Recycle Reuse Repurpose – 20 Ideas for the Home

Since the start of my journey into living more sustainably, I have found a new “talent”. I use that word very loosely….. I seem to be obsessed with looking at items that are being binned, to see if I can make them into something else. As most of you probably know, the golden rule to follow in sustainable living is to follow the three “R’s” Recycle Reuse and Repurpose. I seem to have a mild obsession with the repurpose one. I thought I would share with you some of these easy repurpose ideas I have discovered. Let me know any you have.

Recycle Reuse Repurpose – 20 Simple ideas for you

Banana Skins – If you have house plants, do not discard your banana skin straight away. Use the skin to gently wipe over the leaves of your plants. It cleans them, and also gives them nutrients.

Photo by Prudence Earl on Unsplash

Toilet roll tubes – These make the best little planters to start seeds off in. As I spoke about in my Easy vegetables to grow in pots post, I have found a love of growing food! Rather than buying more stuff, I use these tubes as planters. They are the perfect size! You could also use empty egg boxes. They make great seedling planters too.

Newspapers – We do not buy a newspaper anymore, but our area gets a free weekly one. Scrunched up newspaper makes the perfect window cleaning cloth. Just don’t use a page with coloured ink. Back and white only. Use with your usual window cleaner, (or home made, non toxic version). No smears or streaks!

Non toxic window cleaner – Mix two teaspoons of white vinegar with a litre of warm water. Store in a empty spray bottle and voila! Glass cleaner with no nasties.

Milk Cartons – Cut these in half, at a slight angle. Put a hook in the higher side of the slant. These can now be hung in your garage/shed/storage cupboard etc to store bits in.

Take Away Plastic Cartons – I wash and save most of these. They are so useful. They are brilliant for portioning out my batch cooking, and freezing it. They are the perfect portion size, obviously as they brought you a portion of Korma..(or whatever your take away of choice is). Nik also uses some to store different size screws/nails etc in the garage.

Wine Bottles – I know most of you will have one or two of these…… Get an oil funnel (you can pick these up cheaply on Amazon etc). You can also use a cork or even beeswax cover. Then, make up some infused oils for cooking and store in the bottles. I had an abundance of basil this year growing, so I made a basil infused oil and stored this way. I also love wine bottles with a dinner candle in the top as a rustic candle holder for the garden table. It reminds me of dining outside in cute French cafes.

recycle reuse repurpose - wine bottle for olive oil
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Used Tin Foil – Did you know you can rinse foil and re-use it? Also, you can scrunch the foil up and use it as a scourer. Just don’t use it on non-stick stuff.

Gift Wrap – I love gifts wrapped in old scarf or material. You can even pick up silk type scarfs in charity shops for less than fancy wrapping paper. If you have clothes that are no longer any good, cut them up! Tie the fabric with a ribbon or string around small gifts etc. It looks beautiful and can be reused again and again.

To note – If you do buy wrapping paper, leave out the sparkles! Glitter wrap is not good for the environment as it cannot be recycled.

Glass Jars – These can be used for a gazillion things. Little rustic flower vases, make up brush holders, coin jar, dried herb holders. Pretty much anything! They are so useful so next time you finish your cashew nut butter, (or is that just my obsession…) rinse out that jar!

Tin Cans – Another garden use find here. These make the cutest little planters. You can paint them with a non toxic paint, and pop a little plant in. I used three of these for a little arrangement on my garden table last year.

empty tin cans make great planters
Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Egg Shells – Crush these up and put on your soil in the garden. They will fertilise the soil as well as help with drainage. They can also be left a little chunkier and places around the base of any plants you have that the slugs love to eat. It acts as a non toxic and kind slug repellant.

Discarded wood or pallets etc – So may uses! If you have just a flat bit of wood, drill some large-ish holes in and hang up. This can attract bees and provide a little bee hotel for them as they go about their business. Pallets make an ideal herb growing holder. My friend Lauretta from Home and Horizon even created a beautiful seating area from pallets in her garden.

Trash to Treasures – Bigger items can be repurposed too

Broken Picture Frame – If the glass gets broken in a frame, turn it into a jewellery holder. The base of the frame could be covered in old fabric, or left plain. Then literally string ribbon or string across the base to hang things from. You could also take the frame base out and just have the hanging jewellery as the star of the show. It looks pretty!

I found this great tutorial to do this, have a look just here

Small Unwanted or broken table – Cut it in half! A small table cut in half makes the perfect wall mounted desk for a small space. A kids room, under the stairs, corner of a dual purpose room etc. You can paint the item however matches your decor, and attach the flat edge to the wall. the two remaining legs of the table offer support the other side.

Broken or chipped cups, plates etc – Turn them into rustic bird feeders in your garden. You can thread string through the handle, fill with seeds and literally hang in a tree. If it is a cup and saucer that is longer wanted, they make the cutest little rustic, country garden feeders.

Another Option – I know someone that used an old tea cup for a candle. She took all the bits left in candles that she had burnt, until she had a little bundle of old wax. She then bought a wick to put in the tea cup, and melted the bit of wax together. Pouring it into the tea cup, she had a new scented candle when it had set.

Unwanted CD’s – Since music streaming has become the norm, many people are chucking out their cd’s. But you could make them into little disco ball decorations for your garden or Christmas tree. They look fab! You just break the cd’s up, and glue them at random to inexpensive or no longer used bauble decorations you already have.

Broken Ladder – I love the look of those ladder shelving units you see in fancy bathrooms. They can be expensive to buy! If you have an old step ladder that is past its safety best, (my Dad had two in his garage) you can create your own fancy ladder shelf. They look great with pots of herbs on in the garden too.

recycle reuse and repurpose almost anything
Photo by Biao Xie on Unsplash

Broken Suitcase – We all have one of those in a loft right? Well, you could cover it however you fancy, and attach little legs or wheels to the underneath. You then have a little storage unit to use wherever you need it! You could also the deeper side of the case with a nice comfy cushion for a makeshift pet bed.

Garden Rake – These make the perfect rustic holders for so much stuff! Wine glass holders for your outside bar. Utensil holder if you have a farmhouse style kitchen. Tool holder in the garage etc

Odd Socks – Instead of throwing them away, use them to dust your wooden floors. Just put them on, spray your floor cleaner sparingly, and dance the dust away! Just make sure you don’t use stuff that will make you slip! This is a great way to get right into the corners of your floors.

So, are you a recycle reuse repurpose convert??

I hope I have given you a few ideas here. But, more importantly, I hope I have encouraged you to look at what you are throwing out, a little differently. The trash to treasures movement is real haha! It is just about looking at “rubbish” in a different way isn’t it. Or looking at whether charity shop finds could actually be just what you need to create something unique. Anything that stops us buying more new stuff, when we already have something that could be used, can only be good. I totally get that not everyone is good at craft. I am not! I am actually the total opposite. I have the patience of a gnat, and zero ability. But even I have managed some of these simple repurpose ideas.

I would absolutely love you to tell me any ideas you have or do. I am always open to learning a new way to stop my contribution to land fill. I am still trying hard to stick to my “no buy year”, so recycle reuse repurpose has become my motto and most used expression this year. That and “oh ffs sake 2020, what next”….ahem….

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4 Comments

  1. July 19, 2020 / 3:34 pm

    Really useful ideas thanks! We batch cook a lot and always reuse cartons. The milk ones I always throw away though, so it’s good to think of some uses.
    Painted cans look brilliant! I currently save up all my tea bags, which is a fair few, cut them open and mix the used leaves with soil for the garden or pot plants. They love it and are shooting up.

    • July 19, 2020 / 6:14 pm

      I am so glad you found it useful Gemma. Thank you for reading! The tea bag tip is brilliant, thank you for that! I have heard that used tea bags are great in compost, so it makes sense that they make the little plants hap. I am going to start doing the same. Thank you!

      • July 20, 2020 / 6:26 pm

        I’m sure between us we can cover the country’s plants in tea leaves!

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