Here is an unlikely green tip – reusing those silica gel packets found in the packaging of some processed foods, particularly organic ones, vitamin bottles, shoes, and electronics used to absorb moisture. What you say? Why not simply throw them away? They certainly don’t take up much space in the landfill! If you think about the number of silica packets in your packaging, however, multiplied by all the packaging used around the world, then it’s a different story.
Silicia is an important drying agent where excessive moisture could encourage the growth of mold and spoilage. Excess moisture can also damage electronics or break down the chemicals in vitamins. Silica is usually non-toxic to humans, pets and the environment. Some forms of silica gel have been proven to cause cancer in laboratory settings however, specifically the blue ones that contain the chemical cobalt chloride, often added to indicate the presence of humidity. The Tyvek packet that the silica is often encased in is made from high-density plastic that won’t tear or break and even keeps the smallest particulates from entering the packet. While that is a really good thing, it is not biodegradable.
So, what do you do with all those packets? You use your imagination and reuse them to help preserve other things in your house. For example, I tape one on the lid of my 50-pound tin of dog food to keep it fresh. Other suggestions? Put some in a box of old photos or important papers to keep them from molding. Put some in your jewelry box or in with your flatware to help keep them from tarnishing so quickly. Add them to your seed packets and seed jars you are storing for planting next year to keep them mold and moisture free. And, you can use the packets over and over – simply "reactivate" them by placing them in a warm oven (176-200 degrees) for 15 minutes.
Reusing silica gel packets, now that’s a good eco-citizen!
Happy Labor Day, readers! Make it an eco-safe holiday this year. Click here for ideas….
Information compiled from Natural Health, September/October 2012, “Ask the Experts” by Mike Yukizky, public health education manager, North Texas Poison Center and www.ehow.com.
For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.