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DEAR READERS: We've become better at recycling, reusing and repurposing items, and keeping them out of the landfill, but we can do more.

Here are some eye-opening stats on the time it takes trash to decompose in the environment, according to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services website (

• Paper towel -- two to four weeks

• Plastic bag -- 10-20 years

• Aluminum can -- 80-200 years

• Disposable diaper -- 450 years

• Plastic bottle -- 450 years

• Glass bottle -- 1 million years

Plastic never fully breaks down; it just gets smaller and smaller, and it can always pose a threat to wildlife. This is especially true with the plastic six-ring holders for soft drinks and other items. Please, cut the rings before putting them in the recycle bin or trash.

DEAR HELOISE: During the winter months, I turn on my hot water first thing to brush my teeth. By the time I finish brushing, the water is warm enough to wash my face. I don't waste water.

-- Vicky C., Fargo, N.D.

DEAR HELOISE: I have a hard time swallowing pills. I've found that the use of a straw helps greatly. I put the pill in my mouth, suck up enough liquid to swallow, then do it. This makes it easier.

-- E.L.Y., Villa Park, Calif.

DEAR READER: Take a sip of water before taking the pill, then a big gulp after. An old hint is to use a spoonful of applesauce. Put the pill in the applesauce and then swallow it. This really makes the pill go down easier. Sit or stand up straight, too. If the pills are large, ask your doctor or pharmacist if they can be crushed or cut in half.

DEAR HELOISE: In a one-bedroom apartment, space is at a premium. I use a twin-sized bed, and this makes more room in the bedroom. I push the bed up against one wall, and it opens up the room.

-- Helga G. in New York

DEAR HELOISE: I buy pints of milk in glass bottles. Here are my hints for reusing them:

I fill one with sand and use it as a doorstop. I put a bit of sand in several, put the cap back on and use them as bowling pins for youngsters. Let kids decorate them for banks to encourage them to save money. I fill one with coins for a gift.

-- Frances H., Kane, Pa.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Weekend on 01/11/2018

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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