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Get Green

Make What's Old New Again By Repurposing Items Around The House


Every day can be Earth Day when you reuse household items. Here are some fun ideas to get you started.

A Can-Do Attitude

Some houseplants can easily be propagated to create more plants. Plant your new offshoots in repurposed tin cans for a sweet, earth-friendly look. Paint the cans or keep them rustic, depending on your style.

Tee Time

Americans generate an estimated seventeen million tons of textile waste per year. There’s no need to toss the old collectible T-shirts from every concert or special event you’ve attended. Instead, turn that T-shirt collection into a quilt. Even if you’re not a quilter, you should be able to hire someone to stitch your sentimental coverlet.

If you aren’t in the market for a new quilt, try framing your favorite tees instead. You can make your own box frames using scrap wood or try stretching a shirt over an inexpensive canvas or thrift store picture frame.

Turn your tees into grocery totes and kiss plastic bags goodbye. An online search for T-shirt totes will give you a wide variety of free patterns. Some of them are even no-sew.

You can get a double word score in the repurposing game by cutting up old tees into paper-towel size squares. Keep them in a basket on your kitchen counter and reach for one whenever you typically grab a paper towel. In the world of reducing, reusing, and recycling, this is the trifecta.

A Real Page-Turner

If an old book has lost its binding, don’t toss it just yet. Use loose book pages to create whimsical door wreaths, origami flowers, wallpaper for small spaces, and even gift-wrap.

Cards on the Table

Christmas cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, Valentine’s Day cards, get-well cards — we’re inundated with cards. Did you know you can recycle your cards by opening them up, cutting them on the fold line, and reusing them as gift tags or greeting cards? No one will know. It’s good for the environment and saves you money.

On a Roll

Even the humble cardboard tube that supported your toilet paper and paper towels can be repurposed. Fill empty paper tubes with dryer lint to use as fire starters for a campfire, fire pit, or fireplace.

Jarring Revelations

It’s no surprise that old jars can be used for drinking glasses or a pen and pencil holder for your home office desk. This gives you an eco-friendly excuse to splurge on a more expensive jam in a decorative jar.

Use old glass jars to store your dried beans, rice, and dried other bulk food items. Not only are you repurposing the jars, but you are also keeping your pantry stylish, organized, and pest-free.

Old candle jars are perfect for holding small items like cotton swabs, cotton balls, and paperclips.

Scrap It

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps and yard waste create a combined 30% of what we throw away. Composting these materials frees up space in landfills and reduces methane production. Plus, you’re rewarded with organic material that can enrich your flower beds and gardens.

Get the Kids in on the Fun

Save items like empty egg cartons, newspaper, and paper rolls to create an enviable craft station for the children in your life. Add inexpensive craft items like pipe cleaners, construction paper, safety scissors, and the possibilities are endless. With a bit of imagination, a child can create toilet paper tube puppets, egg carton bird feeders, and so much more. Egg cartons make excellent homes for a young gardener’s seedlings, too.

Outsource Your Repurposing

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If you can’t find a use for a household item, consider checking out an online “buy nothing” group. Members frequently post curbside alerts of items they are giving away, ranging from furniture to empty baby food jars. You may also find just the thing you need to complete a redecorating or craft project.


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