Earth Friendly Ways To Reuse Your Garbage

Photo: Mona Makela/ShutterstockRalph Waldo Emerson once described a weed as, “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” Might we not consider garbage in the same way? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, after all. To the non-recycler, an empty bottle is garbage. To the reuse enthusiast, that empty bottle could be a chandelier, a vase, a drinking glass, a candelabra … you get the picture.

In a world being consumed by waste, it’s time to think of our trash in a different light (and save some money while we’re at it).

Outdoor Ideas


♦ Use a gallon milk jug to water the roots of garden plants without standing there with a hose: Poke small holes in the bottom of the jug and bury it; fill with water for slow and steady irrigation.backyard-bird-feeder-spring-craft-photo-420-FF0507EFDA01♦ Make a bird feeder out of a 2-liter plastic bottle.♦ Pour used bacon grease into a tuna or cat food can, chill until firm, and wire the can to a tree to give your feathered visitors some food. Bacon grease may be gross to some of us, but it attracts bluebirds, crows, jays, ravens, starlings, woodpeckers and Carolina wrens.

♦ Mound used coffee grounds in a ring around garden plants to keep ants and slugs away.

♦ Use paper egg cartons to start seedlings; since the paper will biodegrade, each cup with its seedling can be dropped right into the soil. Toilet paper tubes can be used in the same way.


Get Crafty

♦ Use old wine corks to create a floating key ring; never worry about your keys sinking while at the beach or lake again.

il_570xN.321891475♦ Become a recycling master and transform old wine corks into masterpieces.

♦ Once it’s time to retire an old game, use the game board to make coasters.

♦ Use old game pieces – Monopoly movers, dice, Scrabble tiles – to make jewelry or to decorate wrapped packages.

♦ Yes, this may seem random, but here goes: don’t throw away your old garden rake! Remove the head and hang it on the wall for use as a necklace tree, a rustic tie holder, a scarf organizer, a belt holder … the possibilities are many.


 Home Remedies

♦ Spread out old newspaper beneath a tablecloth to provide further protection against spills.

♦ Don’t forget the old trick of using newspaper instead of paper towels to clean windows.newspaperwindowcleaning

♦ Place an open jar or bowl of dried, used coffee grounds in your refrigerator or freezer to neutralize odors.

♦ Keep a jar of dried, used coffee grounds under the sink and use with dish soap as a scouring agent for cleaning caked-on stubborn food.

♦ Did your bike inner tube spring a leak? Lucky you! Now you can save the tube and cut it into strips for a bonanza of rubber bands in custom widths.

♦ You can also use a bike inner tube to fashion an industrial chic door draft stopper: Cut a length of tube a little longer that the door’s width, fill with sand and seal both ends; block drafts and stay cozy.

♦ We are a people of rampant toilet paper use and thus, we are all left with a lot of toilet paper tubes. You can turn those tubes into playthings and nesting materials for your small furry pets.

♦ Torn and crumbled toilet paper tubes also make fine packing material.

shoe-shine♦ Put old, stained T-shirts to use; cut them up and use them for messy spills around the house and in the garage.

♦ Old sailors know this one: use banana peels to shine your shoes. Rub the inside of the peel on shoes, then buff with a soft cloth.

♦ Use juiced citrus halves sprinkled with salt to clean stainless steel and other metal fixtures.


Body and Soul

♦ Keep used tea bags in the refrigerator; in the morning, dampen if needed and put one on each eye to relieve puffiness and refresh sleepy peepers.

♦ Dampen cool, used tea bags and place them on insect bites and minor burns; it’s said that the tannins help soothe and reduce inflammation.prescription-bottle-first-aid-kit

♦ Pack old newspaper sleeve bags in your purse or backpack for use as emergency galoshes.

♦ If you hate the feeling of rubber gloves against your skin, use newspaper sleeve bags to protect your hands while washing dishes.

♦ Pill containers can hold a stash of Band-Aids in your purse for when blisters and paper cuts strike.

♦ Another way to use soap slivers is to wrap a group of them in a washcloth and tie it into a bundle; presto, you have a self-sudsing scrubber.