Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't toss it ... yet!

We talk a lot about reusing things ... getting as much life as possible out of an item before it is sent to a landfill. It's easy with some items ... plastic butter containers can be used for leftovers, jars can be washed out and used for all kinds of things, old shirts can be turned into cleaning rags, etc. Other items don't seem to lend themselves to reuse ... that is ... until some very creative people tackle the problem.

Here are some unique ideas:

Used Toothpaste Tubes from EHow:
  • Clip off the cap end of the toothpaste tube with the knife or scissors.
  • Use hot, soapy water to completely rinse out the toothpaste tube.
  • Now, use the empty tube to store knifes or scissors, you won't cut your fingers when you reach for them in a drawer.
or ...
  • Clip off the bottom end of the toothpaste tube.
  • Use hot, soapy water to completely rinse out the toothpaste tube.
  • Fill the tube with icing, and you have a cake decorator you can use over and over again. Just rinse it out and store it in a drawer until you need it again.

Empty Toilet Paper/Paper Towel/Wrapping Paper Rolls from How to Reuse Paper Rolls
  • Extend Your Vacuum Cleaner's Reach - If your vacuum cleaner attachment isn't quite long enough, extend it by taping a wrapping paper roll onto it. Like magic those cob webs in the corner of your ceiling are gone.
  • Keep your electrical cords organized, and tangle free, by passing them through a toilet paper roll.
  • Keep important documents (diplomas, certificates, etc.) rolled up in a paper roll ... it'll keep them dry and crease free.
  • Use them to start seeds for this year's garden. Use scissors to cut each toilet paper tube into two pots, or each paper towel tube into four. Fill a tray with the cut cylinders packed against each other so they won't tip when you water the seedlings. This will also prevent them from drying out too quickly. Now fill each pot with seed-starting mix, gently pack it down, and sow your seeds. When you plant the seedlings, make sure to break down the side of the roll and make sure all the cardboard is completely buried.

Empty Cereal Boxes from Repurposeful
  • Use them as mailing boxes. For easy instructions on how to fashion them, click HERE.
  • Cut off the tops and store magazines in them.
  • Tape the ends closed and give them to your kids ... they make great building blocks for little imaginations.

Used Corks from Purdue University
  • Run your dull razor blade through a cork to get a few more shaves out of it.
  • Attach a cork to boat keys so they will float if they end up overboard.
  • Glue wine corks onto wood backing and make your own cork board.
  • Use corks as fish hook holders.

Empty Onion Mesh Bags from Thrifty Fun
  • Stuff it with batting or old socks/nylons, tie off the ends and use as a squishy Ball for kids.
  • Do you like to camp? Use mesh veggie bags to "drip dry" dishes.
  • Line a planter with the mesh bag to hold dirt in place.
  • Use them to hang wet bathtub toys from the shower head to dry.

What unique ideas do you have for reusing common household items?

As always ... I would love to hear from you!


  1. what clever ideas!!! i especially love the toothpaste idea :))

  2. Great ideas! Never knew a used toothpaste tube could be so useful. And thanks a bunch for the link!

  3. What great ideas! I'd heard the cork keyfob one before and forgotten it. It's so simple. You could turn cereal boxes into an in-tray too - ooh, you could use the paper roll holders to stack them. Cover them in something pretty. Job's a good-un!


  4. Gee too bad my dad isn't around to give you a few tips. Of course, we used to joke about how he used everything til it was unusable! He used to joke was about "the guy that saved string that was too short to use". I think that Dad would feel like he got the last laugh as now people are trying to conserve after living a lifetime of being wasteful. Guess Dad was smarter than we gave him credit for.

  5. Another great post. I use my old shoe boxes for everything from storing old papers/pics/mag. to storing electronic cords, etc. I reuse glass jars for dried foods, pens & pencils, change and batteries to be recycled. I do like your idea on tooth paste tubes, wish I had known that when my kids were little and making cup cakes. LOL

  6. We use our old newspaper to clean mirrors and windows. When I had old panty hose that were exhausted, I would wash them once more then cut the legs into one inch bands which I would use in lieu of rubber bands for my pony tails.

  7. Thanks Sf.... I especially like the one for the cereal boxes as I mail lots of things in my business. This is really useful. :D

  8. These are great ideas! I use empty toilet paper rolls to store my oil paints - I put tape at the end and stuff them with a bit of cloth from broken tshirts or something at they can be used for storage! I have some empty cereal boxes that I don't know what to do with however I think I can use the advice here!

  9. Love the ones about the toothpast tubes! Who would of thought to use them for cake decorating! Perect idea!
    Now I use the giant size containers of coffee and creamer for my hubby to store his odds and ends from his workshop in. You know screw, bolts and things like that. Plus I use them to keep scraps of paper and pens in too. But of course after I wash them out good!
    Keep up those great tips coming to us all! And Happy St. Patricks Day!

  10. Good ideas! I try to get pretty "crafty" with all my containers, for one, why buy it, if I can make it?
    It's past the holidays, but, I have to tell you, we did an old fashioned Christmas where all the gifts had to be handmade or homemade. We had the best time.

  11. Love the suggestions!!
    But, considering how long it takes me to get toothpaste out of my bag when my tube explodes on a trip, I have a feeling that washing out a toothpaste tube will be near impossible for me.

    Is there a special way to do this?

  12. Hi LittleJ,

    I haven't tried this yet so I'm not really sure how washing it out will work. I'm going to try it with warm/hot water and dish detergent. Maybe that will "cut it". Stay tuned ...


  13. These ideas are Wonderful! I'll share these ideas with my friends too!
    Thanks for all this info!

  14. Hi there,

    These are great tips! I also really enjoyed your article on "The New Author!" Kathryn Magendie sent me here to check out your blog and offer you the link to my book, "The Green Guide to Daily Living," which just came out through Cliff Road Books.

    It's great to see your blog, because you use a fun, easy to read,humorous and accessible style which I was shooting for in the book.

    Here is the link and my website!

    Great blog! I'll add you to my links. :)


    Megan Roth

  15. Onion mesh bags make o.k. pot scrubbers too; just tie them into a bunch of knots.

    Our last mesh bag is now hanging from a branch holding a block of suet for the chickadees!

    More important than any single application is the overall idea: trash is just something you haven't figured out a use for yet.