10 Everyday Items that Can Be Reused or Repurposed
By Joan Whetzel
Every time a bottle or box gets emptied, it becomes another excuse to add to our nation's landfills. Every time a home improvement project is completed, what happens to the extra supplies that weren't used? They either get thrown away or they sit in the garage, basement or attic collecting dust. Why not repurpose some of these items?
1. Liquid Softener Bottles
My daughter's kindergarten teacher collected empty liquid fabric softener bottles and Woolite® bottles for mixing and storing tempera paints. The color stored in each bottle was labeled on the outside using masking tape and permanent markers. It allowed the teacher to mix large amounts at one time. All of the kindergarten teachers shared the tempera paint bottles, so they came in handy.
2. Baby Food Jars
Baby food jars,especially the large ones, are great for storing small parts (screws, nuts, electronic parts) when a construction or electronics job is finished. They also serve well for storing buttons that are left on the button card when a sewing or mending project is completed. Because the jars are clear it is immediately evident what you have, without having to open the jar. The next time you need a screw and nut to finish building something, the next time you need to replace a shirt button, you know right where to go. This may well eliminate a trip to the hardware or fabric store.
3. Concrete Blocks
Many people have usedconcrete blocks for projects from building decks to retaining walls. It's not inconceivable that extra blocks may have been ordered in case some of the blocks were accidentally broken. So what can you do with the extra blocks? Combine them with 2 inch thick by 12 inch wide lumber "shelves" in 4 to 6 feet lengths to from a 60s style bookcase. They make great sturdy shelving for just about anything - books, tools, Christmas decorations. The cinder block holes become cubbyhole storage for smaller items. Both the cinder blocks and the shelves can be spray painted too.
4. Cardboard Boxes
How many times have you ordered something that was shipped to you in a brown, corrugated cardboard box? Before tossing it out in the trash, consider what events you have coming up that may require a wrapped present - especially oddly shaped presents that are difficult to disguise. How many packages will you need to mail in the near future? Save those boxes for future your wrapping and reshipping needs.
5. Fabric Scraps
For all those sewers out there, save your fabric scraps - as long as they are in usable sized chunks. They can be turned into fabric scrap rugs or used as trim work and appliqués for garments and crafts.
6. Yarn Scraps
For the people who love to knit or crochet, you know that most projects tend to have a small amount of yarn leftover at the end of a project. Instead of throwing those little balls of yarn away, save them to make a granny square afghan. Or, find some other craft project that require a scrap of yarn for a hanger or for decoration. Use them to hang pine cones on your Christmas tree or to hang a peanut butter - birdseed - pinecone bird feeder outside.
7. Metal Coffee Cans
Coffee doesn't come in cans much anymore, but for those who still find them at the grocery store, save the cans for storage. They're great for storing medium sized items like seashells and medium sized hardware items. They are also great for tossing in that few dollars you saved at the grocery store or lotto scratch off ticket winnings. Every time you have saved, won or found an extra dollar or two, stuff it in the coffee can. Because you can't see into the can, it makes it easy to tuck the money in there and forget about it. When the can gets full, count up how much you've saved. Then you can either put into the bank and let it collect interest or plan a nice evening out for your family, or buy Christmas presents.
8. Glass Mayo / Condiment Jars
Glass jars from mayonnaise or other condiments are see through versions of the coffee can trick. They are great for tossing in coins, saving dried herbs, storing small to moderate sized hardware or for saving those treasures that you like to look at from time to time - marbles, seashells, pretty rocks.
9. Margarine Tubs
Margarine tubs - those plastic, re-sealable containers - are another version of the glass jar and coffee can storage for small parts and buttons. They also work well for craft parts and pieces. Simply label the tubs with masking tape and listing the contents with permanent maker. These containers also make good leftover containers. Again label them with masking tape and permanent maker, making sure to include the date that the food was stored.
10. Floor and Backsplash Tiles
Some floor and backsplash tiles work better than others for this repurposing project. Use the 4 to 6 inch tiles to create coasters. The tiles that work best for this are shale-like because they will absorb the moisture from sweating glasses (caused by ice). Simply add for adhesive rubber feet from the hardware store to the bottom of each tile. For the 12 to 16 inch floor tiles, add adhesive rubber feet to the bottom to create trivets for a table or buffet. Marble and granite tiles work great for this because they can stand up to hot dishes. To hide the rough edges, either glue some sort of edging (tile, wood, fabric store trim) around the edges or wind some greenery or other decorations around the trivets.
There are many other ideas for re-purposing items that I am sure I have overlooked. If you can think of anymore feel free to share your ideas with me. I love hearing about these things.