Last weekend my grown son was home for our autumn family picnic. I pulled out our Coleman water jug and his chin fell on the floor. “That thing predates me!” he exclaimed (he was born in 1978). We also used the 40 year old burnt orange coffee pot to make coffee that day as well as the 20 year old ice chest and 25 year old rain ponchos from the local amusement park, old plastic forks and spoons, unused condiment packages from fast food restaurant stops and plastic tablecloths used at last years wedding shower.
I’m a saver (I don’t think I have gotten to the ‘hoarder’ stage at this point!). If something is useful and I might personally use it later, it gets saved and used again.
Common Items to Re-Use and How to Re-Use Them.
Below is a list of things I (or hubby) have personally saved and reused. I’m sure most of you can add your own ideas to the list as well.
Empty coffee cans are great for holding paint or turpentine or bacon grease. My dad even wound cardboard strips sideways around the inside of one and gave it to us to use as a screwdriver holder (Dad died in 1983 and we are still using that screwdriver holder!).
Zip lock bags are routinely washed and used again for food (or other) storage. We don’t re-use for food if they contained toxic or very greasy items though.
Plastic one gallon ice cream tubs (we love ice cream) make great containers to carry food to picnics or gatherings. They fit nicely into ice chests and won’t break.
Plastic containers from sliced lunch meat are great for leftover vegetable or casserole servings.
Glass jars can be used for jelly and canning things like pickles. We also use them for holding those small utility items. Baby food jars are especially good for holding small screws and etc.
Plastic bags are used as trash can liners, food carriers on trips, package stuffing for shipping and re-wrapping precious Christmas keepsakes for storage.
Shopping bags are reused as carry alls for gifts and travel needs.
Brown grocery bags (when we can get them) are used for wrapping boxes for mailing and artwork by children as well as lining the kitchen trash can.
Decorated bags (such as those you put gifts in) are just reused for gift giving.
We save boxes to ship items. We tear down big boxes and lay them on the garage floor in case of oil leaks. We save heavy boxes to use as storage for all our other stuff – including once a year items for things like Christmas.
Small Utility Items
Loose screws and unbent nails (well this one is really more hubby’s than mine) are great to have on hand for fixing that odd broken thing.
Buttons from clothing we have given away, thrown away or made into rags can be used to replace missing buttons or as craft items.
Paper clips and rubber bands are corralled into containers and re-used multiple times. I don’t believe we have ever had to actually buy any of these in our 40 years of married life!
Pumpkins are first used to decorate the porch for Halloween, then carved into jack-o’-lanterns and finally processed for use in pumpkin bread.
Popsicle sticks have many uses, including crafts, holding up seedlings in a pot and more.
Used coffee grounds, banana peels and crushed egg shells are laid on the ground to enrich the soil.
Plastic utensils and hard plastic plates are washed by hand and used several times.
Mesh bags from Popsicle sticks hold bulbs we dig up and re-plant later to keep them dry until time to plant.
Clothing and Linens
Socks make soft containers for seldom used jewelry or if you have kids, they can be great puppets.
A worn out bedspread or comforter is used as a blanket under the new spread.
Old sheets and torn blankets are used to protect furniture as it is moved. They also make great summertime kid play tents when attached to the clothesline and can be used to hide items from view in a car or van while traveling.
Used up cotton underwear are great rags (after they are washed, sanitized and the bands cut off) for everything from washing windows to cleaning bathrooms.
Material from old clothing, if you are crafty, can be re-purposed into patterns for quilts or stuffing for handmade old time comforters.
Cast off clothing makes great dress up outfits for toddlers or kids making their own Halloween costumes.
Christmas cards are cut into gift tags and/or used for craft projects.
Old paper from things such as newspapers, magazines, discards from the printer and etc are used at our house to start fires, make notes and for grocery lists. Once we used old magazines for a craft project in Camp Fire Girls to make a ‘sit upon’ (cover the magazine with something water repellent and sew the sides together).
Leaves gathered by the lawn tractor are chopped by the mower and piled up to use as mulch.
Paint rollers are used multiple times at our house. The stores want you to think you need a new one for each job, but you don’t.
Logs are used at our house to line grass pathways. We have a lot of trees and many of them have died over the years so we have a lot of logs.
Now, I know that I am NOT the re-use queen but I try. So, tell me what common items you re-use and how you re-use them!