Reuse. Even Better Than Recycling


If there’s one thing better than recycling, it’s reusing an existing item. While recycling uses less energy than creating something new, it still requires fuel for transport and lots of processing energy to complete. There are many things we use every day that could be re-used; all it takes is a little imagination.

I’m not crafty. I really wish I were, but even for the Martha Stewart-challenged of us, there are ways to reinvent the things we have. I’ve come across some interesting ideas lately and thought I’d share them with you.

Oxford Cloth or Flannel Shirt. New Use: Cloth Napkin. I hear these fabrics make great napkins. You cut out the sizes you want and either hem the edges or use fusible web and an iron to seal the seams.

Wine Bottle. New Use: Garden Hose Guard. Bury the inverted bottles in the ground at the corners of your garden beds.

Bath Towel with Frayed Edges. New Use: Bath Mat. This idea came from Nicki at Domestic Cents. She folded a towel in half and made a great bath mat by sewing the edges and adding a checkerboard pattern.

Cereal Box. New Use: Magazine Holder. A few cuts is all it takes. Check out some simple instructions here.

Egg Carton. New Use: Earring or Craft Supply Holder. These are great for sorting small items. I’ve also cut them in half and used them as paint trays for my daughters — 6 colors each and they’re easy to hold.

Tissue Box. New Use: Plastic Bag Dispenser. Stuff the box with plastic bags (the ones left over from your days before reusable grocery bags) :). It makes them easy to store and retrieve.

Junk Mail. New Use: Craft Paper for Kids. My kids are into scissors lately. They will cut a piece of paper to shreds and move on to the next. At this point, they don’t care what they are cutting. Junk mail is great for this and other little art projects. Once the kids are finished, I recycle the bits.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. What are some things that you’ve found new uses for?

Photo Credit: evelynishere


  1. Great article. If each of us started to recycle just one of the things we usually throw away each day to be wisked away into huge mountains of landfill we could all make a great difference to the planet. How about
    – Using your husbands old business shirts as painting shirts for your kids or take them to your local school.
    – Buy your magazines from your local thrift shop, they are cheaper and cut down on printing costs.
    Come on everyone…keep inventing new ways to re-use

  2. Good ideas! I also never throw out a baby wipes tub. My daughter has been potty-trained for a year now and I still have several wipes containers holding things like crayons and art supplies.

  3. Thanks for the ideas! I have a lot of magazines and have run out of holders. I need to try the cereal box idea.

    One thing we re-purposed were old jars. We use them as pen and pencil holders at our desks.

  4. Thanks for all the tips everyone! I agree, if we each re-used a little more we’d all be a lot better off.


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