Rubber bands come wrapped around your fresh vegetables and herbs, both your morning and evening newspapers, and the stems of your arranged flowers. You eventually let them take control of your junk drawer and then, failing to find use for them, throw them in the garbage. About three quarters of the rubber currently in production is derived from crude oil; the process for which requires the highly produced petroleum byproducts butadiene and styrene. Because there's only one kind of natural rubber that's obtained via tapping instead of oil drilling, and because the rubber plant only thrives in humid regions, 90 percent of true rubber production occurs in Southeast Asian countries. The ecological impact of these stretchy little loops is pretty significant, but failing to put them to further use might just be negatively affecting your own carbon footprint. Here are just a few of the ways our ChasingGreen readers can put their rubber bands to further use.
HOW TO UPCYCLE YOUR RUBBER BANDS
Grip Bottle Caps: Twist-off beer and soda caps are difficult for some of us, what with the sharp little crimps digging into our palms and all. The solution for this is simply to wrap the bottle top in a rubber band. This trick also works great for smooth, tough-to-grip bottle tops as well.
Grip Drinking Glasses: If you have arthritis, grasping drinking glasses securely, especially when they're wet with condensation, might be difficult. You can grip easier if you simply wrap a couple of rubber bands around the glass. This also works great for kids with slippery hands.
Anchor your Cutting Board: If your cutting board tends to slide and move across your countertop whilst you're chopping up veggies, just put a rubber band around each end for traction.
Secure Lids: Bakeware dishes come with lids that are great for covering food when it's stationary, such as in the fridge or on the countertop, but not so much when you're transporting a dish in the car or by foot. The next time your casserole dish needs to be mobile, maybe you're giving leftovers to a friend or bringing an entrée to a party, secure the lid to the base with a couple of wide rubber bands.
Reshape a Broom: When your broom's bristles have become splayed with use, just wrap a rubber band around the broom a few inches from the bottom, and leave it for a day or so to get the bristles back in line.
Childproof Cabinets: Uh-oh! Your niece and nephew are coming over for a visit! How do you keep them out of your bathroom and kitchen cabinets? Temporarily childproof them by wrapping rubber bands tightly around pairs of handles.
Keep Thread from Tangling: Tangled thread in a sewing box can take a lot of time from a project. To prevent having to unknot and disentangle thread each time you want to sew, just wrap rubber bands around the spools so they don't ravel and tangle in the first place.
Make a Car Visor Holder: Snap a couple rubber bands around the sun visor of your car.
Now you have a handy spot to slip toll receipts, directions, a CD or two, important business cards, and maybe even a pair of sunglasses.
Thumb through Papers: Gross! Stop licking your finger to shuffle through papers! Just wrap a rubber band around your index finger a few times to thumb through papers and book pages with ease.
Extend a Button: Have your pants gotten too tight all the sudden and you don't have time to get new ones or lose weight? Stick a small rubber band through the buttonhole, and then loop the ends over the button. You should be breathing easier right about now.
Use as a Bookmark: Wrap a rubber band from the top to bottom around the part of the book you've already read. Now, unlike paper bookmarks that slip out of books, you won't lose your place, even if you drop the book.
Cushion your Remote Control: Protect fine furniture from scratches and nicks caused by television remote controls by wrapping a wide rubber band around both ends of the remote. This will also protect the remote from sliding off of surfaces and getting damaged.
Secure Bed Slats: If the slats under your mattress tend to slip out on occasion, just wrap rubber bands around their ends to make them stay in place.
Tighten Furniture Casters: To tighten furniture leg casters that have become loose with wear, wrap a rubber band around the stem and reinsert.
Gauge your Liquids: Snap a rubber band around the liquid containers in your workshop to indicate how much is left and you'll always be able to tell with just a glance.
Wipe your Paintbrush: Every time you dip your paintbrush, you wipe the excess against the side of the can, which eventually causes paint to drip off the can and make a mess. You can avoid this process by wrapping a rubber band around the paint can from top to bottom, going across the middle of the can opening. When you dip your brush, you can just tap it against the rubber band and the excess paint will fall back into the can.
Identify Guests' Cups: Use a Sharpie marker and write the names of your guests on their cups so they can use the same ones for the whole party, which will cut down on the amount of plastic you go through. If you're going the eco-friendly way and put out glasses instead of cups, placing rubber bands with guests' names around them will also cut down on the amount of dishes you have to wash at the end of the night.
Quiet Wind Chimes: When you know a storm is coming and you don't want your wind chimes knocking together for the duration and keeping you awake, take a rubber band and run it around the chimes from the bottom up to secure them to the clangor. Just take the rubber band off after the storm ceases.
Secure Bags: You don't need to buy a special plastic clip to secure bags of chips or cookies. Fold the top of the bag over several times and then put a rubber band around the bag lengthwise. The rubber band will hold everything in place and keep the contents fresher longer.
Tie a Ponytail: I know what you're thinking. Ouch, right? But in a real pinch, like if you're at school and need to put your hair up to do a lab in biology, a rubber band can really be a life, or, hair saver.
Organize a Desk Drawer: Secure handfuls of pencils, pens, crayons, or whatever is rolling around in your desk drawer with rubber bands and then you'll have some semblance of organization.
Donate to Teachers: If your junk drawer is overflowing with more rubber bands than you know what to do with, donate them to classroom teachers who will use them for student art projects.
Donate to Delivery: The next time you get a newspaper that comes wrapped in a rubber band, ask the delivery person if you can give the rubber bands back. If they're poor paperboys who have to supply their own rubber bands, they'll more than likely be very appreciative. You should also ask your postman if you can take the rubber bands that come wrapped around parcels back to the post office.