15 Household Items You Can Repurpose Instead of Throwing Away

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Living a sustainable lifestyle starts with small steps, and repurposing household items is one of the easiest ways to make a significant impact. With some ingenuity, you can repurpose a wide range of household items and give them a new lease on life.

These clever hacks will save money, reduce waste, and bring a fresh, eco-friendly vibe. Happy repurposing!

Plastic Containers

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Plastic containers and packaging accounted for more than 14.5 million tons of waste in 2018, notes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Plastic containers can be transformed into nifty storage solutions for everything from craft supplies to pantry staples.

Smaller containers are perfect for organizing office supplies, while larger ones can store bulk items like rice or flour. Turn plastic containers into DIY planters! Pry a few holes at the bottom for drainage and fill them with soil and seeds. Repurpose small plastic containers to hold shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and other essentials during your trips.

Glass Jars

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In 2018, Americans generated over 12 million tons of glass waste, but only 31.3% was recycled, reports the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Imagine the difference we could make if more people repurposed their glass jars!

For starters, they’re perfect for food storage. Unlike plastic containers, glass doesn’t leach chemicals into your food, keeping it fresh and safe. Plus, they’re super easy to clean and don’t retain odors. Are you feeling crafty? Fill them with spices, grains, and nuts, and label them for a neat, aesthetic look. And let’s not forget, they make great containers for homemade gifts, like cookie mixes or bath salts.

Old T-Shirts

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Repurposing just one T-shirt can save approximately 2,700 liters of water, the amount used to produce a single cotton tee from scratch, states the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Turn those soft, comfy shirts into durable, reusable tote bags for grocery shopping. All you need is a pair of scissors and some basic sewing skills.

Say bye to paper towels and hello to homemade cleaning rags. T-shirts made from cotton are super absorbent and can be washed and reused countless times. Cut your old tees into long strips to create “yarn” for knitting or crocheting projects. Think trendy rugs, quirky bracelets, or even a cozy blanket.


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Fun fact: the average American uses around 55 pounds of newspaper annually (EPA)! Newspapers are made from high-quality paper pulp, which is highly absorbent and durable. Get streak-free windows and mirrors by using newspapers instead of paper towels.

Save money on gift wrap by using newspapers. Not only is it chic and vintage, but it’s also eco-friendly. You can even highlight specific articles or comics to add a personal touch. Use them as a weed barrier, or add them to your compost pile. The USDA notes that newspapers break down easily and improve soil quality.

Cardboard Boxes

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First off, cardboard boxes make perfect storage containers. Whether you are organizing your closet or stowing away holiday decorations, they are sturdy and readily available. Paint them to match your home decor, and voila! Stylish and functional storage in an instant.

How about transforming a cardboard box into a fun DIY project? Turn them into playhouses, forts, or crafting stations for children. Additionally, moving houses? There is no need to buy new packing material. Reuse those boxes to carry belongings to your new abode safely. Recycling one ton of cardboard can save over nine cubic yards of landfill space, reports the Corrugated Packaging Alliance.

Egg Cartons

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Egg cartons make perfect containers for starting seedlings. Fill each cup with soil, plant your seeds, water them, and watch them grow! Use them to sort small items like beads, buttons, or screws. They’ll keep your drawers neat.

Fill each compartment with dryer lint and some melted wax to create easy-to-light fire starters for your next camping trip. There are endless crafting possibilities, from making adorable egg carton critters to decorative garlands.

Wine Corks

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Did you know that roughly 13 billion wine corks are produced globally annually? Cork is a natural, biodegradable material harvested from cork oak trees, predominantly grown in Portugal. Glue wine corks together to create unique and heat-resistant coasters or placemats. Add a splash of paint or decorations for extra flair!

Shred wine corks to use as mulch in your garden. Natural cork helps retain moisture and improve soil health.

Coffee Grounds

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Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, which makes them a great addition to your compost pile (can help accelerate the decomposition process). Sprinkle used coffee grounds around your garden to deter pests like ants, slugs, and snails.

Place a bowl of dried coffee grounds in your refrigerator or freezer to absorb and eliminate unpleasant odors. Coffee grounds can also deodorize your hands after cooking with onions or garlic. Stubborn grease and grime? Coffee grounds’ abrasive nature makes them an effective, natural scrub for pots, pans, and countertops. Just be sure to avoid using them on porous surfaces that might stain.

Plastic Bags

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The average American family carries home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year. That’s a whole lot of potential waste! Moreover, an estimated 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually, mistaking them for food.

Turn them into Trash Bin Liners. They are perfectly sized for small trash bins around your house. Use them to weave sturdy baskets or create intricate rugs and mats (plarn (plastic yarn)). Use plastic bags to wrap and protect holiday decorations or other seasonal items. They make ideal pet waste bags for when you’re out walking your furry friend.

Wooden Pallets

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One of the most popular uses for repurposed pallets is creating furniture. With some elbow grease, patience, and creativity, you can turn these pallets into rustic coffee tables, stylish sofas, or a comfy bed frame.

Wooden pallets are a gardener’s best friend. They can be transformed into vertical planters, compost bins, or garden paths. This saves you money and adds a personal touch to your gardening space. Plus, it keeps the pallets out of the waste stream, contributing to a healthier planet.

Plastic Bottles

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Ready to give those plastic bottles a fabulous new identity? Transform a plastic bottle into a bird feeder by cutting holes and adding perches. Fill it with birdseed, and voilà, you’ve got a sustainable snack station for local wildlife.

Slice a plastic bottle in half, add a wick and some soil, and plant your seeds. As the water in the lower half evaporates, it will keep your plants hydrated. Perfect for low-maintenance gardening! Fill empty bottles with non-recyclable plastic waste and compact them tightly. These “eco-bricks” can be used in various DIY projects, like building garden furniture or structures.

Aluminum Foil

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Fold a sheet of aluminum foil several times and then cut through it with dull scissors. The foil helps hone the blades, giving them a quick and easy sharpening. Crumple a sheet of aluminum foil into a ball and use it to scrub pots and pans.

It’s abrasive enough to remove stuck-on food without scratching most surfaces. Place an aluminum foil sheet under your ironing board cover to reflect heat, which can help you iron both sides of your clothes simultaneously and more efficiently. Protect your plants from pests by wrapping foil around tree trunks or at the base of plants to deter insects and small animals.

Tin Cans

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Why toss them when you can transform them into something useful and fun? Tin cans make fantastic herb planters. Clean the can, add soil, and plant your favorite herbs. Voila! A cute, DIY herb garden for your kitchen window.

Use decorated tin cans to store makeup brushes, pens, pencils, or any items that need organizing. A splash of paint or decorative paper can add a stylish flair to your vanity or desk. Make sure to sand down any sharp edges of the tin cans before repurposing them to avoid accidental cuts. Safety first!

Shoe Boxes

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First off, shoe boxes are incredibly sturdy, making them perfect for various DIY projects. They also come in different sizes, which adds to their versatility. Use old shoe boxes to store anything from craft supplies to office materials.

Cover them with decorative fabric or paper to match your home decor. Cut down the boxes to create custom drawer dividers. This works great for organizing clothing, cutlery, or cosmetics. With some wrapping paper and ribbon, shoe boxes can become beautiful gift boxes, perfect for any occasion.

Old Towels

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Don’t toss those frayed old towels just yet! Turn your old towels into comfy pet beds or cozy blankets for your furry friends. Mix or sew a few layers to create a soft, comfy mat.

Cut those towels into smaller pieces, and voila! You have super absorbent cleaning rags perfect for tackling spills, dusting furniture, or wiping down countertops. Why buy a new bath mat when you can create your own? Layer and sew old towels to form a plush, absorbent mat for your bathroom.

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