Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Do You Repurpose Your Things?

Are you a shopper who buys things with a single purpose? If so, you may own rarely used appliances, pricey storage containers, or new stuff when the old stuff still sufficed.

When I was just starting out, I bought more than I do now, probably due to my lack of experience. What cured me was after replacing a set of bath towels I thought were showing signs of wear, I noticed that the new towels looked no better then the old set after a few washings.

Now don't get me wrong, you want to replace articles if they wear out, and sometimes you really do need to buy a specific item if it does an important job properly. Obviously, you wouldn't wear a lamp shade for a hat to shield yourself from the sun, nor use a magnifying glass to read when you need a pair of eyeglasses. When something is essential; it makes your life better, safer or happier, buy it.

But nowadays, I'm more mindful about buying new things. I try to separate my wants from my needs; and I consider the cost to the environment with a desire to lessen my carbon footprint. Furthermore, I learned not to buy toys, tools, or kitchen gadgets that aren't very practical. How often will you use a bread maker, or a tomato slicer? I mean, you can make bread in a mixing bowl and your oven. It takes two seconds to slice a tomato using a sharp knife.

I also try to repurpose things when it makes sense. Here are four ideas that might let you use an old standby in a new way, resulting in savings:

1) Mason jars (above) - Canning jars are sturdy, transparent and come in all sizes. You can repurpose them in so many ways! I store everything from dried spices, flour, sugar, refrigerated leftover food, loose buttons and small office supplies in them. 

I will probably never again buy another candle holder. Mason jars make beautiful glass candle holders, and the price is right.
Photo: instructables.com
2) Cake pans - A Lazy Susan will set you back $10 to $25. But you can easily make your own Lazy Susan by using extra cake pans of the same size; or go to a dollar store to buy two 9-inch round pans and a package of marbles for a couple of bucks. (Better yet, repurpose table salt so you don't have to buy marbles. Salt works!) Pour the salt (try what you have at home first) into the bottom pan. Stack the pans, one inside the other. Voila: a turning Lazy Susan for your spices.
Photo: iPhone
3) Plastic pillow casings - I repurpose the protective plastic casings that come with new pillows. They are usually heavy duty plastic, plus have a handy zipper. I use them to store other items that need protecting like my Everly Brothers paraphernalia, or blankets that get put away until next winter.
Photo: instructables
4) A shoe organizer as a vertical herb garden - This last idea is one I must try as a space saver in my apartment. Clever, right? My research says an indoor (or outdoor) vertical garden is easy to grow. Remember to test the caddy for leakage as you will be watering it, and hang it in a sunny area. Very efficient, indeed!

Shoe organizers come in both cloth and plastic. You can repurpose one to organize all kinds of things to hang in your bathroom; on one side of a door; or inside a closet. Vertical storage saves horizontal feet! There is no reason to restrict a shoe organizer to just shoes.

Have you repurposed something you'd like to share? Your ideas may be even better than mine!

You may also enjoy:
DIY: Drop Cloth Curtains
Vegan Beauty Products To Try
Happy Earth Day: Think Green
Waste Not Want Not Native American Style


  1. Some very good ideas here, Debra. I also use those plastic zip bags that come with pillows etc. and in fact recycle almost all shopping bags in some way. The nice brown paper bags are used for gifts, sometimes with an added flower or motif. The lazy susan for spices is an idea I might try, and the vertical garden is brilliant!

    1. Hi Tricia,

      I was so interested to know what you'd think of this blog topic. As mentioned, I am now on a Mason jar kick ... to use them instead of more costly storage containers, candle holder, etc. I love the look of the glass. Why pay $10 for a container when a Mason jar, which looks good and does the job, costs $1 or less?

      And once you become eco-minded, it's hard to waste resources. Like you, I reuse all paper shopping bags ... to wrap and send packages through the post office. If the paper bag is too small to cut up and use for packages, I use it as a garbage bag. When I had to buy a kitchen trash can, I found a wire recycler (at Bloomingsdale's of all places) that fits plastic grocery bags as garbage bags, so in 25 years, I've never had to buy trash bags. I guess that's not the perfect solution either, since it's still a lot of plastic going into landfills. But reusing is better than not when it's already produced. I guess as a society we have to rethink plastic. It gets complicated! So you do what you can.

    2. I use one of those wire bag holders too! Twins I say :)

    3. Well, I'm proud to be your Twin. Wish I could sew just like you! :)