear Candice,

Add one half cup white vinegar to your wash load (not the dryer). Your clothes will not smell of vinegar and you will save yourself a pile of money as vinegar is cheap. Fabric softener sheets and liquid fabric softener do a wonderful job in clogging up the hoses in your washing machine. Vinegar on the other hand works to clean out your washing machine hoses and leaves everything fresh and static free. But don’t get your hopes too high, let’s face it as long as you have pets you will be in a constant fur battle. But another great tip is to lightly sponge your clothes with water before putting them into the washing machine, this helps to remove some of the fur. If you are desperate, purchase clothes that match the color of your dog, this will make pet hair much less obvious. Lastly, be sure to empty your lint trap after each use.

Fabulous Tip of the Week:

·      If you want to reuse a Styrofoam egg carton here’s a neat little trick. For young children who have class parties, fill each cup with Jell-O and refrigerate them until they are set. Kids can pop the Jell-O out and enjoy a yummy treat.

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Need a Presenter on the topic: Effective Speaking or The Power of Words? Check out: