I’m big on recycling, reusing and repurposing. I find ways to use everything I have. As a result, I’ve increased the content in my recycling and composting and cut back on my trash. On average, I’ll have one large bag of trash every two weeks. Cutting down on packaged items is one thing, but finding ways to use what’s normally thrown away is a whole other thing. Here are some of my favorites.
From cereal boxes to cardboard boxes, I use them all for storage. I cut cereal boxes in half from top to bottom and turn them on their sides. These are great for holding lids that are so often lost or that are too small for baskets. Milk crates, those made to hold four gallon size jugs, stack neatly in storage. Label the side and you’re good to go.
Ok, I don’t wear them often, but when I do, they always run. Rather than throwing them out, I use them for felting projects. They keep the yarns together for wool felting. (Perfect for felting your wool dryer balls!) I also store onions and potatoes in them. Drop one in the toe and tie a knot above it. Drop in another and tie above that one too. Continue until you run out of room. Then hang them in the kitchen or pantry. When you need one, cut it off. Then take the section you cut off and cut it into bands. Use these for ties, such as tying up tomato plants. (find pantyhose here)
3. Plant tops
This is one of my favorites. You can grow carrots, turnips and pineapples by using the tops. For root vegetables, soak the top in water a few days until you see roots. Plant as you would any transplant. For pineapples, try this old pineapple farmer trick. Cut the top off a pineapple and remove the flesh. Save this for #4. Peel off the first 2-3 layers of leaves from the bottom. You’ll see small squiggly fibers. These are roots. Take a short glass and fill almost to the top with water. Put your pineapple top in the glass. Be sure the bottom is in contact with the water. Leave in the water for a week or so. You should see roots starting to grow down from the top. If you don’t see roots within 2 weeks, toss it in the compost. Sometimes you get one that won’t work. When you get a nice thick root mass, plant it in a pot. You can leave it outside in the summer, but take it in when the night time temps drop to around 50°.
4. Pineapple skins
These are a great source of fruit acid. Freeze them and once or twice a week take a piece out. Rub the smooth side all over your face and let the juice sit for 15-30 minutes. Then rinse it off with cool water. The fruit acids act like a mild chemical peel and will soften and smooth your skin.
5. Fruit and vegetable scraps
When you’ve done all you can with your scraps, toss them in the blender with a bit of water. Once they are broken into small pieces, toss them in your compost. They’ll biodegrade much faster, giving you a quick compost.
6. Feed bags
I have chickens and two dogs. Between them and the wild birds, I end up with a lot of feed bags. If they are beat up, I use them to hold trash. If they still look good, I donate them to a local woman who makes them into purses and tote bags. (find feed bags here)
7. Fabric and yarn scraps
I either use these for stuffing if I’m filling something, or I set the smaller pieces out for the birds. They love the bright colors!
8. Yogurt containers
I love yogurt and usually buy the big tubs. I don’t make my own yet. If I do get the smaller containers, I use them for soap molds. As a soap maker, I look for molds wherever I can. These make a bar that fits nicely in your hand.
9. Vitamin and prescription bottles
While I don’t have many of these either, they make great containers for keeping seeds from year to year. (Glass ones are perfect for storing DIY products!)
10. Baby food jars
I don’t have kids, but a lot of my friends do. I use the jars for spices. The wide mouth makes it easy to get a measuring spoon into.
When my cotton sheets wear out, I use them for landscaping fabric. It works great for keeping the weeds down and biodegrades in a few years.
12. Water bottles
When I was not aware of the problems related to plastic water bottles, I bought bottled water in bulk. I saved the bottles to do something with later. Now I use them to mix and pour my tinctures and other solutions. I still don’t store them in the bottles, but to mix a batch and pour it is very easy.
From newspaper to typing paper, I use it all. Newspaper gets used as a base to cut soap on (with a clean paper over it) and to mix lye on. It can then be thrown out or composted. Typing paper gets used to cut soap on the back side.
14. Fabric bolts
Here’s one of my best secrets. I work part time in a fabric store. I bring home the shorter cardboard bolts that the fabric comes on. Then I have an old metal rack that chips had been sold on. These bolts fit nicely on the rack and can be set at any interval. I use this for curing my soaps, but it could be used for any kind of storage.
15. Broken coffee cups
If they are in really bad shape, I use the pieces in my fairy gardens. If not, they can be used for desktop storage, especially for pens and pencils.
Have you repurposed anything lately? Tell us about your projects.