We have rounded up a comprehensive list of disposable items and unique (and not so unique) ways to reuse them. Some you will probably have heard of before, some may cause you to have a “light bulb” moment, but hopefully ALL will make you think twice about simply tossing these things after a single use.
Cereal liner bags.
- Make an icing bag. Cut a small angle on one corner or open flat and form a cone with an opening the size you want. Scoop icing into it and twist down as needed. No cleanup mess just toss when done!
- Clean and use for stacking meat patties before freezing.
- Use the bags for freezing homemade bread and buns.
- Use for leftovers or for smaller portion control and seal them with Foodsaver.
- Use for crushing crackers, cereal, nuts, etc., with the rolling pin. The edges of the nuts don’t poke through as easily and if you end up with extra you can just leave them in the bag.
Nylon mesh vegetable bags.
- Fill with dryer lint, short pieces of yarn, etc to help wild birds feather their nests. They will integrate with twigs, etc. Just fill and hang outdoors where they can get to it.
- Use for various cleaning jobs around the house and yard. Just wad up the bag and use it as a scrubber.
Empty berry boxes.
- Use empty plastic berry containers when you plant some of your spring bulbs. Just bury it in the hole before filling with soil and bulbs. Gophers and moles won’t eat your bulbs.
- Hold small packets in the pantry.
Cookie package closures.
Tear the wire closures off cookie packages when the cookies are all gone, and keep them as mega twist-ties. Work great for bunching carrots and radishes.
Once you’ve removed a block of butter from its wrapping, place the wrapping in a plastic container or bag and refrigerate. Use it to grease baking pans.
Dry cleaning bags.
- Use to pack suits, dresses and fine clothing when traveling to protect from wrinkles. Keep them safely out of reach of children.
- Tie off the end that the hole for the hangers is on and then using it as a medium-sized trash can liner.
Keep a folder next to the printer to keep all those things you print out that you didn’t end up using. When you need to leave a note, or jot down a list or something, you’ll have a paper at the ready.
Use the other side to label storage boxes and tape to the outside of the lid or side so you can see at a glance what’s inside.
Glass jars. (spaghetti sauce, pickles, etc.)
Reuse glass jars to collect cooking grease so it doesn’t go down the sink and clog the pipes. When it’s full just throw it away.
Resealable plastic bags.
- Reuse resealable bags to refill squeeze bottles of mayo, etc. Spoon mayo from jar into the bag, push contents to one corner, cut corner off, squeeze mayo into bottle, no mess.
- Label and reuse resealable plastic bags for specific foods. For example, keep open hotdog packages in a marked bag, and wash between uses. No need to keep buying them for single uses.
- Disposable razors can also be used to remove pills from sweaters.
- You can also increase the life of disposable razors by keeping it DRY between uses. Water is a blade’s worst enemy, because it causes corrosion. Dry the blade off by blasting it with a bit of heat from your blow dryer, or lightly dry the blade with a tissue or towel.
Assorted product packaging.
- Butter/margarine containers when empty and cleaned are great for lunches, snacks, baked goods, etc.
- Liquid coffee creamer containers are excellent for sugar storage. The lids snap closed which keeps bugs out.
- Some quart-sized yogurt containers are marked as dishwasher safe. Freeze homemade chicken stock, etc.
- Crystal Light containers make great colored pencil and paint brush holders. Takes up less space than a pencil box!
- French’s fried onions containers are great crayon boxes.
Alcohol bottle velvet sacks.
The velvet sacks that some fancy bottles of liquor come in are good for storing cable cords, loose change, game pieces, chargers and anything else you can fit into it.
Cat litter jugs.
Rinsed out cat litter jugs can be used to store water in times of crisis, such as hurricanes. Not for drinking purposes, but for flushing your toilet, boiling to clean dishes, etc.
- Use the clear egg cartons to package mini cupcakes.
- Use cardboard egg cartons to make homemade firestarters.
Ice cream buckets.
Coil extension cords inside, or just use as an all-purpose bucket.
Wine corks and headphone magnets.
Throw in your tackle box to keep lures in place if the tackle box gets tossed around.
Plastic water bottles.
Use old plastic water bottles as funnels for when putting oil into your car. Just cut the bottom off of it.
Plastic milk jugs.
Make a DIY lunchbox container out of an empty plastic milk jug. Great for organizing or preventing sandwiches from getting squished.
- Cut a corner off envelopes and use as bookmark corner sleeves–just slide one over the page you are at and you’ll find your place easily the next time you pick up the book.
- Use return envelopes to make packets for storing seeds. Seal the envelope, then cut down the middle to create two pouches. Pour in seeds, fold over and use a paper clip to fasten.
- Envelopes are the perfect size for lists: grocery lists, to-do lists, movies to watch lists….
- Empty Kleenex boxes are great for storing plastic grocery bags.
- Also a Kleenex box makes a mini-trash basket to set near a desk or other area.
- Cut box top at 4 corners, tape down the flaps. Use for storing small items that you have on your desk. Use in drawers for dividers to store various items.
- Use as garbage receptacle on bathroom counter. It’s perfect for discarding cotton swabs and other non-flushables. Looks pretty too.
- Use in the car to hold garbage. You can either pitch it when full or empty it and start again.
- An empty Kleenex box is ideal near a sick bed. Just toss when full.
- If you park outside in the winter, place newspaper on your windshield to prevent icing.
- Newspaper is great at absorbing odors. Stuff it inside a pair of shoes, a diaper bag, or even your refrigerator to help get rid of smells.
- Use as giftwrap, or as packing material when moving or shipping.
- Clean window and mirrors to a sparkling shine!
- Old foil works just as good as new for lining roasting pans and keeping baked-on grime off the oven.
- Used foil makes a great scouring pad for cleaning the gunk off the barbecue grill and stuck-on food from pots, pans and oven racks.
- Stuff balls of wadded-up foil into leather boots and shoes to help them keep their form in the closet.
- Throw a crumpled piece of aluminum foil into the clothes dryer to magically reduce static electricity.
If you use dryer sheets to reduce static and soften your laundry, don’t throw them after one use!
Brown paper bags.
Once used, twist into small rolls and use as fire starters. Use as gift wrap, make gift tags, shred and add to the compost pile, cover textbooks with them.
Plastic grocery bags.
Use as garbage pail liners, paint tray covers, packing material, stuff pet beds or throw pillows that have thick fabric covers, when packing a suitcase, use them to keep shoes from soiling clothes and dirty things from clean ones.
Plastic bread bag clips.
Save a few of the square plastic clips that keep bread bags closed to use as tiny scrapers. They come in handy to remove labels, price tags, and even do a good job scratching lottery tickets.
Paper towel & toilet paper cardboard rolls.
- An excellent way to store all those extension cords tangled up in your drawers. Fold cord back and forth and stuff in tube.
- Wrap your Christmas lights around a paper towel tube to store them for next year. They won’t tangle up as easily!
- Make a knife sheath. Flatten a paper towel tube, duct tape one end shut, and you have a perfect sheath for a picnic/camp knife. Use toilet paper rolls for smaller cutlery.
- Place toilet paper tubes in wet gloves, attach to a hanger with clothespins and drape in the sun to speed up drying.
- Split a paper towel tube length-wise, lay over a wire hanger and tape in place. Drape your pants over the tube to keep crease-free.
- Cut open toilet paper rolls and use as a cuff to save your wrapping paper and keep it from unrolling.
- PLUS….a zillion other craft ideas!
I hope this gave you a few new ideas for how to get more use out of your “disposables,” but at the same time I think we all need to be realistic about what we will and won’t use, and how much to hold on to. I’m definitely not encouraging hoarding! Just being a bit more mindful of what and how much we’re throwing away.