20 Things You Can Use Twice Before Tossing

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Here’s a previously published list of ideas that has collected lots of tips from readers over time, did we miss any? Please add yours!

  1. Picture of Recycle Tag - Tipnut.comDry Cleaning Bags: Use to pack suits, dresses and fine clothing when traveling, this will help protect it from wrinkles when packing. When storing the bags make sure to keep them safely out of reach of children, they really are that dangerous.
  2. Butter Wrappers: Once you’ve removed a block of butter from its wrapping, place the wrapping in a plastic container or bag and refrigerate. Use it to grease baking pans.
  3. Business Cards: Use the other side to label storage boxes and tubs and tape to the outside of the lid or side so you can see at a glance what the container is holding.
  4. Used Envelopes: Cut a corner off envelopes and use as bookmark corner sleeves–just slide one over the page you are at and you’ll find your place easily the next time you pick up the book. No more folded corners and nice way to utilize used envelopes! You can also use envelopes for To Do lists, store garden seeds, and as bookmarks and labels.
  5. Cardboard Egg Cartons: You can use these to make homemade firestarters.
  6. Tissue Boxes: Once they’re empty you can use these as a plastic bag dispenser, just fill with grocery bags and you’ll be able to neatly pull out one at a time.
  7. Plastic Grocery Bags: Use as garbage pail liners, paint tray covers, packing material.
  8. Plastic Bread Clips: Save a few of the square plastic clips that keep bread bags closed to use as tiny scrapers. They come in handy to remove labels, price tags, and even do a good job scratching lottery tickets.
  9. Newspaper: Line kitty litter boxes for easy cleanup (top with kitty litter), protect work surfaces from crafts & interior paint jobs, giftwrap, use as packing material when moving or shipping.
  10. Plastic Strawberry Baskets: Use as a homemade bubble machine, hold small packets in the pantry.
  11. Cleaner Spray Bottles: Clean thoroughly and use to hold your homemade cleaners, use to spray plants…very important to clean thoroughly first.
  12. Mesh From Veggie Bags: If you buy veggies that are bagged in nylon mesh, you can use that mesh for various cleaning jobs around the house and yard. Just wad up the bag and use it as a scrubber.
  13. Styrofoam Food Trays: Clean thoroughly, wrap in foil then use as trays for giving gifts of baking.
  14. Pantyhose: Use in the garden to tie plants to stakes, make shower spa bags plus there are 20 ideas found here.
  15. Paper Towel Cardboard Rolls: Use to wrap extension cords, Christmas lights (keep untangled).
  16. Citrus Peels: Use to make your own homemade citrus cleaners, candy peels to use in baking or freeze the peels to use for zest in recipes as needed, Save your peels from citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. You can toss them in the fire place when you have a fire going to give the room a nice, fresh smell.
  17. Packing Foam Peanuts: Save them and reuse when packing breakables, storing Christmas decorations or sending gifts in the mail
  18. Brown Paper Bags: Once used, twist into small rolls and use as fire starters.
  19. Laundry Bottle Caps & Scoops: Wash thoroughly and use as sandbox, pool, bathtub toys or pet food scoopers (for dried food).
  20. Cereal Liner Bags: Clean and use for stacking meat patties before freezing, store bread crusts, cover food in the microwave.

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Published: April 29, 2008
Updated: May 30, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
164 Comments to “20 Things You Can Use Twice Before Tossing”
  1. Betty Russell says:

    Cereal liner/bags.
    I have for years used the bags for icing ! I totally expected to see this use listed but having not I will pass it on! The wax paper is nice & heavy and easy to make a icing bag from. cut a small angle on one corner or open flat and form a cone with an opening the size you want. Scoop icing into it and twist down as needed. No cleanup mess just toss when done! Strong and flexable…. will not fall apart when using.
    Other uses. Freezing Hamburger pattie separater.

  2. TipNut says:

    Great idea Betty, I never thought of the icing bag trick. Thanks for sharing that :).

  3. Sandy says:

    The square plastic bread clips can be used as “small bobbins” for knitting to hold the long tail at the beginning of the project while you knit. Just wrap the “excess” yarn around it.

  4. Elaine says:

    We use brown paper bags for putting our recyclable paper in before we put it out in the collection bins.

  5. Ann says:

    Use nylon mesh bags from vegetables for your wild birds nest making..just fill with dryer lint, short pieces of yarn, etc. They will use it to integrate with the twigs, etc. Just fill and hang outdoors where they can get to it.
    Use empty plastic strawberry containers when you plant some of your spring bulbs. Just bury it in the hole before filling with soil and bulbs..the gophers and moles will not eat your bulbs.
    Use empty facial tissue boxes to catch all your loose threads that you trim from your sewing. When full just empty and reuse.

  6. Jenny says:

    Used dryer sheets are one of the best things to use when removing nail polish. Put a bit of nail polish remover on it and it’ll clean your nails in seconds.

    • LijaWW says:

      THANK YOU! I’ve been wishing there was something else I could use those sheets for. This is great, no more wasting paper towels!

      • Newdaawn says:

        I have stopped buying dryer sheets altogether. The clothes are just as soft without them and none of the overly sweet smell.

    • Jey says:

      I use dryersheets for the filter in the top of the litter box instead of having to buy new filters! Works amazingly.

  7. LYNETTE GREEN says:

    All these ideas are wonderful, BUT, where, oh where, do you store all the things you keep for another day??

    • Liisa says:

      Many of the items saved, such as rags & drier sheets go in the plastic bags sheets and curtains are sold in. Then I put that more compact bag where I would use the item, like my wash bucket which also stores the cleaners. Always store near where you would use them. The mesh vegetable bags go under the kitchen sink, etc.

  8. TipNut says:

    Hi Lynette, you can use things up as they become available and if you have too much to use, just pick one or two things to save and keep stock of (the most frequently used items would be worthwhile).

    These are just ideas intended to spark looking at things a little differently instead of just automatically throwing stuff away :).

    Edit: Forgot to add–great ideas guys, thanks for sharing with everyone!

  9. su says:

    I reuse jelly jars, pasta sauce jars and the like by running them through the dishwasher and using them for drinking glasses.

    • Rachel says:

      I use my old jars to collect cooking grease so it doesn’t go down the sink and clog the pipes. When it’s full I just throw it away.

      • Michele says:

        use your bacon grease to feed the birds… make suet cakes out of them. Line a 9 x 13 pan with wax paper. Mix bacon grease and bird seed. Pour in pan. Freeze. Then cut to squares and enjoy the birds ;-)

  10. leslie says:

    Question about the cereal liner bags…. You mean the plastic bag that the cereal actually comes in? That’s microwaveable?! Wouldn’t it melt?

    • Liisa says:

      I would not use cereal bags for baking/microwave. However, separating frozen food and rolling pie crust is an excellent use. I also use as a placemat for the kids painting projects.

    • flibberlips says:

      The ones i use for this are from inside the cereal boxes.I also use these for leftovers or for smaller portion control and seal them with my seal a meal.

      • flibberlips says:

        Also i use any resealable bag(generic ziplock)to do my kitchen dirty work:to refill my squeeze bottle of mayo;spoon mayo from jar in a bag,push all to one corner,cut tip off corner,squeeze all of mayo into top of squeeze bottle,no mess.I do this to pour funnel cakes,frosting,all manner of messy stuff.

        • Rebecca says:

          Since I was getting ready to refill my squeeze mayo this morning your tip was timely. I was dreading spooning It in the jar and getting half of it down the outside. I had never thought about using a resealable bag for it. Thanks for a great tip.

          A lot of the great tips mentioned I already use but there are some are new and I can’t wait to try them. I love all these suggestions.

  11. Rod says:

    My wife uses the clear egg cartons to package mini cupcakes.

  12. Josh says:

    This is an oldy-but-goody that many people surprisingly don’t know. Save your peanut butter jars (preferably plastic) as storage for nuts, bolts, screws, or other small items.

    If you have a place to do it, you can attach the lids to a piece of plywood and hang the piece of plywood from say the rafters in your tool shed. That way the lids stay attached, and all you do is unscrew the jar when you need whatever it holds. Saves space, too.

  13. Kirsten says:

    The heavier plastic utensils (forks, spoons, etc.) can be placed in the dishwasher and reused many times. Eventually the start to break down, but they are worth more than the single use that they are marketed for.

  14. Stephanie says:

    When you’re cooking with fresh lemons/limes, you can use the spent lemon rind halves with a little salt to clean and disinfect your wooden or bamboo cutting boards. I use it on counters, too.

    Plastic produce bags get tucked inside an empty bowl and used to hold the trimmings from the produce – peels, onion ends, etc. It reuses a bag and makes cleanup easy.

    If you have old towels or blankets, animal shelters would gladly take them off your hands to use as bedding.

    I haven’t tried it, but I hear dry cleaners will take back your wire hangers for re-use.

  15. K says:

    We do a lot of these already. I use junk mail for scrap paper all the time. Also, I use junk mail and old newspaper and other paper goods as kindling, just rip it into pieces first. Also, I reuse paper grocery bags to collect food waste and dump it bag and all into the compost bin.

  16. Jeff says:

    We save butter containers and use them to store small toys for the kids. Little super balls, tiny army men, the little crep that comes home from birthday parties and that restaurant with the arches. They last forever, wash easily and stack up neatly.

  17. Alan says:

    Sometimes you just get too much of the same reuseable or even unused items like Envelopes.

    I work in an office that everybody waste A4 paper as if they’re toilet paper. Example here, something printed wrong, oh gosh, whole document goes to trash without even thinking. I was like WTF. Sorry to say that but he’s my boss. Another coworker he trashed those disposable paper cups every time he drinks water. So pretty much one cup per sip.

    There isn’t recycling going on in this area. I mean hey it’s a business district here. What’s going on with the recycling campaign. I want to help reuse/recycling and even reduce. Just sometimes system isn’t ready for folks who are eager to do anything good for our environment.

    I urge anyone who’s like me seeing this happen just do the best you can to reuse items. Use less is another way too please don’t forget! :)

    • Kit says:

      Talk to your boss, (if he’s approchable) and ask if you can take some of the ‘error’ paper home with you. When he asks why either tell him you want to give it to your kids to scribble, or reuse it yourself, or flat out tell him it bothers you how much paper waste there is.
      As far as the wasted cups talk to a few good friends in the office, see if they’ll bring in mugs and or cups to use during the day. You may not be able to stop all the watse, but having three or four people use regular cups helps. Who knows may inspire more little things.
      Good luck.

    • Sylvia says:

      I print out crochet patterns on the backs of sheets of paper that my husband has used and discarded. I use any scrap of paper I can find when I need to make a note to myself.

    • Michelle A says:

      If you feel really enthusiastic, work out how much money could be saved by people saving the waste paper, cutting in half and stapling to use as note paper and bringing their own mugs. Cost cutting will open many a boss’ ear where ‘environmental issues’ won’t.

    • Jen says:

      I feel the same way about wastefulness at the office. I only print stuff that I really need, and if it’s something that doesn’t need to be mailed out to someone, like if it’s just a checklist for me, or a shipping label for a UPS package, I always use the backside of documents that are going to be shredded anyway. I also stopped using so many post-it notes by downloading a free post-it note app on my desktop. It’s just as effective for me and eliminates a lot of paper waste. We don’t have a water cooler, so we have to purchase bottled water, which is a LOT of plastic, as our whole office drinks a lot of water every day. There is no recycling in our area, so I have a recycle bag set up specifically for water bottles. When it gets full, I take them to a recycling center. If I didn’t, they’d get thrown in the trash!

  18. Laura Melone says:

    I shred most of my bills because of the identity theft threat and I save the shredded paper to use when shipping items, instead of plastic filler or peanuts.

    Also – regarding plastic peanuts..when I receive something packed in them, I bag them up and bring them to our local UPS store…they accept them to re-use.

  19. Tombuch says:

    I reuse many of my ziplock bags. For example, I cook bacon by the pound and then heat it in the microwave when needed. So there is a plastic ziplock marked “bacon” that gets washed (inside out) and reused. I keep open hotdog packages in a ziplock, and that bag is also marked and reused. I’ve also got freezer bags that are reused as long as they don’t get too contaminated. Some are marked for specific foods, and some are not. If these bags are washed between uses they can last a year, and there is no longer a need to keep buying them for single uses.

    Another reusable is a plastic bread bag that goes back to the grocery store and gets refilled with bagels, hardrolls, or fruits/vegetables. They also make great lunch bags.

  20. Shawn says:

    If the recycling program isn’t up to par in your workplace, you should think about putting something in place. With a careful approach, you’ll show your boss that you’ve got the wherewithall to put something together. If you have a tough time getting him/her to sign off on it, tell them that any proceeds can go to a communal party fund, or to an office supplies fund ( to pay for all the paper everyone’s wasting). With the way things are going it wont be long before everyone has no choice but to do this anyway, it’ll show you’re a forward-thinking individual if you’re ahead of the game.

  21. ken says:

    We use plastic grocery bags as dog-poop bags.

    I buy a bottle of water every two weeks and take it to work to refill from the water fountain. More than a couple weeks and it gets a little greenish.

    I load up my home printer with one-sided printouts from the office, printing on their backsides. I also tear a lot of those printouts in quarters for scrap paper.

  22. Dick says:

    These are all good ideas, but i’m not going to do any of them. I just cant be bothered. Yesterday, I threw away 23 pennies b/c I hated how much they jingled. I wonder how many other people are like me. I’d like to help, but I’m just impatient and lazy. Sorry.

    • Holly Campbell says:

      Couldn’t you have just tossed those pennies into the container at convenience stores? Or toss into the tip can when you get your expensive latte? Or just give them to the first kid you see on the street? You could probably have just put them in your mailbox with a note to the carrier about finding a use for them. Or give them to the first beggar you see on the street. Or even just leave them on the table in the break room for pete’s sake!

      • K S says:

        Pennies thrown carelessly away,
        Become obsolete on a needed day.
        Whew…

      • Caring Sheri says:

        First of all, destroying (discarding) US Currency is a punishable offense. Sure, no one will ever really catch you, but, it costs the country a whole lot more than your few pennies to mint coins, use copper and metals. We are certainly a land of plenty and a land of waste. If you ever have the opportunity to speak to an older person who may have worked for 25 cents a day………… cutting brush off a new road bed ………. back in the depression, you may a little more appreciation for the legal currency of our country. My father was that kid who ran home every afternoon after working all day on saturday back in the 30s and was beaming proud to hand his mother his quarter. Put a jar on your counter and put all that “aggravating, jingling change” in it every day and at least donate it to a local food bank, soup kitchen or abused women’s center. I assure you, it won’t aggravate them!

    • Kit says:

      Seriously? That’s not lazy, that’s just irresponsible! Sorry, but it is.

    • kate says:

      you spent more time typing your message than it would have taken putting those pennies to good use.

    • Audrey Henry says:

      I always pick them up, they have God’s name on them!!!

  23. bob says:

    The plastic bread clips are really good for labeling individual cables under your desk. Which one is the VCR? put a clip on it, and write on it with a Sharpie. Down with cable madness!

  24. Yo says:

    Wow, reuse packing peanuts to pack things and protect them when sending them or storing them? Clever.

    • Rebecca says:

      It might be a no-brainer for you, but you would be surprised at how many people just throw them away when they receive their package. We’ve become such a disposable society that many people can’t be bothered to save and reuse packing peanuts for their original purpose, let alone figuring out a way to re-purpose them.

      Another tip for used packing peanuts, if that wasn’t clever enough for you – I am making a beanbag chair for my son with the packing peanuts we have saved from moving and packages.

      • marlene rall says:

        I use packing peanuts in the bottom of large planters. I put newspaper on top of them to keep the potting soil from going through, double recycling and it makes the planter lighter!!!

    • Newdaawn says:

      Most packing peanuts are now made from some kind of sugar mixture that breaks down quickly in the landfills. So I have been told.

    • Michelle A says:

      Packing peanuts can also be used as christmas decorations. Kids can pain them (with home made paints) and when dry, string them together. They could also be used in counting and math games and as beads for kid to make jewellery.

  25. Ryan says:

    Recycled paper egg cartons make great holders for your seed starts.

    ALL plastic bags can be washed and reused. I’m not sure about other places, but in Portland, OR, the stores offer a small refund to you if you bring your own plastic bags(5c)

    Yogurt containers/plastic containers with lids are comparable to Tupperware, and *most* of them are microwave safe.

    Shampoo bottles/detergent bottles can be reused/refilled at your local bulk/co op store.

  26. Tor says:

    Used lemon slices (i.e. the leftover part you get after having squeezed out juice) can be tossed in your refridgerator, and will absorb foul smells from foods etc.

  27. Frugal Dad says:

    Just stumbled here from BeingFrugal.net and so glad I found you. I love the site! You might be interested to hear about my Earth Day project to find uses for used plastic milk jugs. It was a popular one. I look forward to catching up on your archives.

  28. Dee says:

    I used to pay a lot for the pine shavings/bedding for the kids guinea pigs but I don’t need them now. I take the shredded paper home from work and use it in the guinea pig cages. Just line the bottom with newspaper and cover it with the shredded paper. The piggies love it.

  29. Geek in Texas says:

    Paper. We print tons of it at work, almost all one-sided. I use the back for scratch paper, and take stacks of it home for my printer. Unless it’s a formal letter or something, I rarely use “fresh” paper. The last time I bought a ream was about 2 years ago.

  30. Lizard says:

    Tombuch’s post made me wonder: It’s great to conserve plastic bags and stuff, but what about conserving water? It takes energy and equipment to purify that water and pump it to your house. How much water is it worth using to save one plastic bag?

    • Liisa says:

      How long does a plastic bag take to decompose? My 10 year old told me that plastic wrap never decomposes. He has asked me to start using tupperware again and will take the teasing from unintelligent kids at lunch. If you freeze bread products, homemade waffles and muffins, then you don’t need to wash the ziplock. Just fold up and store in the freezer between use. After a couple months I toss out, or use once for frozen meat then toss.

  31. Skippy says:

    Use the Sunday paper (especially the comics and sports or section of interest) as packing material for care packages. Also use newspaper (comic section works best) as wrapping paper instead of buying it for Christmas and Birthdays.

  32. Manda says:

    Oh, God. How number 6 brings back the nightmarish memories. My grandmother was a hoarder. After she passed we cleaned out her house, and would you believe that she had a whole half a room, floor to ceiling, of tissue paper boxes stuffed with plastic bags? Of course, it wasn’t exactly in all one room, but I promise you, it was that much. The joy of finally working through another bedroom (or the hallway) only to find another wall, or another shelf, or another bathroom full of saved plastic bags in tissue boxes. *shudder*

  33. Stace says:

    A lot of small business people who operate on Ebay are constantly looking for fresh supplies of packing material – we have a coworker whose wife does this so whenever I find I have too many to store, I just bring them in for her. Try your local ebay “storefront” as well.

  34. Paul says:

    Another use for used dryer sheets:

    They pick up hair and lint from the floor pretty well, e.g. in the bathroom. Put it under your foot, and sweep around. Store a bunch in an empty facial tissue box.

    Think about it: in the dryer, they /repel/ hair and lint so they can go to the lint catcher; once “spent”, they do the opposite – pick up hair and lint.

  35. Shelina says:

    I make coaster and placemats out of old newspapers and magazines. Just fold neatly into strips and weave them.

  36. Rod says:

    I’d really like to see a list of things I can use before AND after tossing. Like, kleenex is definitely a good example of this. Also old towels.

  37. Spuds says:

    cool site. Some useful tips.

    Always re-use the plastic supermarket bags you get. They make good rubbish bags.

  38. Christense Andersen says:

    I never thought of reusing cereal liners, and I love it, but please, don’t put them in the microwave! It’s bad for your health to microwave anything covered in plastics like cereal liners or plastic wrap. Any plastics are unhealthy to put in the microwave, but I would especially recommend avoiding using something like cereal liners that is not made specifically to use in the microwave.

  39. PJ in SF says:

    Jeez… For a “recycling” post there sure are a lot of ideas for starting fires. Fireplaces should be banned worldwide for all of the particulate matter that they introduce into the air we breathe.

    • Alicia says:

      PJ, when fires are burnt correctly, and with the right amount of oxygen, they burn cleanly. The carbon that they release is no more than the carbon that would have been released anyway when the firewood would have rotted. Some areas have no choice but to have a fireplace for warmth, and in our case for heating water. Even with our triple glazing and insulation :-)

    • RH says:

      Our electric goes out every winter from snow/ice storms. If we didn’t have a wood stove we would freeze. For firewood, we cut trees that have been felled by the previous winters’ heavy snows.

  40. Barthy says:

    I take silly blog-posts and re-use them as joke fodder.

  41. Marc says:

    Old toothbrushes are great for cleaning just about anything with tiny crevices. They’re also great for scrubbing out tiny stains from clothes.

  42. Connie says:

    The containers that liquid coffee creamer come in are excellent for sugar storage. The lids snap closed which keeps the ants out.

    I used a mesh/net vegetable bag for my bath soap. You can put small pieces of soap in it, or even motel soap. Tie the end and use it to scrub your feet.

    Torn up paper egg cartons go in the compost. Newspaper can also be composted. Avoid using the slick advertising sections. Colored ink is OK.

  43. John says:

    I have two ideas to add.

    Paper Towel Rolls
    It takes some getting used to, but I use these (and especially those from toilet paper rolls) as cat toys. They play for about a week, then I recycle, then when the next one is ready, they’ve forgotten they were bored with it.

    Dryer Lint
    We use dryer lint along with paper towel rolls as firestarters. If you poke some holes in the paper towel roll, then stuff the inside with dryer lint, it burns nice and hot for a few minutes.

    • Jennifer says:

      need longer than a minute, add in regular (fried) potato chips to the lint, it is how we get a campfire going. wont that turn your stomach?

    • Sheryl says:

      Glad you mentioned this. Also, cats love the toilet paper rolls if you throw some dried food in there, crimp up the ends a bit, then “hide” it somewhere. Cats naturally want to hunt for their dinner (prey).

    • Sylvia says:

      Thank you for that idea. We have a large family therefore lots of tp rolls and lots of lint. I learned last year that lint works *sometimes* as fire starters in our woodstove but most of the time not. The used dryer sheets work better if you have a bundle of them. As for the guy who says fireplaces should be banned, well, for the last 3 years that woodstove is the only heat we have had in our house.

  44. TV Spy says:

    great overall tips,

  45. Background Check says:

    I think I’ll pass on the butter wrappers. Sounds like more of a mess than something useful.

  46. Karen says:

    Please, please be careful when using newspapers to line cat litter boxes or animal cages. The ink from the papers can transfer to the animal’s feet (particularly if it gets wet) and can cause them to become ill. This happened to my cats. I never tried it again.

  47. Mary says:

    It is important to remember that this is about being smart with the environment. When someone has too much of something…(such as the grandma)there are plenty of others that could use it…such as shelters (the residents can use the stuff) schools, etc.

  48. Nancy says:

    Cereal liner bags: I used to wrap my Lunch sandwiches in them when I worked. just open them at the seam wrap your sandwich, unwrap at work and you also have a ready “place mat” for your chips pickle and the mayo/mustard/ketchup on the sandwich won’t leak thru to your table or lunch bag. Cereal boxes can be cut to become magazine holders also. Leave them like that and magic marker the magazine name on an end or make em pretty w/ paint, construction paper, etc. but that’s so much more work.

    Toilet paper tubes work great for storing the messy cords on your counter, fold excess up, twist tie tog and insert in holder.

    Tissue boxs kept by sewing machine will hold thread clippings, material throw aways, broken needles (anchored in a bit of thrown away material) andlint. When box is full, toss in garbage or recycle bin (w/o the needle)

    Fabric softener sheets: makes foundations for strip quilting. I cut them in half for first use. Seems to work.

  49. Pauline says:

    The little plastic squares on loaves of bread make a great holder for on the end of tapes such as duct, painters, shipping, masking, etc. No more folding the tape over so you can find the end.

    Small pill bottles or the film cannisters are a good container for sharp objects that need to be discarded such as needles, craft blades, razor blades, etc.

    Sewing needles can be reused once they have gotten dull; a couple of rubs across an emery board and they work fine. Works for both hand and machine needles.

    I keep two small pill bottles in my sewing area. One for needles that need resharpening and one for those that can’t be used anymore.

    The mesh bags that fruits and veggies come in can be used again at the store when you pick up loose fruit and vegetables. And they can be washed if something happens to get squished. Use them at the local Farmer’s Market.

    Plastic grocery sacks can be given to local charities, especially food banks or such. They would love to have them.

    I keep a small bright fabric tote by my back door that contains all the things I will need when I go shopping. Fabric grocery bags, mesh bags for veggies, coupon holder, etc. The bright color makes sure I’ll see it as I go out the door.

    • Pauline says:

      Since I posted this I’ve come across a new item for reuse. The tomatoes at my store now come in a rectangular plastic container with a lid. I cut the lid off one and use it as a small tools catchall beside my sewing machine. I use the bottom as my catchall for pens, nail clipper, etc in one of the drawers of my coffee table. A second one was combined with a toilet paper roll and resides in my bead storage container. I wrapped all my wires around the roll, placed it in the plastic box and now I can find all my wires easily and don’t have to worry about them getting tangled with other items.

      Found this tip elsewhere. Fold a outdated or sample credit card lengthwise at about 3/8″ from the top, drill three or four holes in the larger part of the card. Make a cut with a utility scissors into the drilled holes. Attach with small screws to the back of your computer desk or table. You can slip electric cords or cables into those holes to help keep the back of your desk neater. Or your TV area for that matter.

  50. Steyr says:

    Not a tip but a request:
    Any ideas as to how to reuse the spindles that bulk CD’s/DVD’s come on?
    Apart from a bowl or a bagel sandwitch holder ?

    • Faith says:

      Possible uses for the spindle from bulk CD,s
      1. ring toss game
      2. hold a roll of toilet paper or paper towel
      3. hold bracelets or other jewelry
      4. hold large sets of keys (like on coiled key rings
      5 wind extension cords or strings of lights
      6. use to hold yarn or rubber bands
      7. for ponytail olders

    • flibberlips says:

      I use that whole container for storing tea bags and splenda.Works great.

  51. Linda Fisher says:

    I use old ketchup bottles to put my vegetable oil in, so I can squirt in what I need when I’m cooking.

  52. Linda Fisher says:

    A good thing to clean mirrors and windows with is rubbing alcohol. It gets them really shiny.

  53. Linda Fisher says:

    When you have a lot of hairspray buildup on your hair use a little baking soda in your shampoo. It gets rid of the buildup and makes your hair squeaky clean.

  54. Christy says:

    I use the plastic grocery bags for mailing items and cushion for storing items too… I am to cheap to buy bubble wrap!

    • Michele says:

      pop popcorn. plain .. it is light weight. I ship my sister items to California all the time with it. Then she feeds her birds when she gets something from me.

  55. Julia says:

    Steyr,

    I’ve used my husband’s CD/DVD spindles to store unused cables. It keeps them from getting dirty and tangled, but it can only store only certain sizes and lengths.

  56. Roxanne says:

    My father always kept the cereal liners for crushing crackers, cereal, nuts, etc., with the rolling pin. The edges of the nuts don’t poke through as easily and if you end up with extra you can just leave them in the bag.

  57. marge says:

    I carefully open a plastic dhl delivered package and when needed, turn the plastic inside out and use it to mail any item that would fit. Best example is books or if you want to return an item you bought on-line and destroyed the original packing when you were opening it.

  58. Mom1 says:

    Great ideas! I use the plastic leftover bags from the grocery store not only for garbage can liners, but we use them for lunches and when we scoop the cat litter boxes and then i always have one with for when we walk the dogs.. work much better then a scooper.

    Also washing aluminum foil that isn’t really use (my grandma does this), or saving the plastic trays from microwave meals.. The ones who are washable can be reused a few times.

    I save my old butter and plastic containers, wash them and use them as leftovers or cat water bowls.

  59. Elizabeth says:

    I would think twice about using old laundry detergent caps to measure food items. I would be concerned about leftover traces of the chemicals that could make someone sick. I do hand wash and recycle margarine tubs to measure dry cat food, however.

  60. Maria says:

    Also, to avoid ziploc from getting dirty (especially grease from meats, cooked veggies etc), I wrap before in Saran Wrap. Saran Wrap is cheap enough to use if you buy the supermarket brand. That way, you just give a fast rinse to the bags.

  61. Mary says:

    I saw the post about recycling water bottles. That is a great idea but be careful. My mom works at a hospital and they warn about drinking from bottles that have sat for several hours (especially in a warm car) because of the bacteria build up (think backwash yuck!!) Anyway, be sure to only reuse bottles after washing them, and think about how many hours you have had a bottle opened when you are drinking out of it. That can really make you sick!! Wash those bottles often!

    • Sylvia says:

      I don’t know if it is ok to use brand names here so I will try to make this generic. In the summer I like to reuse soda bottles and sports drink bottles by washing them out, filling with water and putting in the freezer. If you get to them before they are totally frozen they are good for ice cold water. Just remember not to fill them all the way or the bottoms of some of them get warped and won’t sit flat. We are a large family and we never have enough bottles when I put them in the freezer.

    • charmend says:

      When my children were little, I would save the 2 liter soda bottles for water play. I would poke a hole in the lid, fill them with water, and my children could squeeze them and squirt each other with water. We didn’t play with guns, and the water bottles worked better than squirt guns anyway.

  62. nora says:

    i reuse the plastic bags that you get at the grocery store for fresh vegetable. i turn the bag inside out and use it for sandwiches of whatever i need a bag for at the moment

  63. JoAnna says:

    I love these tips.

    I’d only add that I re-use dry-cleaning bags by tying off the end (that the hole for the hangers is in) and then using it as a medium size trash can liner.

    Many of these tips I”d heard before but had forgotten…. so thanks for the reminders!

  64. Shannon says:

    We used the egg cartons for paint palettes when I was a kid. Kids can mix their own colours in the unused sections, and it is easy to clean up.

    We also have a local guy who has chickens and asks for the egg cartons to put eggs in to sell. You give him his old ones back as well, so you could see if anyone local has chicken eggs for sale and if they’d like them :)
    He just writes on the inside of the lid ‘Please return carton’

    • Brenda says:

      We used to have chickens when we lived outside the city limits and I would have gladly traded a dozen free range eggs for a stack of egg cartons you could ask about bartering them.

  65. Marsha says:

    I’d like to add to the bread bag clip reuse idea. The really thick ones that come on potato bags make excellent scrappers to clean the inside of your aquarium. Just be careful to not get too close to the silicone seal in the corners.

  66. gransims says:

    I rinse out cereal bags,let them air dry, fold and store flat til needed. Great for doing shake’n’bake in. Also when freezing meat, cut to the width you need and put 2 layers between each piece of meat. Makes it really easy to seperate the meat when you want a piece. Also, can use for crushing nuts, cereal, bread to make small pieces of crumbs.

  67. gransims says:

    Craft ideas for cereal bags-clean, dry, grate crayon pieces on, fold over itself, cover with paper towel/clean cloth and iron/press. Makes beautiful designs. You can then cut into shapes/designs to hang in the windows, make boodmarks, hearts for Valentines day or whatever holiday.

  68. Glenna says:

    I wash the swifter rags along with my husbands work clothes and reuse them many, many times, especially on the floors.

    Have been reusing ziplock bags also for years .. turn inside out, wash, put in your microwave for 30 seconds to assure they are germ free.

    • flibberlips says:

      I buy the hand sized spa type/cleaning towels and cut out a pattern for my swiffer and reuse them.They attract dirt and dust and rarely wear out.

  69. Keri says:

    I reuse the little aluminum tea light containers to scare birds away from my tomato plants. They don’t like the reflection. I make about 6 cuts along the sides to lay them down, poke a hole in one of the cut pieces and use twist ties to hang up on the cage or string that is supporting the plant. You can also do this with an aluminum pie pan no cutting necessary just poke a hole in the top.

    I also use old receiving blankets for dish towels and cleaning cloths.
    Use an old coffee can for storing kitchen utincels. Baby food jars as a coffee sugar spoon holder. Newspaper and coffee grounds/filters for compost. We used an old lamenated kitchen counter & 2×4′s from pallets to make a folding table in the laundry room.

    just about anything that doesn’t rot can be reused if you get creative enough or the need presents itself.

  70. Marie says:

    Love all the ideas. Shredded mail makes great bedding for animals. I give mine to my urban chicken farmer son for his hen’s boxes and coop,
    Just a note to Ken…plastic water bottles leach chemicals into the water. Invest in a metal bottle, eliminating the need to throw the other away.
    Magazines- drop off at hospital or clinic waiting room. They always welcome new reading material.
    Socks – Old cotton socks work great for dusting or cut them down the middle and they make great rags.
    Socks – Stuff with plastic grocery bags and hang in pantry–pull out for easy use or keep in the trunk. It’s amazing how many times they come in handy!
    My favorite hint over the years is when your soap starts to get small, get out a new bar and press the small, wet soap on the new one. This way you never throw out that sliver of soap.

    • flibberlips says:

      you can also sew old socks together at the toes and reuse in your old mop,towels work great too.I take worn out kitchen towels fold them up and quilt them ,same with dish/clean rags,I also make hot holders that you would put a hot bowl in to take it from room to room without burning your fingers,and top them off with a loop of elastic to hang them on cupboard knobs-cause you know you can never find them when you need them.

      another thing i do is buy and wash new window clings in a theme for birthday cakes and other occasions.Just lay them out on top of a frosted cake and pipe icing around the edges.It loos professional,but dont forget to remove clings before cutting.

  71. femmeflyer says:

    Another use for cardboard paper towel rolls is to place onto the end of your vacuum hose and flatten the other end. It’s great to get under your fridge, washer and dryer, etc. when the crevice attachment just won’t do.

  72. AnnasMom says:

    I definitely would not recommend microwaving the cereal bag liners. They are most definitely made of plastic and may leach chemicals into whatever you are microwaving.

    I do like the idea of using them to crush crackers and separate stacks of hamburger patties. Perhaps you could also use them to create a little greenhouse for your plants to keep them safe from frost? I guess as long as the bag is not opaque, it would work for that purpose.

  73. Christine says:

    I’m not exactly a “spring chicken”, so I expect the earth to last through my lifetime, but if we keep tossing trash into landfills, where will we put our grandchildren, and greats- and gr.greats-?

    I always use canvas bags for planned grocery trips; not that hard, you just need to remember to pick-up the bags before leaving the house.

    My second “land saver” is to use a plastic container when I pick up dinner to go: after my weekly trip to the library, I stop by a chicken restaurant, with my containers for chicken, beans, salad, and drink.

    O-M-Gosh, I feel so virtuous …

    God bless, Christine

    • Charlotte says:

      Sometime the reusable grocery bags can have bacteria in them from chicken or other meats. I read to be careful, wash them or throw away.

  74. Nancy says:

    Empty pop-up tissue boxes can be used in the car for garbage. Wrappers, used tissues/napkins, pop tops, etc. can be contained, and the car stays neat. Even if the box tips over, the mess is contained. The box can be tossed when it is full. No mess, no fuss.

    • Newdaawn says:

      Thanks for this tip. I have found litter bags for the car hard to find. It used to be that my credit union would give them away but no more.

  75. deeds says:

    some of these tips i already know, i guees from partly growing up with old fashioned grandparents. my grandma uses old metal containers from coffee, she takes out the other side with the can opener and places them around the tomato plants to keep from gophers eating at them. my grandma also takes 2 starwberry plastic containers and places the open ends together. with some glue to hold in place and you can place ur painting brushes in the holes to keep them seperated.
    i’m looking forward to some the home made recipes for cleaning supplies when i run out of the stuff that have now. thanks for all the tips!

  76. Juturna says:

    Its great to see people reusing these! It’s all about sustainability nowadays. All of your ideas are great.
    Just to let you know that almost all Cereal Bags that are HDPE are recyclable and are commonly recycled as the Number 2.

  77. saba says:

    After squeezing a lime or lemon, and zesting if you plan to use the zest, put the empty shells in the microwave and turn on high for half a minute or so (depending on the number). Open the microwave as soon as it pings to let the steam fill the kitchen with that citrus fragrance, toss the shells into your rubbish bin to help deodorize that too, and wipe down the damp inside of the microwave with a clean cloth. Three benefits in one.

  78. Jenners says:

    Cereal liners again: I make my own shake & bake coating, so I use the cereal liners to toss my meat (chicken, chops, nuggets) in. Then just toss the whole thing.

  79. terri says:

    does anyone know how to make a dish or pot and pan scrubber from the platic netted potato sacks ?

    • Rebecca says:

      You can cut the netting into usable ‘yarn’ and knit or crochet a pot scrubber. If you’re looking for a super fast way, scrunch it up (think putting on long socks or pantyhose), twist into a figure-8, fold the halves together and secure with a twist-tie or rubber band. Instant pot-scrubber!

  80. Morniel says:

    um, no, don’t use cardboard egg cartons for firestarters; they’re NOT clean cardboard, and may have all kinds of substances which can become hazardous and airborne into your house! when you burn them.

  81. Gretchen says:

    For the pieces of soap that is leftover in the shower (you just can’t use it any more) save up enough and run through a food processor on grate and if you add a little bit of water and clean sand you mold into a shape (you can mold around a rope if you like) let dry and you have a nice piece of garden soap. This is good for washing hands/feet after being in the dirt, the grit in the sand helps scrub your skin off.

    Also, Paper grocery bags, if you have an over abundance (like me) my children make Christmas wrapping paper out of them. We rip them open at the seams and I iron them flat (on low). Once the bags stay flat I make stamps out of sponges for them and they go to town coloring, painting, glittering and stamping the bags. Then we let them dry and wrap gifts in them just like normal. This is an extra special treat for family members and gives the kids something to do. Once that is done they can still be used for fire starters or whatever!!

  82. Lynn says:

    Last year a friend used newspapers to keep weeds down in her garden. I tried it and what a help it is. Have to use 7-8 layers which eventually break down but in the meantime, keep weeds down.

    Also I line outdoor planting pots with packing peanuts in the bottom. Makes it much lighter to move the pot around and also provides drainage.

  83. Holly says:

    I can’t remember the last time I bought garbage bags. Between the dog food bags, cereal bags, and pellets for the pellet stove, I have more than enough. Plastic bags from grocery stores don’t work anymore–they either have holes in them or they aren’t strong enough. Many times I can’t even get my groceries into the house before they fall apart (with my groceries rolling all over the ground.) Now I use cloth bags I’ve picked up at thrift stores or garage sales.

  84. Holly says:

    Save broken plates, vases, flower pots, etc. and use to create your own fancy stepping stones. They have more meaning–each time you go out to the garden, you remember that plate, vase etc.

  85. Mary says:

    After using a lemon in cooking, take 1/2 and put it in the disposal, It cleans out any odors.

  86. janet says:

    Plastic mesh that covers vegetables like onions etc,makes a great gift wrap. Use some tissue or gift wrap first, then stretch and tie the plastic mesh around that. Looks great!

    • flibberlips says:

      If you flip potato chip bags that have the shiny silver inside,they make make great gift bags.Tie shut with lots of curling ribbon and your done.It will probably be near the first to be opened since it grabs your attention.Also if you cut a slit in a 2 or 3 litre clear pop bottle -down part of the length and squeeze the opening,you can use it as a showcase of gifts by placing them inside and toping with more curling ribbon.It’s very nice when done.A friend of mine uses saved newspaper and spray paints for christmas wrapping paper,she says why buy paper when you do buy the newspaper and just throw away wrapping paper after the gifts are opened.I try and use thrift store boughten or i make cloth bags instead of wrapping paper,you get infinite reuses from them and no garbage.

  87. jenny says:

    If you have brown paper grocery bags{haven’t seen them in years] you can make a picture frame look like leather.

    What you do is- Soak the bags till very wet, then scrunch them up, then tear in not too small pieces, lay them on a wood picture frame to cover. When dry take them off and then glue them on again in randem patern, then stain. Let dry and they look like leather.

  88. Gerri says:

    Caution:
    It is OK to use plastic bags but …. plastic bags with printing on the outside should never be turned inside-out. Most of these bags are manufactured and printed in China and they are known to use lead-based paint.

  89. Stephie says:

    I reuse sour cream containers to store baking soda in. I make holes on the top lid and then use the container as a shaker over the cat litter after cleaning. Then I leave the baking soda nearby the litter so the deodorizing continues.

    • flibberlips says:

      If you save parmesan cheese shaker containers you can use them for anything dry-even body powder.I use a squeeze bottle with the slit (like the jelly ones)for baking powder when doing dishes,as it increases your dish soap power.

  90. Kellie says:

    This is a great tip with summer around the corner. Use the mesh vegetable bags to store outdoor, beach, or bathtime toys. When play is done, put toys in the bag and blast them with the hose or dunk them in the water to rinse of dirt, sand, or soap. Hang the mesh bag to dry for next time!

  91. Lotto says:

    Although I normally buy my eggs in a cardboard pkg, I have a plastic egg container I use for my boiled eggs. No mistakes!

    I use the mesh produce bags for cleaning tiny items in my dishwasher on the top shelf. Just fill and use a bread bag tie to keep things collected.

    When I make my own liquid laundry soap or all purpose cleaner, I store it in an empty gatorade bottle. Easy to share with others, too!

    You may find shredder paper welcomed at your local Humane Society. I take mine there for them to use in cages for the hamsters, gerbils, etc.

    Emptying those bagless vacuum cleaners can be a mess. I like to take a drycleaner bag and tie a knot in the end that the hanger comes through, and invert it so the knot is on the inside of the bag. Then I usually go to the garage and empty the contents into the bag. It’s a great way to keep the area you are cleaning, dust free, since the bag is so long it really helps, and you don’t need to waste a regular kitchen garbage bag.

  92. kath says:

    In the UK, we get small 1 pint bottles of milk from the supermarket and they have a fairly, sturdy plastic bottle with a screw lid. Clean out when empty and use for stock to put in the freezer. Larger 2 & 4 pint bottles; clean out, cut in half, fill bottom half with compost and pack down well, plant cutting in the compost and tape back the top half of the bottle. The seedling or cutting can be raised in the bottle as long as you water it and the bottled plant can even be wrapped up well and sent through the post. I have received small plants like this, with well established roots and I think this is a great little tip to pass on

  93. Kellie L says:

    I use the bread bag square plastic clips to hull strawberries. Works perfectly.

  94. Pam Nicodemus says:

    Leftover wax paper. I give it to the grandchildren to clean off the slide on the playground equipment. Makes it super slick

    I use a small empty coffee can in the laundry room to place the dryer lint.I cut a small hole in the plastic lid. One small can holds several loads of lint. When it is full, I put the lint outside for nesting material for the birds. And since the can is within sight, the other family members use it instead of laying it on the dryer, and the can takes up much less space than a trash can.

  95. Whitney says:

    Go one step further (adding baking soda to shampoo) and leave out the expensive shampoo! Put a couple of Tbls baking soda in a pint of water in a spray bottle, and the same amt of vinegar/water in another spray bottle. Spray the baking soda solution into hair and work it into scalp thoroughly. Rinse. Then spray the vinegar solution and work it in well. Rinse. It will NOT smell of vinegar once dry! Works great–might seem sticky for the first several days as build-up from hair products gets loosened and dissolved, but persist. Even oily hair does welll, because the oil glands slow down production when they’re not having to keep up with shampoo stripping the oils. CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP.

  96. Sandra says:

    This one is from my Dad. He takes the plastic pants hangers from stores (the one’s they give you when you buy something) and cuts the clip from each side and sands the sides to make sure they aren’t sharp. We use them for “chip” clips. I love my chip clips and always need more!

  97. tobi wagner says:

    my grand chilren and i used brown paper bags torn them up and used them for the leather affect for wall paper in my batroom just used wallpaper paste to apply. looks great we crumble them up by hand flated them all does look like leather

  98. Ami says:

    Used fabric softener sheets are good for getting deodorant off of your clothing. Just rub it on the deodorant stain and it will fade away!

  99. Vicky (The Crafty Rocker) says:

    Just a couple of things:
    Paper coffee filters (unused) are great for cleaning glass (mirrors, etc.)
    I crochet covers for my Swiffer – just crochet (or knit) a strip long enough to fit the bottom and to flip over the top on each side. You can either stitch it in place or pin it on. Either way, it can be thrown in the washer and reused many times. Picks up dust and hair better than Swiffer sheets, I think.) You could also use a sweater that “shrank” in the dryer. Cut a strip and do the same thing as with the crocheted strip.
    Packing material – instead of foam peanuts you can use plastic zipper baggies. Blow them up as much as you can and zip closed. Pack item in box and line with air filled baggies.

  100. Julie says:

    Sounds like I’m watching a bad episode of hoarders.

  101. Josey says:

    Crystal Light containers make great colored pencil and paint brush holders. Takes up less space than a pencil box! Also the new plastic French’s fried onions containers are great crayon boxes.

  102. Nancy says:

    I use toilet paper and paper towel rolls as fire starters. Just stuff them with dryer lint.

  103. Mary says:

    Over the years I have used old envelopes to write my grocery list on and put my coupons inside. I would never reuse styrofoam trays from meat as bacteria can never be removed no matter how much you clean it. To make great fire starters, take cardboard egg cartons and fill with dryer lint, then melt old candles and pour the wax carefully on the dryer lint.

  104. grammah says:

    I haven’t seen this one. I cut used dryer sheets in half lengthwise and line my shoes with them. I never have anymore trouble with static electric shock when I reach for the freezer doors in the super market or when I reach for the car door.

  105. Lisa says:

    Dampen used fabric softener sheets to clean soap scum & water spots from shower walls & doors. Rinse with water and wipe dry. Works better than harsh chemical cleaners & cleans glass shower doors beautifully.

  106. RH says:

    I use plastic grocery bags for rugs outside. I cut them down both sides and braid into one long continuous braid. I start winding the braid in a spiral and use old fishing line to hold the braid together. If you don’t have fishing line, dental floss works pretty well. Sometimes I crochet the cut bags instead. You can also do the same with bread bags.

  107. Amity says:

    Great to see all the tips.

    Believe it or not we reuse baking paper sometimes up to 4 times. U can wash it under the tap, hang it up and when it dries its good as new. Use it to light the fire when it gets too manky!

    We never chuck out ziplocks until they’ve been used to death, but be careful if you store meat in them.

    Re use hubby’s old work boots for planters, also keep and reuse all punnets you buy seedlings in. They’re good for 3-4 more uses, or donate them.

    Any plastic bags are great for bin liners.

    Save hard plastic strapping tape (like the stuff they bind garden hoses with) for the sewing room – great stiffening for bag handles, tops of totes etc.

    Old cds/dvds are good for coasters, or hang in vege garden to scare the birds.

  108. Michelle A says:

    Envelopes can be recycled as envelopes. Just carefully open one edge to take contents out. When you reuse it, simply cover your address, with a stick on label with the new address, or write it on a piece of paper and stick that on. Use tape to seal open edge.

    Magazine pages can be made into envelopes. Take a standard envelop and undo all the edges carefully. Lay on a piece of cardboard and trace around, then cut out. Score along fold lines. You now have a template to make your own envelop. Stick sides together and use a blank, white label to address.

  109. sheree says:

    I take plastic bags and i have a sock full of them for small trash can liners.I reuse the vegetable bags in a bowl for cleanup while cooking. I save all the empty envelopes i get from junk mail and keep for shopping trips (write the list on the back of the envelope and can save coupons inside). I also use them for scrap paper. I make plarn cut plastic grocery bags into strips and crochet grocery bags. ive also done this with old tshirts. i use sturdy yogurt cups to start my seedlings in. I print on both sides of the paper for most things. I fill clean socks that have lost their partners and fill with rice for a reusable heating pad.

  110. Mary S says:

    Empty toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls can be split down one side and placed around wrapping paper rolls to keep the paper from unrolling or getting mangled on the edges.


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