Re-purpose and Recycle Household Items
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Re-purpose and Recycle Household Items

Ideas to re-purpose and recycle household items you might normally throw away.

Recycling has become the mantra of many environmental enthusiasts. By recycling metal, paper, glass and plastics, we can greatly reduce the impact we make on the planet. Many cities both large and small have even begun to incorporate recycling programs as part of their refuse collection. Recycling bins lining streets on “trash day” have become a common sight in America.

We may all feel better and maybe even a little Greener by our recycling efforts. But this activity still creates an impact on the environment. It is true that the energy used to manufacture items made from recycled materials is generally less than if it were made from “new” materials. However, when you consider the fuel for transportation, operating the sorting facilities and the processing of recycled materials to ready it for its next use, there is still an energy consumption associated with the recycling process. So though recycling is certainly a good idea for our little blue globe, there is an even better way to reduce the resources and energy used in manufacturing the things we use.

Popularly known as “repurposing”, the practice of retaining items that would typically be discarded and using them for purposes outside their original intended use, has been sweeping the nation. Spurred on by a weak economy, many people are finding that reusing items they would have once discarded has meant real savings.

There are some obvious ways to re-purpose that most of us can think of right away. Decorating a jar and using it as a pencil holder is a step in the right direction, but there is much more you can do. Here are some ideas how you can re-purpose things in your home, save yourself some money and help save the planet.

Glass Jars from spaghetti sauce, jelly or pickles.

  • Use for dry storage. Beans, pasta, rice and other dry items can be stored in these jars. Buy your dry goods in bulk (saves on packaging), and store those in jars. They look better in your cupboard or pantry and you can easily see what’s in them.
  • Use for leftovers. Instead of using plastic bags or plastic containers to store leftovers in, store them in a glass jar and refrigerate. Glass is BPA free, dishwasher safe and they can be reused indefinitely. If the lid becomes unusable, simply use cling wrap or wax paper with a rubber band around the top to seal in the freshness.

Glass baby food jars

  • Use them as plant starter containers or to grow fresh herbs in.
  • If you are on the go, these little jars are great to transport mustard, mayo, ketchup or salad dressing in. Just make sure the lid is on tight.

Wine bottles have a myriad of other uses once the vino is gone. Here are a couple of those ideas. What else can you think of?

  • During the holidays, lit bottle adds a festive touch to your home. Group a few bottles together of varying sizes, shapes and colors. Leave the labels on, it ads character to the arrangement. Use a string of Christmas lights and stuff them inside each of the bottles and plug them in. If you want to hide the wire, you can place artificial flowers or poinsettias in the bottles.
  • Make a tiki torch. This one is real easy and cheaper than buying new torches at the store. Most wine bottles have a mouth that is roughly ½ an inch in diameter. Go to the hardware department of your local store and get a roll of Teflon tape, a ½” diameter copper coupling, a tiki torch replacement wick and some tiki torch oil. Wrap the copper coupling with enough Teflon tape so that it fits snuggly into the mouth of the bottle. Thread the wick through the bottom of the copper coupling so that ½” or less protrudes from the top. Fill the bottle ½ full of tiki torch oil, then place the copper coupling with the Teflon tape wrapped around it into the mouth of the bottle. Now you have a new torch!

Tin cans can be used for more than pencil holders.

  • If you’re an outdoorsman or camper, a can could be used for a cooking pot. The large institutional sized cans work best for this.
  • Soup and vegetable cans can be used to grow starter plants or fresh herbs in.
  • Make a lantern or luminaries form old cans. Remove the paper label first. With a hammer and nail, punch holes in the can side to allow light through. Place a block of wood inside the can while punching hole to prevent the can from bending out of shape.
  • Ever thought of baking with cans? A friend who manages a major restaurant chain suggested to me that used cans are great to bake breads in.

Here are some other miscellaneous items that can be re-purposed in your home.

  • Toilet paper rolls can be used as a cord wrangler. Coil up a cord and slide the roll over it. Use a little fabric and spray adhesive to make it more durable and look better.
  • Plastic flowerpots are great as a rock salt sifter. Place a couple of small stones in the bottom of one pot then place another pot inside the first. Pour in your rock salt and you have a salt spreader.
  • Milk jugs can be used as a watering can by poking holes in the lid. Make sure the lid is the screw in type.
  • Diaper boxes are perfect as storage boxes. They are made of heavy cardboard, they are water resistant and also have handy carrying holes on the sides.
  • The top cut off of a 2-liter bottle makes a good funnel.
  • A square facial tissue box is perfect to store powdered drink mix packets, seasoning packets and other flat packet items.
  • Plastic bread tags can be used to keep track of spare keys. Write on the tag what they key is for and clip it to the key. You can also use these to wrangle small thin cords like the ones for phone chargers or headphones.

These are but a few ideas of how to re-purpose items you might normally just throw away. You may have other ideas or even recall some ways your Grandma used to reuse things. I encourage you to share your ideas with friends and family and help to make a healthier planet, not to mention saving them a few bucks.

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Comments (4)

Useful information. Recycling is one of the best thing we can do to preserve the environment.

Nice fact I practice some of these things mentioned. Thanks for the reminder of how important recycling is. Voted up!

Great advice, thanks.

Excellent article. G+1ed since I am out of votes today.