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What do you Repurpose?

I'm trying to break free of this throw away society. I no longer buy paper plates, paper cups, paper napkins and have been trying to cut back on the amount of paper towels we use, slowly weening the family off them.

I remember when I was a little girl some of the things my grandmother, who lived through the depression, saved and repurposed. I thought, at the time, it was funny when she would wash out zip lock bags and bread bags. Some of the things she reused didnt seem strange to me, such as cool whip containers and egg cartons.

She also would cut off buttons from clothing that was too far gone to be repaired again. Zippers were saved also. The clothing was then cut up for various applications. Shirts and dresses for quilt pieces.

When my grandmother passed away there was a hat box full of buttons, a nut/screw/bolt organizer filled with string, bread ties, and pop can pull rings to name a few as well as bags of material, and bag of zippers. My uncles were laughing about how she was a "pack rat" and was throwing these things away. The buttons, zippers, material and organizer filled with various things came home with me. I've had them for years tucked away in a closet waiting for me to do something with them. I've added buttons to the collection. I love just sorting through them. The vintage buttons have so much personality.

Anyway, back to me, (I could talk about my grandmother all day long) I have been trying really hard of late to reuse anything and everything that normally goes in the trash. Here's a list of things I reuse.

1) Plastic grocery bags are reused to line small trash cans. I've done this for over 10 years.
2) I save my margarine tubs with lids.
3) Egg cartons are saved and reused. In three years I've thrown away maybe two that some how were cracked or crushed. Friends and family save their cartons for me.
4) All old clothing is either cut up to use for rags or if they are still too good for this, (such as my growing boys clothing) it is re-sold or taken to thrift stores.
5) I save bread bags and the wax bags from cereal and snack crackers. My oldest son visited last weekend and was rummaging around in fridge for food. I told him their was left over pizza. He laughed when he finally found it wrapped in a cereal wax bag. "Mom are you out of foil or cling wrap?" I replied "No, but why throw them away when they are clean and you can re-use them?"
6) My feed bags from the chicken food and large outdoor dogs. Stop and think about, they are made strong enough to hold 40-50 lbs of food. They are usually waterproof made from plastic woven material. I use these to throw away kitty litter from the cat boxes, and anything heavy that would tear a plastic trash bag.
7) I do try to use zip lock bags more than once depending upon what they had in them.
8) The plastic coffee containers (big and small) are saved for various reasons. The hubby loves the small ones in his shop for organizing nuts, nails, and bolts.
9) Heavy chip cardboard from things we buy is saved to make templates and crafts.
10) Glass spagetti jars are used for refreezing food.

Is there something you try to repurpose? I would love to hear about them. It might be something I'm over looking and could help me on cutting down on my families waste/trash.


  1. I was planning on doing a "My Hero" post about my grandma, too, today. I wanted to include a picture and I just learned that I don't have any pictures of her. :( So I guess I'll hold that post until I can get a picture from my mom.

    As for repurposing, I do or have done nearly all the things on your list. Also: cloth diapers from when Kat was little are multi-purpose rags now; dish soap bottles are squirt bottles out in Kat's pool; sturdy fountain drink cups with lids get reused at home, then taken back for refills when we are out; old jeans are cut into patches for other work jeans; any box I get is subject to reuse for mailing eBay shipments; shredded junk mail is padding for shipments.

    I'm sure there are more, but that's what I can think of offhand.

  2. You would make your Grandma very PROUD! :-)

    I go most of what you have both said and:

    - save aluminum foil and use it over and over again.

    _ also save store purchased yogurt containers to put my homemade yogurt in.

    - save any spray bottle I can to reuse for homemade cleaning sprays.

    - I am saving my laundry detergent bottles for the day when all my purchased is gone and I make homemade.

    - I reuse newspapers to clean windows and to start a fire in our firepit.

    - I save produce bags to reuse.

    - I have started using microfiber cloths in place of paper towels.

  3. - Those expense bags on a roll for vacuum packing bulk food.
    - Store bags/sacks
    - Newspaper in the garden/flower beds. Lay them down in 1" layers and then cover with dirt to keep the weeds out and the water in.
    - Compost anything I can (made our own composter too)
    - Used some left over siding as the border for our garden.

    And....TAG, you are it. I am tagging you with a meme. I've already linked to you in the post:


    Love what you are doing with your blog too.