Eco-friendly ways to repurpose your household junk

July 27, 2015

It's impossible to clean and organize a space in your home without having a pile of junk to dispose of at the end, but your household junk doesn't have to end up at the dump. Here are some easy ways you can recycle or donate your junk and save!

Eco-friendly ways to repurpose your household junk

1. Recycling in the house

Effective recycling of household items requires a creative frame of mind. Before you pitch something, take a minute to ask yourself if there is any other use for it. A candle stub, for example, can be rubbed along the runners of a drawer and make the drawer move more smoothly. It can also be used for light in an emergency — or in a Halloween jack-o-lantern. So save it.

  • When you do save something, be sure to have a specific use for it and a place to keep it.
  • Paper printed on only one side goes into a box in the study to be used as scrap paper for lists and telephone messages. Plastic produce boxes go right to the potting bench for starting seeds. Old T-shirts, towels or linens get cut up and put in a basket designated for rags in the laundry room or basement.
  • Top candidates for home recycling are metal cans with plastic lids, plastic milk jugs, plastic bags, paper and plastic grocery bags, newspapers, egg cartons, yogurt and other resealable rigid plastic containers, towels and other household linens, and boxes.

2. Recycling in the yard

Your yard and garden present numerous opportunities for creative and pennywise recycling.

  • Reuse yard waste. Start a stick pile to use as kindling for your own or your neighbour's fireplace. Use scrubbed rocks as paperweights. Fallen leaves or flower petals make quick table decorations, or when dried, mounted and framed, simple but beautiful artwork.
  • Keep your compost working on yard and kitchen waste and shredded newspaper.
  • Turn household castaways into garden pluses. Scrap lumber, if it hasn't been pressure-treated, can be turned into stakes, window boxes or planters. Pantyhose, cut into strips, make excellent plant ties. A leaky or cracked garbage can might be perfect for storing potting soil. An unsafe, weathered wooden ladder might make a charming trellis for a climbing rose.

3. Giving things away

If you can't use or reuse something, find it a new home.

  • Greenhouses usually accept small plastic pots back and will often buy larger ones. Send the food smoker you got as a gift, but never fired up, to a friend or thrift shop. Give the cultivator you don't really like — and used just once — to someone who would appreciate it.
  • Charitable groups as well as local churches and shelters, accept many items — dishes, flatware, linens, clothing, toys and furniture — as long as they're clean and in good condition. If you can't get your donations to the organization, ask if there is a pick-up service.
  • To reach more directly into the community, contact churches, synagogues or hospitals to find people who are setting up a home after a fire or other disaster and need help.

Before you throw your household junk away, think about whether you can make use of something in a new way. Not only are you protecting the environment by creating less waste, but you could save yourself (or somebody else) some money.

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