Since the introduction of the EPA’s Reduce, Reuse, Recycle campaign, many have adopted recyclable waste management systems, are remembering to bring reusable bags on their grocery trips as more cities adopt plastic bag bans, and are becoming aware of their own ecological footprint. But as this great Footprint Calculator released by the Earth Day Network shows, we can always do more to consume less. Plus, by re-using items in your home, you’ll save money. Here are 10 home items you can save from the trash and instill with new life and purpose many times over:
1. Glass Jars, Containers, or Cans
Glass and metal are easily recycled, but why not cut down on excess packaging and waste by reusing them? Glass jars and old coffee canisters make great containers for bulk pantry items, desk organizers, or bathroom containers. And there are a million ways to reuse mason jars beyond food canning — even many pasta sauce brands use jars that are ideal for food preservation. Got a lot of leftover narrow-necked beer bottles? Make them into a set of drinking glasses! Or how about a wine rack, or display shelves out of coffee cans?
2. Gallon Jugs, Plastic Soda Bottles, Takeout and Other Plastic Containers
Beyond using jugs and bottles to store homemade natural cleaners, with a little modification, you can turn those plastic containers into useful household items like this plastic bottle broom! Make bird feeders out of old soda bottles, food bins, shoe cubbies and dustpans/scoops out of plastic jugs. How about making reusable self-watering seed pots or a cell charging station out of a shampoo bottle? And don’t throw out the takeout containers! Many are sturdy, dishwasher safe, and excellent for reuse in the kitchen.
3. Newspapers, Magazines, and Paper Bags
Overrun by paper? There are lots of great ways to re-purpose all the paper in your life. Get creative and create amazing and useful woven baskets and trays out of magazines and newspapers. Recycle newspapers, grocery bags, and magazines as wrapping paper. How about some compostable seed pots? Or DIY envelopes out of outdated calendar pages? And if you’re really ambitious, make a gorgeous wood-like flooring with paper bags.
4. Clothes, Towels, and Bedding
Don’t toss out old towels, clothes, and bedding! Cut them up into washable cleaning rags! Or check out these excellent Pinterest ideas for ways to upcycle old clothes into new ones! Why not turn those torn t-shirts into beautiful braided rugs? If you’ve got sewing skills, turn old flannels into reusable dusters.
At the end of the growing season, let a couple of your veggies and flowers go to seed, collect the seeds and save them for next season for free! Here’s everything you need to know about harvesting and saving seeds to reuse again and again!
6. Laundry Waste
If you use them, don’t toss out those old dryer sheets! They make excellent dusting rags, especially for sucking up pet hair. They work great for scrubbing off soap scum and polishing chrome too! You can even make them into a dress if you’re really determined. Collect the lint from the dryer to make recycled paper or paper mache’, or even compostable seed pots.
7. Plastic Bags
When the box of cereal is empty, save the inner bag, wash, dry, and cut to wrap sandwiches. Plastic bags can be used as pet waste bags or trash bins, or you can reuse them at the grocery store. Better yet, upcycle those plastic bags into nice-looking, sturdy reusable grocery totes!
8. Bathroom Items
Save old toothbrushes to scrub hard-to-reach places, like grout and underneath the fixtures on faucets. Or clean old toothbrushes and reuse them as eyebrow brushes, hair color applicators, or for cleaning tools, electronics, or other delicate or hard-to-clean items. Empty toothpaste tubes can be re-purposed as a funnel by cutting off the bottom, or as a frosting tube for icing cakes. Empty deodorant bottles are perfect for refilling with this DIY Deodorant Recipe!
9. Broken Dishes
Collect broken china to re-tile outdoor tables, flower pots, paths, or as a unique border for your garden. Use broken china to make a key fob or jewelry. Plant small plants in old stained coffee mugs.
10. Old Furniture
Refinish or repair rather than tossing old furniture. Re-purpose broken furniture or disassemble and reuse the wood. Hang drawers on the wall to create shelves, shadowboxes, or bulletin boards.
With just a little ingenuity, you can cut down on your ecological footprint, save your pennies and re-purpose your trash! What clever home items can you think of to recycle and reuse?
Easy Ways to Help the Planet:
- Eat Less Meat: Download Food Monster, the largest plant-based recipe app on the App Store to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy. You can also buy a hard or soft copy of our favorite vegan cookbooks.
- Reduce Your Fast Fashion Footprint: Take initiative by standing up against fast fashion pollution and supporting sustainable and circular brands like Tiny Rescue that are raising awareness around important issues through recycled zero-waste clothing designed to be returned and remade over and over again.
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- Do What You Can: Reduce waste, plant trees, eat local, travel responsibly, reuse stuff, say no to single-use plastics, recycle, vote smart, switch to cold water laundry, divest from fossil fuels, save water, shop wisely, donate if you can, grow your own food, volunteer, conserve energy, compost, and don’t forget about the microplastics and microbeads lurking in common household and personal care products!