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How Trash Can Save Cash: Repurposing to Reduce Spending

How Trash Can Save Cash: Repurposing to Reduce Spending
Christina Hammarberg

Stop! Step away from the trash bin. Before you dump something old, busted or empty, take a moment to consider how it might be used in a way that it was not originally intended for. Years ago, our parents and grandparents were masters of reusing old things to save money. And it worked! Reusing and recycling is about so much more than helping the environment. With a bit of creativity, you can rethink your trash and save your cash.

Reuse and Recycle: New Uses for Old Junkupcycled bottle pendant

When you find yourself with an empty package, take a closer look. If it is sturdy enough, could it possibly be used for another purpose, like storing or organizing? Here are a few examples:

Plastic Jugs

Whether it once held milk, juice, iced tea or cat litter, a thoroughly cleaned plastic jug has numerous possibilities according to, including:

  • Storing other foods or liquids, such as homemade beverages. Use a jug to transport a beverage to or from a party.
  • Fill it with water or sand to use as a weight when camping, boating or working out.
  • Cut off the top half and use as a seedling starter.
  • Cut the back off (where the handle is) and use it as a scoop for seeds, dog food, rock salt, fertilizer, etc.

Cardboard Rolls

Once that last paper towel – or square of toilet tissue – is gone, save the cardboard roll inside. There are many of ways to reuse these cardboard cylinders.

  • Organizing. For a simple organizing solution, fill an empty cardboard box with the paper towel or toilet paper tubes. This can be used to store all sorts of items, from pencils and pens to extensions cords and electronics cables.
  • Packing. Cut tubes into pieces and use as packing material. A much “greener” solution than packing peanuts or bubble wrap.
  • Gardening. Dig a hole deep enough to fit a short tube and sprinkle the seeds inside. Cover it with dirt. The cardboard keeps the seeds tidy and spaced out from other seeds, and it eventually biodegrades.
  • Crafting. There are so many options for crafting with cardboard tubes. There are even entire Pinterest boards dedicated to them!

Squeezable Plastic Bottles

Hold on to those squeezable ketchup and dressing bottles. They are perfect for housing liquids for the long or short term, particularly if you need to dispense those liquids in portions. For example:

  • Pancake or cookie batter
  • Decorative frosting
  • Homemade condiments
  • Acrylic paints

Go a Step Up and Upcycleupcycled totebag-t shirt

Upcycling puts a “craftier” spin on the concept of reusing and recycling, and it has gained popularity over the years. Many upcycled objects are redesigned and refinished to take on a new life entirely. For some truly inspired upcycling ideas, check out Below are a few ideas to get you started.

Clothing and Linens

Old shirts, pants, sheets and towels could simply be recycled into cleaning rags, but with a few simple steps, they could be upcycled into entirely new garments or accessories.

  • A pillowcase can be transformed into a drawstring bag for jewelry, delicates, etc. – and no sewing is required. Just make a few snips through the seam around the case's opening and weave a ribbon or a shoelace through.
  • Tee shirts are extremely versatile articles of clothing. They can easily become tank tops, hats, scarves, wine sleeves, decorative pillows, pot holders, even dresses! Visit Generation T's website for tons of ideas.
  • Get a new storage bag from an old pair of sweatpants. Cut the legs off and tie or sew one end closed. You can add a drawstring to the other end or leave open and use it to store empty plastic bags, yarn, wrapping paper or even your yoga mat.

Glass Bottles and Jars

Why spend money on decorative glassware when you already have them in your home?

  • Glass jars can store food, drinks or small objects (just keep the lid).
  • Glass jars can also be used as unique gift “boxes.”
  • Lidless jars become votive candle holders.
  • Use an empty glass pop or wine bottle on your dresser to store bracelets. Just loop the bracelets over the bottle and they will stay untangled and accessible.

There are so many ways to turn old into new without spending a cent. Get creative whether you reuse, recycle or upcycle - you never know what you might come up with!


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