Naomi’s Top Ten Things to Reuse
There’s nothing very exciting about a used toothbrush. But I’ve got to say, I get a real satisfaction out of finding a way to reuse something that is supposed to be a single use item. I feel like when I do, I’m somehow beating the ‘system.’ As an added bonus, it usually saves money by not having to buy something new to serve the same purpose. Here is my top ten list of things we reuse around our house:
10: Zip lock bags – I use these for all sorts of things, but mostly frozen food. After they are used, I wash them by hand along with anything else that cannot go in the dishwasher. They get used and reused until they break or get holes in them. I recommend the freezer type no matter what you are using them for. They are thicker and stronger and last for many more reuses than the thin sandwich bag weight.
My trick to keeping them handy for the next use since they are no longer in an original box? I use two bags, one medium and one large, to store all the clean ones. I just fold a reused bag in half, and slip it into the storage bag of the same size. It keeps the sizes separate and tidy to boot.
9: Plastic containers – I don’t hang on to all of the ones that come into my life, but I do reuse quite a few. Everyone loves the classic ice cream pail. We’ve used them as barf buckets, dog water dishes, toilet plunger holders, cleaning pails – you name it. We also reuse the type of plastic containers yoghurt comes in. In our house they get used for freezing leftovers, sorting Lego, portioning out paint and on and on.
8: Grolsch flip-top beer bottles – these are sold as single use, which seems crazy to me. Beautiful green glass bottles with reusable seals! I make a home fermented drink called kombucha. I reuse a set of Grolsch bottles each time I make a batch.
7: Toothbrushes – old toothbrushes make great little cleaning wands. I use them to clean tile grout, caulking, around the base of taps, and in the crevices of baseboards. I also keep one with my metal polish for shining up what needs it, and one with the laundry detergent for cleaning stains out of fabric.
6: Old sheets – it takes a long time and a lot of washes to finally wear out sheets, but once they are, there is no need to throw them out. We have used old sheets as painting drop cloths, dust covers for storage items, dog beds, and most often, as a cover to put over garden plants to keep them from freezing on chilly fall nights.
5: Paper bags – We don’t get a lot of paper bags these days, but when we do, I save them. Clean ones can be reused as wrapping paper. Any paper bag makes a great liner for the compost pail. It keeps the food scraps from sticking to the bottom, and can be composted right along with them.
4: Nylon mesh bags – this one stumped me for a long time. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, other than save a few to be reused at a food cooperative in Saskatoon. Then I came across this great idea – you can easily make them into dish scrubbies! Click here to see a quick how-to tutorial.
3: Butter wrappers - Save the foil wrapper from butter and use it for greasing baking dishes. This is an idea that was handed down from my grandmother. I certainly didn’t invent it, but I think of her every time I do it.
2: Toilet paper rolls – We all know they are great for crafts with kids; but a practical household use is as a cord keeper. Fold a power cord back and forth then slip the TP roll over top to keep it from unraveling. You can dress up the tubes with wallpaper or something pretty if you so choose.
1: Nice tins – save nice tin packaging for using around the house. I have an attractive tea tin that I keep on my kitchen windowsill. It holds a small set of screwdrivers that I use frequently for things around the house. It saves me from having to drag out the big toolbox every time I need one.
Those are my top ten things to reuse around the house. I hope I’ve sparked some reuse ideas for you, but I’m sure you have your own favorites too.