By: Georgia Carter
Reduce, reuse, recycle - we’ve all heard this phrase many times before. But while reducing is self-explanatory, not many of us know how to reuse items that have become destined for the bin.
Below are 15 different ways you can upcycle and repurpose your waste products. From toothbrushes and plastic bags to CDs and rubber bands, there’s always something you can do instead of opting for the bin.
Tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, sweet corn, and more - some of our favourite foods are stored in tins. But while the nourishing substance entombed inside is easy to get rid of, the object that holds it is not. Instead of chucking your tins, why not turn them into little flower pots? Just give them a clean, replace the contents with soil, and you have a perfectly good pot at no cost at all. Cover them with material or patterned paper to give your new pot character and style.
Credit: Juliette Watson, Unsplash
It’s always exciting to read the current affairs on paper, but once read, where does the newspaper go? Don’t throw it away; give it a second chance by using it as a replacement for paper towels or dish rags to wash your windows. Alternatively, you can place the paper under your tablecloth to ensure the cloth doesn’t shuffle.
Credit: Absolute Vision, Unsplash
Glass bottles can become so much more than just beverage holders. Turn your bottles into rustic candle holders, slim flower vases, or add a few attachments to make a bird feeder! That way, you’re helping both the planet, its animals, and yourself.
Credit: Loli Clement, Unsplash
These unavoidable tools for hygiene are notoriously hazardous in the wild. Don’t throw away your old toothbrush. Instead, use it as a scrubbing brush for those hard-to-reach spaces like titles and vents. They also make great shoe-shiners with a bit of polish in place of toothpaste!
Credit: Amirhosen Esma Eili, Unsplash
You may not need that shirt or pair of pants anymore - but someone does. Always donate your clothes before resorting to the garbage. This not only helps save the planet but may even save a life. Furthermore, you can cut up unwearables and use them as cleaning rags for months on end.
These small little indented spaces create the perfect nooks for seedlings! If you love plants and want more without breaking the bank at the gardening centre, take some cuttings or seeds and begin their growing stages in a repurposed egg carton. Alternatively, if you’re an art enthusiast, turn your egg carton into a paint pallet!
Credit: Jade Ashton, Unsplash
These little critters are dangerous when they reach the wild. Instead of letting them get that far, why not use your empty pill bottles as little storage spaces. Turn them into impromptu sewing kits, nail boxes, or band-aid storage units.
Credit: Hayley Lawrence, Unsplash
Silica Get Packages
These tiny waste items are found sealed in with many consumer goods, with the purpose to keep them fresh. But they won’t keep your bin in good condition if thrown away, neither will they be useful in a landfill. Keep your packets and store them between important documents or between photos.
One of the world’s worst villains - the plastic bag. While reducing your consumption of this object is by far the more significant action to take, there are ways to reuse it. Save your bags for future shopping or use them as a plant moisture trap. When going on holiday, placing a paper bag beneath your plant’s pot will help the soil remain moist, thereby preventing your plant from drying up.
In this modern age, we barely use CDs anymore. But what to do with your spare CDs that you no longer have use for? Get creative, paint them up, and transform them into quirky coasters, protecting not only the environment but your countertops and table too.
These items can be used in myriad ways, and because they’re so easy to clean, they can be reused multiple times. Turn your glass jars into outside candle holders, a small plant pot, a paintbrush holder, a water cup, or simply use for storage.
Credit: Denise Johnson, Unsplash
Toilet Paper Rolls
We all have tons of toilet paper rolls that we simply throw away. Why not reuse them as organisers? If you have Christmas or fairy lights, you know they always get tangled when put away. Folder them neatly into your toilet paper roll to keep them tidy and organised.
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Rubber bands have the nasty ability to choke animals in the wild. Instead of throwing them away, use them to secure your clothes on the hanger or as a spoon stopper when using bowls to prevent your spoon from slipping into the bowl itself.
Credit: Michael Walter, Unsplash
Foil is almost impossible to recycle and does immense damage when let loose. Try washing your foil and use it again when cooking your next meal.
Credit: Elena Mozhvilo, Unsplash
We all know that plastic is one of the more significant problems our world faces. When you’re stuck with plastic you don’t know how to get rid of, cut it up into small pieces and stuff it in a milk bottle to make an eco brick. Once the bottle is filled to the brim with plastic to make a complete eco brick, it can be donated and used as cheap and effective housing material.
Credits: Harassed Mom, Pinterest
Now that you’re equipped with more ways to reuse and repurpose your everyday waste items, challenge yourself to get creative and innovative. By reducing and then reusing our rubbish, we’re not only saving money and giving these items a second chance, but we’re also giving the Earth space to breath, grow, and flourish.
Valentina Jovanovski, Ten of the best ways to reuse rubbish, The Ecologist, 2011
Melissa Breyer, 50 Ways to Reuse Your Garbage, Treehugger, 2017
Ashley, How To Reuse 13 Things You Would Normally Throw Away, My Heart Beets, 2014