renewable resourcesby Catalogs.com Info Guru Angela Bushong

In your constant pursuit to lessen your waste and become a little more frugal, learning how to reuse what you have is a key step.

“Reuse” is the 2nd of the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), indicating that it’s even more important than recycling. Giving items a second (or third or fourth) life keeps them out of the landfill that much longer, and lets you keep more of your hard earned money.


10. Old electronics

Old electronics

Computer technology moves fast, there’s no denying. By the time you get a full grasp on how to operate your new smart phone or tablet, the new version is already hitting the stores. You don’t have to feel guilty or wasteful when upgrading, however. There are many schools and charities who will gladly take your still-working but outdated electronics and put them to good use.

9. Travel mugs and bottles

Travel mugs and bottles

Plastic, throw-away water bottles have become the poster-child for modern day wastefulness and pollution. It is estimated that there are over 2 million tons of discarded water bottles currently overflowing our landfills. The best way you can do your part to stem the tide is to buy a well made reusable beverage container and refill, refill, refill.

8. Food storage containers

Food storage containers

Plastic, glass, or metal food storage containers are the quintessential “reusable resource.” A lot of your store-bought food items come in reusable containers you may not have considered before. Try jelly jars as rustic drinking glasses, pickle jars to store food or any number of other items, plastic yogurt and sour cream tubs to store your leftovers.

7. Packing materials

Packing materials

Cardboard boxes, Styrofoam peanuts, those air-filled plastic “pillows” your valuables come packed with—all of these items typically wind up in the landfill, but they don’t have to. Give those packing materials new life by reusing them for your own shipping needs. You’ll save resources and money by not buying new packing peanuts every time. It’s the ultimate win-win.

6. Old bedding and towels

Old bedding and towels

Before tossing out old bedding, give them a second look. Many charities will take gently used sheets, towels, and blankets you no longer need. And some of your more threadbare items would still work great as bedding for pets or turned into cleaning rags. If you don’t have any pets of your own, contact your local animal shelter to see if they could use those old towels and comforters.

5. Shopping bags

Shopping bags

The next great super villain in our fight against waste is the plastic grocery bag. These little devils not only do not break down in a landfill, they are so lightweight that they often don’t make it to the landfill at all. Instead, they become airborne, getting trapped in trees, clogging gutters, and floating out to sea where they smother and choke sea life. The answer to this problem, of course, is to bring your own reusable bags. Most stores these days sell reusable bags, or you can hunt down some sturdy canvas bags which are washable and easy to store.

4. Veggie Remnants

Veggie Remnants

Did you know a lot of your vegetable scraps can be reused, too? For purely culinary purposes, most veggie scraps can be tossed into a freezer bag and collected until you have enough to make soup stock. But, if you want to be truly economical (and a bit science-y), look into which vegetables you can actually regrow from scraps. Green onions, celery, and lettuce all make the list, but also look at regrowing your fresh ginger root, potatoes, and fresh cut herbs.

3. Gift packaging

Gift packaging

Most Americans are in the habit of wrapping gifts with throw-away colored wrapping paper, but there are many creative ways to package a present in something beautiful and reusable. Try covering your gift with a nice scarf or pretty shawl. Baskets make great multi-use presentation ideas, as well as a reusable box you decorated yourself.

2. Seed Starting Containers

Seed Starting Containers

When you get the hang of looking at things from a reuse standpoint, you will start to see all sorts of things in a new light. Eggshells and toilet paper rolls (cut in half) make great seed starting containers, as do the egg cartons themselves, and individual serving yogurt containers.

1. Ornaments & Hobby Cast-offs

Ornaments & Hobby Cast-offs

Are you crafty, or do you have a friend who is? Crafty people are always looking for odd items to incorporate into their next creation. Old holiday ornaments can be used to make fun garden ornaments. Guitar picks, old fishing tackle, or discarded buttons and bows can be used in jewelry making or collages. Even your old computer discs can be turned into shiny mobiles or musical wind chimes.