I'm giving up my beloved apartment next month, moving to a yet-to-be-determined new space (more on that later). Long store short: cue the decluttering. It's well-known that the question "Do I want to have to move this?" is a kick in the pants like no other, so with that in mind, I've been taking some time to clear out the backs of drawers, cull my closet a bit, and just generally pare down things not worth bringing to my next home.
Which brings me to rubber bands. As a child, rubber bands were a treasure, a step on the road to fulfilling dreams of making a record-breaking-sized rubber band ball. As an adult, I've found them both completely useful and then completely useless. Essential for holding together the bundle of kale I pick up at the grocery... and then what? I don't buy much packaged food any more, so their kitchen utility has plummeted to nil. Nor, of course, can I throw them away. Instead, they accumulate in the back of my silverware drawer in a brightly-colored heap, until something like an impending move spurs me to action.
Except for the fact that they land in a pile unused, the rubber bands that come home with me on greens and herbs and other things are fairly harmless. They're smaller than the plastic twist-tie with a plastic tag that bundles up some leafy greens, and more useful, too. Still, what is a zero waste blog if not an esoteric deep-dive into ways to avoid making trash out of small, daily types of items?
The only way to truly avoid the rubber bands that come on grocery goods is, I think, to shop at a farmers' market and ask the farmer right then and there if you can take the band off and give it back to them for reuse. During a Midwest winter, this isn't a method that I can wholly rely on: hence, they pile up.
Yesterday, I gathered up all that I could find and plopped them in a glass jar, ready to be donated. In that spirit, I thought it might be helpful to share my ideas for where to take them to be reused. Mostly, I just wanted to hear what you have to say on what you do with yours, too.
A few ideas for where to take them:
-Ask around at the farmers' market. My local farmers' market is incredibly busy on weekends, so I haven't mustered up the courage to corner someone at one of the vegetable stands to ask if they could use a jar of reused rubber bands. I tend to wonder if their packing operations rely on having ones of only a similar size and shape, at any rate. If I don't return the band on the spot, chances are I won't bring it back to the market. But I applaud any of you who do!
-Stock your office supply cupboard. This is what I used to do with mine, but I was skeptical if they would actually end up getting reused. What do people do with rubber bands in an office setting, truly? And will they pick through the rubber band box to find the ones not printed with the word "kale" on them? Assuming so, I cast about for a different solution.
-Give 'em to a creative reuse center. Also known as secondhand craft supply stores, these spots specifically accept donations of used school, art, and office supplies. People can then come buy the supplies they need, like picking up a jar of secondhand rubber bands rather than purchasing a brand-new bag of them at an office supply store. My local spot here in Chicago is where I'll be taking this jar of rubber bands later this week.
-Find a school classroom in need of them. This is where I wanted to hear from you: any teachers out there able to chime in? Are rubber bands something you use in art projects or other school work? Are donations helpful, or are they not needed? I'd love to hear.
More ideas for using up or passing along rubber bands? Do you collect yours? What do you do with them?