I found an article in Natural Home (Mar/April 2009) written by Misty McNally called Find Your Repurpose: Trim your budget and your planetary impact by reusing "garbage.
When it comes to the three Rs - reduce, reuse, recycle - reduce is the trump card, but reuse comes in a close second. Making something new from something used saves money and resources - and makes you feel good, too.
"The key is, whenever you have something you're going to throw away, stop and think, "Is there some way I could make use of this?" says Todd Larsen, corporate resposibility director for Green America (formerly Co-op America: www.greenamericatoday.org). "It's a habit we could all get into."
Stumped? Let the kids figure out what to do with it, Larsen says. "They have the greatest imagination - a kid will make a telescope or a toy out of it, or use it for a craft or something else they're building. The most creative ideas come from them."The article continues with tips and suggestions for different areas of your household, I'm selecting the simplest ones that do not need any special skills, such as sewing (use of sewing machine).
Coming out of the closet
- Don't Ditch The Shirt over a lost button. Remove the button youre least likely to see and use it as a replacement. Or buy different buttons for a brand new look.
- Host A Clothing Swap Party Invite all of your friends to bring their unwanted clothes and trade!
- Tear T-Shirts Into Rags for washing windows, waxing the car or paint clean-ups.
- Worn-Out Knees On Your Jeans? Make cut-offs.
- Put together a kids' clothing exchange at your church, neighborhood association or scouting troop. Then let the kids show off their wardrobe-swap favorites at a fashion show.
- A Picture Frame With No Glass makes an interesting dresser tray.
- Hang Your Curtains On Something Different: an old garden tool handle, a piece of rustic rope, a tree branch or cut pipes and fittings.
- Paper Towels: Use cloth dish towels or rags; retired hand towels or washcloths are great for kitchen duty.
- Disposible Sheets For Floor-Duster Mops: Use an old washcloth or a rectangle cut from a towel or flannel shirt - their washable.
- Gift Wrap: Reuse a gift bag, the Sunday comics, or brown paper bags.
- Save Cans, milk and egg cartons, yogurt containers and cardboard flats for starting garden seeds indoors.
- Plant Flowers In Old Boots, dented kitchen pots or chipped teapots.
- Forego Nursery Plants - get to know your neighbors by swapping cuttings from your yards.
- Old Pie Plates, steel cans and other shiny or noisy objects, when strung from fences and trellises, make effective scarescrows.
- Have the kids make a Real Scarecrow from old clothing stuffed with rags.
- Make Stock Of It All. Save onion and celery tops, carrot peelings, wilted greens, tomato cores, asparagus stems, meat bones, fish heads or shrimp shells for delicious soup stock. Keep them in the freezer until you have enough.
- A little Leftover Bacon Grease makes delicious homemade salad dressing; just add vinegar and sugar.
- Reuse Cottage Cheese And Sour Cream Containers to freeze leftovers or store kids' game pieces.
- Egg Cartons make great organizers, especially for kids' trinkets. They also can be made into a board for mancala, or wari, a traditional African game. For a truly kid-captivating project, add papier-mache made from newspaper strips, then paint.
- Reuse Your Calender - purchase a perpetual one that works for every year. If you have a day-by-day calender, use the backs of the sheets for grocery lists and reminder notes.
- Give One-Sided Copies to your kids to use as drawing paper.
- Cut the top and side out of a Cereal Box to make a magazine holder.