Recycling * Reuse * Recycle Household Items * Compost * Recycle Paper * Reuse Fabrics

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Sixty-Five Creative Uses for Household Discards

household reuse

Recycling means no more than taking paper, aluminum and glass to the proper place for disposal. There is a completely new world open to those who know and understand what recycling really means. Recycling is looking at something and seeing it in a completely new light - What could this item be with a little reworking and imagination?

Kitchen Items

Ever year, we buy compost we could have made at home for free. We buy plant food that we wouldn't have needed if we had not unknowingly, poured so much of it down the drain. Here are some more things we could save on:

  • Add any fat-free food scraps such as leftovers, peels and cores to a compost pile.
  • Use water you cook vegetables or fruit in to water plants. It's full of nutrients.
  • Use bottles and jars for storage or gift containers.
  • Pringles cans make good storage for saltine crackers and keep them fresh.
  • Cans can be used for cookie cutters, pencil holders or a play phone for your child.
  • Use butter containers for storage in your craft room or shop.
  • Bread bags can be woven into doormats or used to wrap sandwiches for work.
  • Chipped or broken dishes make great mosaics for garden art.
  • Old flatware makes unique mobiles, jewelry or drawer pulls.
  • Save the fat from your deep fryer and learn to make soap with it.
  • Use woven potato sacks to scrub grill racks, pots and pans.
  • Make a bottle tree for your garden with old wine bottles.

Computers and Electronics

Before you throw out that old computer monitor or TV, take it apart and look at the components with an artistic eye. You may find some wonderful, unique uses for it. Here are a few:

  • Ever notice how much the motherboard looks like an aerial view of a big city? Well, remove it, do some fine detail painting, frame it and use it as an art piece.
  • Make a robot out of the various pieces.
  • Use computer chips to make jewelry, tiny picture frames or game pieces.
  • Use the LED lights and wiring in a dollhouse.
  • Create pop art from different components.
  • Use monitor as a shadow box.

Roofing Shingles

There are always a few pieces of slate, cedar or asphalt shingles left after a roofing job. You can use these for many different things. Such as:

  • Tack to a tree, spread with peanut butter and let the birds have a feast.
  • Use as a unique textured clock face.
  • Roof a doghouse. Don't have enough? Roof a birdhouse.
  • Place cedar shingles in your closets to shoo away moths.
  • Run cedar shingles through a chipper and use as mulch.


Remember, you can change the shape of a tire by cutting it with a utility knife or shredding it. Don't put food plants in a tire, but flowers are fine. Other uses for tires:

  • Make your child a swing.
  • Make a planter or raised bed by stacking them.
  • Learn how to make sandals from tire treads.
  • Make a bumper for your boat.
  • Keep your trash can from overturning by placing it in a tire.

Newspapers and Magazines

Before you throw out that newspaper or magazine, think of how often you need to buy paper for notepads, greeting cards, reports and stationary. Can any of the paper you have be reused? Here are some ideas:

  • Make your own paper from the waste paper you usually throw away. Fun and easy!
  • Cut pictures and images from magazines for clip art and decoupage projects.
  • Create your own note pads using the back of letters you receive.
  • Create piñatas and sell them on eBay.
  • Create photo mats from gift boxes and cereal boxes. Cover with fabric or paper.
  • Make an origami mobile from colorful magazines and gift-wrap.

Fabrics Past Their Prime

Just because a fabric is worn or faded, doesn't mean it is ready to discard. Use it up and have less to throw away.


  • Make a unique patchwork quilt, apron, vest, wall hanging or floor cloth.
  • Make safe, soft, washable stuffed animals with sewn eyes and mouths for babies.
  • Make a rag doll and her wardrobe.
  • Make washable bed clothes for your dog.
  • Create your own washable shopping bags.


  • Great dust attracting dust cloths
  • Make a warm, quilted crazy quilt or lap cover.
  • Use for appliquéing on clothing, cushions and throws.
  • Make hand warmers filled with rice to be heated in the microwave.
  • Cut in strips and braid into a new scarf.


  • Make your pet a chew toy.
  • Make a doll's wardrobe; shoes, gloves, hats, vests and coats.
  • Make fringe of it and add to a vest, pocketbook or jeans pocket.
  • Use in arts and crafts or for jewelry making.
  • Make patches for elbows and knees.
  • Make a bookmark.


  • Braid old silk ties into a unique belt and add a jeweled buckle or braid a dog collar.
  • Make a clip on tie or a bow tie.
  • Make a cushion cover and add pearls and lace.
  • Make a fancy hanky with fine embroidery.
  • Make a new cover for an old lampshade. Glue or stitch on new braid or bead trim.

Dryers - Doors - Windows - Commode Tanks - Water Hose

Just look at your junk pile and see things in a different light. Break them down to their basic forms and ask yourself these questions:

  • "What does this do?" Leak, hold something, hang, hold up, revolve, absorb, cover, etc.
  • "What do I need that is similar to this item?"
  • Punctured water hoses are good for drip irrigation in your garden.
  • Use a commode tank for a planter in your garden by spraying with a textured paint.
  • Add a glass top and legs to an old door for a desk or occasional table.
  • Window frames can be used for garden art or as picture frames in your home.
  • Remove the tub from a dryer, paint it to match your décor, turn it upside down and place a light under it to shine through the holes. Use the top of an old card table for the top and you have created a unique coffee table.

If, you still can find absolutely no use for something, you no longer need, give it to someone who can use it. Join a chapter of your local free cycle and offer it online. You can find one in your community online.

But, before you call Free-cycle, lay it aside for a few days and see if the needs of your everyday life present a solution. A need might spark your imagination as you seek creative uses for household discards. That is, after all is said and done, what recycling is all about.