Like many people, you probably try to reduce, reuse and recycle as many things as possible. If your community offers curbside recycling, it’s tempting to just throw things away and still feel good knowing that they’ll be recycled. What would be even better for the environment is to reuse. There are plenty of surprising ways to do so, and many containers can be repurposed with a minimal amount of effort. Don't believe us? Read on for some of our favorite examples.
Keep Bagels and Donuts Fresh with CD Holders
You know those plastic containers for storing stacks of blank CDs and DVDs? They are perfectly suited for storing bagels and donuts too. If you ever buy bagel sandwiches and would like to keep them from growing stale, just place one in a CD holder and screw on the top as securely as possible. Depending on the toppings, you may also need to put it in the fridge. Either way, this is a fun and clever way to make bagels and donuts last.
Turn a Sink Basket into a File Organizer
The local office supply store is sure to have plenty of options for storing files, letters and other types of paperwork. Why spend your hard-earned cash on that type of organizer when an old sink basket will do the trick? File folders can be lined up just like dishes and filled with paperwork. The utensil caddy is also a convenient place to store pens, pencils and similar supplies.
Keep Food and Drinks Cold Longer with a Milk Jug
There are plenty of ways to repurpose old milk jugs. One clever option that you may not have considered is using one to keep drinks and food cold inside coolers. Simply fill an empty, clean milk jug about half way with water and put it in the freezer. Keep it there until you need to transport food and drinks in a cooler. Compared with loose ice, a frozen milk jug lasts a lot longer, is easier to manage and doesn’t cost a thing.
Use a Yogurt Container to Measure Liquids
Many popular yogurt brands have containers that hold eight ounces of yogurt. One cup of liquid is equal to eight ounces, so you can repurpose these old cups for use as measuring cups. This is especially useful when you have to use several measuring cups during the course of making a complicated recipe.
Turn a Soda Bottle into a Chip Clip
This may sound pretty counterintuitive, but you can use an old two-liter soda bottle to keep bags of chips and other snacks from going stale. The first step is cutting off the uppermost part of the bottle; aim to cut it about one-third of the way down. When you have a bag of food that needs to be sealed, pull the top of it through the spout in the bottle and then fold it down.
Stay Organized with Ice Cube Trays
Are you awash in old ice cube trays, or are you just looking for a quick, affordable way to keep tiny items as organized as possible? In either case, ice cube trays work wonders. Just clean out an old one and stick it in a drawer. Each cube can be used to store small items like thumbtacks, nails, screws and buttons. You can even use a permanent market to designate different cubes for different items.
Save Old Ice Cream Pails
If you ever buy those large pails of ice cream, which usually have handles, don’t throw them away or recycle them. They can be used in a number of clever ways. Fill a clean one with warm, soapy water and carry it around by the handle while cleaning your home. Make sure to keep the lids too because these containers can also be used to store small toys, kitchen gadgets and other items.
Keep Track of Gift Cards with Old Cassette Cases
Still have a pile of old plastic tape cassette cases? If you put your mind to it, even these can repurposed. A terrific example is to use one to store all of your gift cards. Nothing is worse than knowing you have a gift card but not being able to find it. By storing them all in an old cassette case, you’ll always know right where to look. You can also keep business cards from together in this way.
Grow Seedlings in Old Berry Containers
Who doesn’t love berries? The one drawback to buying them at the store is that they come in those clamshell-style plastic containers that don’t seem to have any other real purpose. They actually do, though, because they can be used as mini hothouses to get seedlings going. These containers come in many different sizes, and they work remarkably well for this purpose.
Turn an Old Parmesan Cheese Container into a Shaker
Have you ever tried gracefully sprinkling powdered sugar, cornstarch or other fine materials? If so, you know how awkward it actually is. Save your old Parmesan cheese containers, clean them out and then fill them with powdered sugar, cornstarch and anything else that you’d like to be able to sprinkle easily. These containers also work well for small crackers because their lids usually flip open on one side.
Make Bookcases Out of Crates
Chances are that at least a few stores in your area have more crates than they can possibly ever use. Ask around for old crates and keep them handy. When you accumulate enough of them, you can put them together to create bookcases. The most you’ll probably need is a drill, a few L-shaped brackets and some screws. The nice thing about this is that you can arrange the crates in nearly countless ways. They may not be pretty enough for your living room, but they'll work just as well in your garage or closets.
Keep Magazines Organized with Cereal Boxes
Are you tired of wading through stacks of magazines to find what you need? Would you like to keep reading materials handy without having them fanned out or otherwise creating clutter? If so, take old cereal boxes and use them as magazine or notebook holders. You’ve probably seen the ones they sell at the store. Transforming a cereal box into a magazine organizer is as simple as cutting its sides diagonally so that magazines, notebooks and other materials can be grabbed easily.
Manage Pancake Batter Easily with Old Ketchup Bottles
Pancakes are delicious, but pouring the batter so that it doesn’t get all over the place is easier said than done. Why not take an old plastic ketchup bottle and use it to squirt pancake batter onto the griddle instead? You can even use it to store batter in the fridge for a few days.
Keep Your Baby’s Room Neat with Old Wipes Containers
If you have a baby, you probably also have plenty of old, empty baby wipes containers. They can often be recycled, but they can also be repurposed to keep odds and ends neat and tidy too. Roll up clean washcloths and store them in wipes containers, or use an empty container to keep all of your little one’s creams and ointments organized and readily accessible.
Put Pencils within Easy Reach with Soda Cans
Recycling old soda cans is a no-brainer. Instead, pluck a few of them out of the bin and use them to keep things like pencils, pens, markers and even toothbrushes neat and organized. You may not like the appearance of most soda cans, but that can be remedied with contact paper, wallpaper or other coverings.
Get Seeds Started in Egg Cartons
In many communities, it is impossible to recycle Styrofoam. As a result, egg cartons pose a special challenge. Instead of adding them to local landfills, keep them handy and use them later to sprout seeds inside your home. This will help you get a head start on the growing season by getting seedlings started even before the weather is warm enough for outdoor planting. There’s no need to throw them away after using them like this, either. They can be used again and again.
Make Planters Out of Old, Metal Coffee Cans
Metal coffee cans can be used in a number of ways, so many people have already caught on to the ways to repurpose them. One option that you may not have considered is using old coffee cans as planters. Just drill holes in the bottom of the can so that water can drain out. You may also want to paint the outside of the can a bright, cheery color to complete the look.
Organize Plastic Grocery Bags with Tissue Boxes
Plastic shopping bags can be repurposed in many clever ways. Where are you supposed to store them, though? Before you know it, you’ll be overrun with them. A great way to keep them organized and manageable is by stuffing them into empty tissue boxes. They can then be pulled out whenever they’re needed, and there’s no need to clutter up the house with them.
Store Odds and Ends in Lunch Boxes
Like many children, yours may insist on new lunch boxes every year. They are sturdy enough to be reused to safely store all kinds of things. For example, you can use one to store all of your MP3 players and related accessories.
Keep Ribbons Tidy with Shoe Boxes
By poking small holes in the side of a shoe box and pulling ribbons through them from the inside, you can say goodbye to the days of untangling large masses of ribbon. They sell boxes like these at craft stores, but making one yourself is a snap. There are many other ways to repurpose shoe boxes, so make a point of holding onto them for whenever inspiration strikes.
In addition to helping the environment, repurposing old storage containers keeps your home organized and can even save you money. There's little reason to let unused items go to waste. Just take a moment to consider your options before tossing something out. You'll be surprised how creative you can be!