Reduce, reuse, recycle; it’s not just a waste management suggestion. It should be a way of life to help the environment and your wallet. One of the easiest ways to do so is by using reusable items instead of disposable ones. From laundry detergent bottles to coffee cups, there are countless items that we use once and throw away, often without a second thought.
Not only will investing in reusable alternatives reduce the amount of stuff you throw away, it’ll also save you a bundle. The following is a list of reusable items (and reusable materials) you should definitely be saving instead of tossing. I’m sure you have “must-saves” to add to this as well. (Tell us in the comments!)
But there are always some things you need to buy again and again. In those instances, stop by the Krazy Coupon Lady coupons page to clip and save. For more saving tips, text HACKS to 57299.
1. Keurig K-Cups are perfect reusable items for starting seedlings.
The next time you make coffee in a Keurig, think twice about tossing out the used K-Cup. These tiny plastic cups make excellent reusable products by filling them with potting soil and seeds. When you water your seeds, the water will drip out through the hole in the bottom — it’s the perfect vessel!
By the way, don’t throw away the coffee grounds in the used K-Cup. You can use the grinds as fertilizer for your plants; especially for rose bushes.
Related: When you’re ready to build your own raised garden, here are some great tips to get it done yourself.
2. Cereal boxes and bags can be reusable materials for plastic lids and food uses.
Searching for matching lids to plastic containers is a pain — they slide around in cabinets way too much. If you slice diagonally across a cereal box and remove the top portion (make it look like a magazine holder), you shouldn’t have any issues keeping all your lids in one easily accessible place. Plus, with decorative contact paper, nobody will ever know.
Now that you’ve finished your favorite cereal, did you know that you can use the plastic bag insert, too? Be sure to dump all of the cereal residue. Here are some reuse ideas:
- Cut the bag into squares and use them to separate hamburger patties.
- Store lettuce and other vegetables.
- Use a rolling pin or mallet to pound out whole spices or nuts within the bag.
3. What can be reused to stop smelly shoe odors? An old sock + baking soda.
Thanks to the mysteries of the dryer, I’m sure you have several socks that no longer have a partner. What better way to reuse a sock than to remove shoe smells?
Use a thick sock (no holes) and fill it with baking soda (a natural odor absorber). Then, secure it several times with a rubber band. You could even add a drop of essential oil to the baking soda before placing it in the stinky shoe.
4. Plastic ice cream tubs are cool things you can reuse for pet treats and travel food.
I love using ice cream tubs as reusable household items to store pet treats, but they’re also amazing for packing food for a camping trip. Place a Ziploc bag of ice cubes at the bottom (or get really fancy and freeze a layer of ice on the bottom of each bucket). Then, add your food, and stack in your cooler. They hold up and keep your food organized and cool to boot.
5. One way to reuse an empty Pringles can is to store pasta.
A Pringles can is the perfect height for dry, uncooked pasta, like linguine and spaghetti (heck, even rice). These reusable things are also great for storing plastic grocery bags. To hide the label, you can give these vertical vessels a makeover by painting them with chalkboard paint.
6. Plastic grocery bags are the perfect reusable items to use to clean up after your dog.
Instead of wasting money each month by buying poop bags, try recycling items commonly found around your home. I use plastic bags to pick up poop, flip it inside out, and tie it up. Simple, easy, and mess free.
7. Keep plastic grocery bags organized in a reusable household item — an empty Tide Pods container.
Here’s a dual purpose reuse example that takes little effort. Repurpose an old Tide Pods (or any laundry detergent brand) bottle and use it to store plastic grocery bags. You could stash it under your kitchen sink or even attach it to a wall with Command strips. Plastic bags also make handy reusable materials for travel purposes. Put used undergarments, shoes, or small items in them. like packaged sanitizer wipes or lotion bottles.
8. Contain sewing pins and keep fruit fresher longer with a common reusable item – a wine cork.
Wine corks are tiny things, but they make excellent reuse examples that make life a bit easier. Use them as an organizer for sewing pins — you can just stick and go. This way to reuse corks is also great for traveling with a mini sewing kit.
Not only are these little guys great for keeping pins in one place, they’re also fabulous for helping fruit last longer. Cut a wine cork in half and keep it in your bowl of fresh fruit. The cork — a natural one, not synthetic — absorbs the humidity from the air, which equals slower ripening.
9. Don’t forget reusable products like plastic deli meat containers to carry your lunch or kids’ art supplies.
These make the best containers for leftovers! Mine have been through the dishwasher dozens of times and still seal tight. Plus, they can be used to hold baby wipes for road trips, store and organize small toys, or wrangle art supplies like crayons once the box gives out.
Can you reuse these containers for another purpose? Oh, yeah. Here are a few reuse examples:
- Store a sandwich for lunch (it’s the perfect size).
- Keep your chopped vegetables ready for dinner.
- Make it a travel first aid kit.
RELATED: Clever Ways to Reuse Baby Wipes Containers
10. Old milk cartons are reusable items, too, and they’re great for turning into scoopers.
Milk cartons are typically thrown away (or hopefully recycled), but there’s an upcycling opportunity here.
Wash milk cartons with warm, soapy water and cut the top half off (right above the handle). Now you have an awesome (and decently durable) scooper — which is the best example of reusing — for just about anything (dirt, dog poop, you name it). My kids also have a blast using these as toys in the sand box or at the beach.
11. An empty gum container is one of the best things you can reuse to store loose change.
Taller, flip-top gum containers that are still wrapped are ideal for this reuse example. Clear containers may tempt unwanted visitors lurking around your car. Just store it in your cup holder and keep it moving.
But wait, there are more ways to reuse old gum containers:
- Store Q-Tips or push pins.
- Turn it into a portable snack carrier (yay, Goldfish crackers).
- Keep USB or phone charger cords organized.
12. Old pillowcases, crib sheets, and mattress covers are things you can reuse for multiple purposes.
Whether they have stains, are too small, or have lost their softness, old bedding makes the perfect reusable items for other daily needs. Here are a few suggestions:
- Donate them to animal shelters or humane societies. (The sheets/pads can be used in adoption pens.)
- Use them as seat covers in your car for your animal.
- Donate to thrift stores.
- Repurpose them as drop cloths for painting. (Read about some cost-saving painting tips here.)
- Build a kids’ fort.
- Use them as washable rags for your car.
13. If you need a garden watering can, turn an old laundry detergent container into a reusable item.
This is easily done by drilling several holes in the cap of the container. The more holes, the more flow, so remember this as you drill. If you like to collect rainwater for your plants, you can even repurpose the container to collect rainwater.
There are a lot of reusable items when it comes to gardening. Check out some clever gardening hacks that can save you money.
14. Natural wine corks soaked in rubbing alcohol make handy reusable materials for fire starters.
Here’s another reuse example for natural wine corks — fire starter. Add wine corks to a mason jar along with 90% rubbing alcohol. Let the corks soak for at least a week before using.
For a quick fire starter, the alcohol-soaked corks should work after soaking for two days. Just make sure the corks you burn are made from all-natural cork. Synthetic corks won’t burn as easily.