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16 repurposing ideas to help you waste less and save more

In this photo, a wine bottle is repurposed to be a vase.

You can repurpose a wine bottle as a vase to make your home more cozy. Chris Zuppa / The Penny Hoarder

As we adjust to the economic uncertainty brought on by the pandemic and develop new consumer habits, the “don’t waste, don’t want” mentality has come into play again.

But in reality, “do not waste, do not want”, known today as “recycled” or “reuse”, is simply common sense, like using plastic bags to cover the bathroom trash.

But that’s just the beginning of what you can do with your junk. We’ve rounded up some other repurposing ideas that can save you trips to the store, save you some money, and even save (some) your sanity.

To entertain your children (or your children at heart)

This photo shows cardboard toilet paper tubes reused as a necklace.
Kids can reuse the cardboard toilet paper tubes as a necklace. Chris Zuppa / The Penny Hoarder

1. Toilet paper tubes

The toilet paper rolls have tubes that, once decorated with crayons and stickers, can become kazoos or a tower town.

Cut the decorated tubes into smaller sections to create beads to string on a patio piece or to make a necklace. The Internet has many more suggestions for smart kids of all ages.

2. Produce boxes

Strawberries, blueberries, and other products come in plastic containers that have open slots on the sides. These can make great bath toys because water flows out of them like a strainer, which can create the perfect waterfall or rainforest.

3. Christmas cards

If you have old Christmas cards in stock, poke a hole in the corner of each one and attach them with string or a metal ring. Now you have made a book for the little ones who love to look at photos, especially of other children.

4. Cardboard boxes

Amazon delivery boxes can be stacked to create houses for Barbies or stuffed animals.

Here’s another option: cut the bottoms of the boxes large enough to fit around your child. Help them decorate the boxes to look like a car, then use string or ribbon to create suspenders. Now you can take brisk walks or car races in the backyard or living room.

To use around the house

5. Bags of agricultural products in network

The mesh bag containing the products can be squeezed to clean one or two really dirty pots before throwing them away.

6. Broccoli rubber bands

Those thick rubber bands that surround broccoli bunches make great “splinter clips” for closing food bags or a hair tie in a pinch.

7. Plastic food containers

Plastic containers used for foods like yogurt and hummus can make great storage containers. There really is no need to pay for new plastic packaging. By the time the lids are a little warped from the dishwasher, you can recycle them and start using the next round of empty food containers.

8. Old towels and t-shirts

Old towels and stained shirts cannot be donated, so use them as rags or dishcloths.

You can also cut them into strips and braid them to make a chew toy for your dog.

9. Empty shoe boxes

If you have the time and energy to regroup, use empty shoe boxes or smaller shipping boxes to create drawer organizers. The height of the boxes can be cut to fit the drawers if required.

10. Muffin cups

One of the extra muffin tins that fills your kitchen cabinet is perfect for organizing jewelry.

To take care of your garden

11. Wine bottles

Fill a wine bottle with water, wildflowers, and greenery to make a deck, patio, or front steps that little bit more inviting.

12. Two-liter bottle

An empty two-liter soda bottle can be turned into an easy and lightweight watering can for the extra garden you put in during the first weekend of social distancing.

13. Old sheets

In this photo, an old leaf is reused as a bag for garden leaves.
An old sheet is reused to collect garden leaves. Chris Zuppa / The Penny Hoarder

When raking piles of leaves, pile them onto an old sheet, pull out the four corners, and take them to the trash or mulch pile. The sheet can be used over and over again, so you won’t need to buy grass and leaf bags, garbage bags, or even a wheelbarrow.

To take care of yourself

14. Water bottles

Fill empty water bottles with sand or rocks like hand weights. Plus, here are more ideas for making homemade weights and other DIY fitness equipment.

15. Old bras

A cup from an old bra is a great mask. And here are three more ways to DIY a mask from materials you already have.

16. Cucumbers

Cucumber slices soothe tired eyes from seeing “Bridgerton.” Don’t stop there – we have even cheaper suggestions for a DIY spa day.

Katherine Snow Smith is a Senior Writer at The Penny Hoarder.



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