From old to new: ideas for reusing unwanted items

June 23, 2015

Recycling is a great way to dispose of things you don't want anymore, but reusing them is even better. With a bit of imagination and effort, most old items can be put to use again – either by you or someone else.

From old to new: ideas for reusing unwanted items

Reimagining and repurposing

Before you toss away old items, consider whether you can give them away instead. Your junk may be of great use to others. However, always make sure that the person you plan to give your things to wants them, otherwise you are just dumping your junk on their doorstep.

  • Instead of throwing out magazines or children's toys and books, find out whether they can be donated for use in waiting rooms at doctors' offices and hospitals.
  • If you are disposing of furniture that is in good condition or old electrical appliances, there is likely a charity that would happily collect them.
  • Do you have a stack of old greeting cards? Many charities use them to make new ones, which they then resell.
  • You can often donate old school textbooks to children in the developing world via charities.
  • Corks from wine bottles are sometimes collected by charities for recycling – find out whether any organizations in your area do this.
  • If you have empty jars to get rid of, contact beekeepers or people who sell jam at markets.
  • Ask you local vet or pet shop whether they accept old newspapers for shredding.
  • Give odd balls of wool to charities that knit them into squares to make blankets.
  • Donate old eyeglasses to people in need overseas. Ask your optometrist for information.
  • Look for charities that collect clothes, bedding and other textiles to sell for funds, distribute to people in need or turn into rags that they sell to industry.

New life for old clothes and fabrics

Clothes, bedding, towels and curtains that have seen better days can still be put to good use or given a new lease on life.

  • Save old shirts to wear for gardening or painting.
  • Socks that are past darning come in handy as polishing cloths, padding for the ends of ladders and cobweb dusters (fitted over brooms).
  • Turn odd socks into hand puppets to amuse young children: just sew on buttons and fabric scraps.
  • Cut the legs off well-worn pants to make gardening shorts.
  • Remove the wires from an old electric blanket and use the blanket as an underlay on your bed.
  • Sheets that are beyond saving and faded curtains make good drop cloths for decorating.
  • Sew discarded curtains into bags for storing good coats, suits and dresses.
  • Use fabric scraps for quilting – try making baby blankets, pot holders or bags.

By giving old items a new purpose and keeping them out of the landfill, you can help create a greener, less wasteful world!

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