Introducing “Ask Recyclin’ Sue”

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(April 6, 2018)   During GGWC’s 2018 Annual Meeting back in January, attendees were challenged to consider the many ways in which their daily actions affect the health of our watershed. We discussed everything from turning off the water when you brush your teeth to getting to know your local farmers to participating in local river clean-up events. Long-time GGWC Board member, Susan Duncan introduced the idea of  re-use recycling (aka upcycling).  As Susan says, “In Nature, there is no trash.  Everything gets re-used in place.  Everything is a resource that is actively re-incorporated into natural systems. Re-use makes sense and cents. It’s bio-mimicry! The more we re-use things, the more like natural systems our lifestyles become. Re-use of found objects delays storage in a landfill or exploitation of new raw materials – less environmental damage, longer landfill life. Try it!”

We invite you to send in your reuse/recycling/upcycling questions. Sue will answer.  Or share your ideas/experiments with re-use of found materials. Send your questions/comments to

Our first question comes from Pete: What can you do with pickle juice?

Sue Says: The cucumber pickles were good. Why not add some more sliced cucumbers to the brine and dill and let them soak? Try some other vegetables. Sliced raw zucchini or yellow squash can substitute for cucumbers. Try whatever you have: thin sliced carrots, radishes, onions, cauliflower, green pepper.  Green beans – defrosted frozen or lightly cooked – become dilly beans in dill pickle juice. For pickled beets, add cooked sliced beets or canned beets (well rinsed and drained) in pickle juice. The taste will be milder the second time around. Pickled vegetables are a staple of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. It’s a good way to preserve the “last of the garden” vegetables in a refrigerator pickle.  Google:  Pickle recipes –  Chowchow, piccalilli, rummage pickle, and dilly beans.

(Note from the Editor: In addition to Susan’s excellent pickle juice ideas, I have a friend who’s been known to chug pickle juice from the jar before mountain biking. He swears by it as a natural alternative to sports drinks. Also, search online for pickle juice uses in the garden or in your compost pile, the sky’s the limit!)

Use it up. Make it do. Re-invent It. Make it New!

About Recyclin’ Sue

Susan Duncan has experimented with “found” materials for 40 years. Building a farm from scratch is capital intensive. Cash has to be reserved for those things you cannot make. Everything that came into the house had to be used at least twice. Her degree in natural resource management (Forestry) morphed into Home Economics. Re-use evolved into an integrated system with environmental roots. In the 1990’s, Sue’s educational business “Resource-full Recycling” shared what she had learned: at  recycling festivals, the Gallatin County Fair, a large exhibit in Bozeman, presentations to groups, and workshops at the Annual MEA/AFT teacher’s conventions 1995-2003.

Susan is an award winning recycler, receiving an award from the Montana Environmental Education Association for taking a program on tour to Dillon and Wisdom and the Postmaster General’s Club Award from the US Post Office (her employer at the time)  recognizing her recycling efforts in the community.