Change the World Wednesday: It’s time to Reuse


This week’s challenge at Reduce Footprints is a good one.  It’s easy to ignore where our trash goes or if our recycling ended up being recycled. We can being to feel it is a waste of our time to sort our trash.  There is no away. Our trash doesn’t magically disappear once it leaves our curb. So this week, let’s reuse rather than recycle or throw things away.

This week, before placing items in either the recycle or trash bin, see if you can find new uses for them. For example, an empty ketchup bottle could be used to dispense pancake batter onto the griddle. An old cooking pot or tea kettle could become your newest planter. Got some empty medicine bottles? Fill them with coins and keep in your car for toll booths or times when you need a few pennies. The idea, this week, is to find a use for things which might otherwise be thrown away.


I already use my prescription bottles they are great to store a roll of quarters in for my laundry but they are also a good way to keep saved seeds airtight and viable for the next year.

Here are a few other items I could have tossed but instead found new uses for:

  • Metal gift card holder:  This is perfect to hold small items such as nails, jewelry for travel, craft supplies such as a small amount of beads and many other small pieces.
  • A soup tureen is now a beautiful planter.
  • Peanut butter jars:  These have been repurposed to hold allowances for the grandchildren, a container for screws, holder for the feather collection, holds crayons and even chalk.  If you are fortunate to have a glass nut jar, they also can be used as candle holders.  Of course they are ideal for storing leftovers or dried beans and other dried foods.
  • The plastic lid from Parmesan cheese (you know the kind you sprinkle on spaghetti?) fits perfectly over a mason jar for storing and measuring dried ingredients easy.
  • Paint cans: most are plastic today, since plastic can’t always be recycled, clean them out and use them to store craft supplies, toys or use them to hold plants on the patio.
  • CDs, Metal lids, and aluminum pie plates, are wonderful to hang around the garden to keep deer and rabbits from eating your plants as they don’t like the movement as they move in the breeze.

Here are more ideas from my Pinterest boards

Do your children wear out the knees on their jeans?  You can still use the rest of the pants.

Are you a coffee drinker?  You can create your own canister sets with the empty coffee containers.

Need a new roof on your home or garage or maybe just an old shed roof needs replaced. Roofing is expensive but not this one made from old tires.

Even your household linens can be repurposed into something useful.  Check out these pajama pants from vintage sheets.

There are so many great ideas for repurposing and reusing items we tend to see as garbage, all you need is a bit of imagination.

If you want to know where your trash, recyclables and even your sewage waste goes I can’t recommend highly enough the book Garbage Land. After reading this book I no longer put glass in the recycling bin for one.  Glass can be recycled an unlimited number of times, yet most of the glass we put out for recycling ends up being ground up to use in paving or as a cover for the landfill.

I have had a goal of zero waste for years now, that includes zero recycling. I have yet to reach that goal especially when it comes to the recycling but trash is pretty close, it’s a lofty goal but one I will continue to try to improve.

We can’t have landfills forever, and we can’t ask others to accept our trash.

~~ Jamie Lerner


Do you have a good idea to reuse an item most people would see as trash?

39 thoughts on “Change the World Wednesday: It’s time to Reuse

  1. Pingback: Eat your pom poms | Winter Owls

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  3. Love all of these Lois.. Now that roof has got to have been a tiler who was able to apply that great design… Never looking at it would I have thought it made of tyres… Brilliant….
    Don’t work too hard Lois over the weekend… I hope the Sun shines.. it is here…
    Hugs Sue


    • Sue, I think that roof is the ultimate in reusing! I guess it would take a lot of persuasion to get it approved in most areas but we need to start using what’s readily available now.

      I don’t plan any work this weekend. ;-) Tonight I will be attending the oldest granddaughters dance recital, then Saturday my son is picking me up to spend a few days with his it’s all fun for the next few days. Now don’t you work too hard, Sue.


      • How wonderful to spend family time Lois.. Today Saturday is a relaxing day for me too.. Sunday I am back at work.. But in the evening I too am going to my granddaughters Dance class presentation. She passed her first little dance exam, and they are putting on a show and presenting them with their awards.. So we are looking forward to going tomorrow evening to that… Strange isnt it how this weekend both sets of grandchildren are dancing! :-)
        Love it when these similarities happen ..

        Sue xox


          • Yes Lois strange but all good.. We had a fabulous time as did our granddaughter.. She had her exam a couple of weeks previous and the whole dancing school got a distinction as every one was very good at the various categories..
            They were from ages of 3and Half our Granddaughter was the youngest to age 20. and showed skills in ballroom disco and rock and roll… We spent a lovely couple of hours watching the show put on for us before the presentations.. Its was nice to see how our granddaughter remembered her steps too as she strutted her stuff in line with the others… :-) Made my day..
            We are both very proud grandmothers :-) I am sure


          • We had a similar age range at my granddaughter’s recital. Besides the smallest ones (who entertained me the most) there was also a wonderful performance on large rings and streamers, a kind of acrobatic/gymnastic performance.

            We are not only proud but very lucky. ;-)


  4. Awhile back, you posted a link with homemade birdfeeders. One was made from a plastic coffee container. I’m planning to make that one and my son is mortified!

    Old plastic food tubs (e.g. yogurt or sour cream) are also good for putting paint in so you don’t have the lug the big paint can around while painting with the brush.


    • Your poor son, ;-) Tell him a coffee can is better than no home and will protect the birds from predators

      I use yogurt cups, shot glasses and even ice cube trays when giving the little ones paint works really well..


  5. Some great ideas here. I love the pj pants made from old sheeting and those canisters are cute. The tyre roof makes such alot of sense but wouldn’t be allowed here, our building codes allow for little by way of creative license.


  6. Lots of good ideas and even if you can’t use them they get you to thinking about other things you could reuse. I really love those pj pants! I’m on a mission to find an old metal garbage can lid to replace the birdbath bowl the squirrels broke.


    • Cynthia, I am in love with those pj pants too. ;-) I kept my Pinterest boards short so they would be inspiration only. good luck finding a metal garbage can lid. I recently purchased a metal garbage can to store birdseed in. They aren’t easy to find any more.


  7. I too love the roof idea, but I wonder if it would be up to code – I sorta doubt it would get past the building inspectors.

    I have mixed feelings in general about re-using – not in principle, but in practice there is a fine line between creating something useful and just hanging onto clutter because you feel too guilty to throw anything away. As a person with a garage and basement full of junk that I can’t seem to get rid of because it “might be useful” SOMEDAY, I speak from experience here! Not quite sure how to tackle that end of it. Any suggestions?


    • Cat, i think it’s time to change the building regulations. I wanted to build a small home between 250 and 300 sq ft but it’s prohibited. Years ago my children and I designed an earthship and wanted to build one in PA, it too wasn’t permitted.

      When it comes to reusing, it only works when we cut down what we bring into our homes. I might only buy four or five foods in a can per year so it’s easy to find uses for them but if I ate a lot of canned food it would be hard to think of ways to reuse them.

      As for the someday, I gave up on that. Some day never seemed to come for me.


      • Agreed… bringing home less stuff in the first place is a good start – although we go through three cans of cat food each and every day here, oy! I suppose if I were a real zealot I could try to start making their food from scratch, but it’s really tricky with cats since they have very specific dietary needs and require either raw meat (which is problematic for a lot of reasons) or special supplementation to make sure they get all of the amino acids and nutrients they require. And with the world’s pickiest fe-lion living under my roof… I dunno, it sounds like a very tall order.

        I am trying to use some of the cardboard from the cat food cases to make a garden path that will (hopefully) keep the bindweed down a little bit. We’ll see how it goes!


        • Ah yes cat food. You could try listing them for sale to crafters. I’ve seen people are even earning money by selling empty toilet rolls.

          I love using cardboard for walkways. Will you be covering the cardboard with stone or some other material?


          • Mulch works great over cardboard. One thing I did find out recently and was going to write about is where the bark comes from the stores sell this time of year. You know the red and black mulch they sell? Turns out they use industrial pallets then dye them to have a consistent color because these particular pallets are toxic and can’t be used for anything else.


    • Let me think. As I mentioned I use them for tea candles, nice to have outside. You could also use them for the citronella candles if you made your own to keep mosquitoes at bay when outdoors. They are also great to store craft supplies in. My grandmother used to collect glass baby food jars to store here jewelry supplies such as beads in. When painting you can add a small amount of paint to a jar to make it easier to paint small projects. When I mix milk paint I use jars to store the excess.They also make great banks for children. ;-)


    • I’m not surprised a company found a way to make it more expensive, but I would think with a small roof, such as tool shed one could experiment with cutting up tires and experimenting with how to do this themselves.


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