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Reusing and Re-purposing: Rethink the uses of these 10 common items

Updated on October 20, 2014
Kristine Manley profile image

Kris Manley is a blogger, author, and speaker. She's a guest on radio in the U.S., Canada, and overseas, as well as a guest on network TV.

I am always looking to see how I can re-use or re-purpose something before I throw it away. Recently I came across an idea which I implemented and helped me to not have to go out and buy something I thought I needed. Reusing and re-purposing is in style more than ever these days. Since it's just my Mom and me, we've decided to come up with a list of items within our home that we can reuse and re-purpose. So I encourage you to make reusing and re-purposing a family affair. Get the kids together, have a round table, and see who can come up with the longest list of household items to reuse and re-purpose. Kids, especially, think of neat ideas to reuse and re-purpose.

Here's a list of 10 items that I have reused and re-purposed.

1. Plastic bags from the grocery store. I could not tell you when the last time I bought garbage bags, except for the ones for my tall trash can. I have short wastepaper baskets in my bedrooms and bathrooms and all have plastic grocery bags as liners. At the end of the grocery line I snatch some extra plastic bags too. I also use these short plastic bags as shower caps by tying the handles behind my head.

2. Rubber Bands from my produce. I don't remember the last time I bought rubber bands either. I save the ones that come off my bunch of celery, romaine lettuce, asparagus, and other produce. I use them to band socks, folders, envelops - you name it, whatever it is, it has a rubber band around it at my house - well, not everything.

3. Shoe boxes I use to transport baked goods. I keep about five shoe boxes and line them with wax paper or aluminum foil when I need to use them. If they get beat up or soggy from the baked goods I just toss them out. Not only do I use the cardboard shoe boxes but I also use the plastic ones.

4. Olive oil is excellent for the skin. I have been using olive oil for a few years now, no more of the expensive lotions. My skin is so soft. Check out the link below to see how olive oil can benefit your skin. Some say that Crisco is good for the skin - haven't tried that as yet.

5. Spaghetti to light candles. That's right. I had to light several candles on a birthday cake and used several matches. One of my friends went to my pantry and got a spaghetti, lit it and used it to light the rest of the candles. Who knew?

6. Potholder for an eyeglass case. This is just adorable. I complained that my metal eyeglass case was scratching my sunglasses. The next day a friend gave me a sun-glass case she made. I looked at it and said, "this looks familiar." She said it was a potholder she folded in half and sewed up the side. Too cute!

7. Dryer Lint is a great fire starter. For those of you who use your fireplace begin to save your lint from your dryer instead of throwing it away. I clean out my dryer lint filter then place the lint in a plastic tub.

8. Cinnamon keeps ants away. For some reason at my mailbox I had ants crawling up the post and into the mailbox. My Mom took a plastic lid, placed powered cinnamon in it, put it inside the back of our mailbox, and that's been over two years ago and no ants since.

9. Styrofoam or plastic take-out containers make great paint pans. I was doing some painting and didn't have paint pans for the small rollers I was using. So I got a black plastic take-out container that my Mom saves and used it.

10. Dental Floss is not just for teeth anymore. It's good to cut your cake horizontally. I needed to put some filling between my cake layers. A good friend told me to minimize crumbs and handling, use dental floss. It worked great.

Colander Lamp

Apple Juice Vases


Cans turned pencil holders



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    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Hi Donna, you're welcome.

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 4 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Thanks for some unique ideas. I am going to remember the ant repellent!

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Hi fastfreta, thanks. I'm always looking for re-purposing ideas.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 6 years ago from Southern California

      Great hub Kristine, some of these I already use, like the Olive Oil, and the plastic bags in the trash cans. However the numbers 3, 8 and 10 are certainly ones I will try. Very well written, as usual, I'm certainly be reading more. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks stephaniedas.

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      This is a wonderful hub! You are an excellent writer.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks Melovy

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 6 years ago from UK

      Hi Kristine, you have some really great ideas here. Some I already do, such as reusing rubber bands and using plastic bags as bin-liners (sorry trash-can liners! I’ve a feeling bin has a different meaning in the States?) I would never have thought of lighting candles with spaghetti and will definitely give that a try -it sounds a lot better than burning my fingers. Using cinnamon to keep ants away also sounds great! :-)

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks Cloverleaf

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Hi Megan, starting to reuse and re-purpose items is fun, especially when you can see the money you can save.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Hi tlpoague, I use olive oil too for my hair and have been using it for a few years - it's great. I'll have to try the dryer sheets to keep the mosquitoes away. Do you happen to have any pictures of your husbands rugs? I sure would like to see that.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Hi Danette, with today's economy I am always on the lookout to reuse something.

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Great ideas Kristine, I am always looking for ways to re-use and recycle. I would never have thought about using dryer lint to start a fire. Maybe I will bring some camping with me next time :-)


    • Megan Coxe profile image

      Megan Coxe 6 years ago from somewhere between here and there

      Very innovative and some cute ideas! I am always brainstorming ways of re-using things, but rarely go through with it. Maybe I will now...

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from USA

      Fun tips! I love to use olive oil to soften up my hair. It is naturally corse and dry. Bounce dryer sheets help keep the mosquitoes away. (Rub a used sheet on you. It works the same as a repellent. I use a new one since they love my sugary blood.) My hubby makes rugs out of the plastic grocery bags. Great ideas! Thanks!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Neat ideas! I like the idea of using spaghetti for a match and the styrofoam take-out containers for painting.

      I too use plastic shopping bags in my small wastebaskets and dryer lint is a common fire started used by scouts when camping.

      I guess the challenge for us is to always be thinking of how we can reuse items we'd normally throw out.