Friday, March 4, 2011

Creative New Uses for Old Household Items

For those of you looking for Vinegar Fridays, it was retired last week. Don't despair, a VF book will be available later this year. In the meantime, enjoy this guest post from Mariana Ashley, who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to

Most of us are familiar with the three R's in green living: recycle, reduce and reuse. Recycling is pretty cut and dry, as is reducing our use of certain materials like plastic and reducing our overall consumption to live more simply. What many of us could use a hand with is reusing, beyond rinsing and reusing plastic sandwich bags and using plastic grocery bags to line our bathroom trashcans. Here I'll examine some creative ways we can put old items to completely new uses.

1.) Using old wine bottles as vases.

Sure, your basic glass wine bottles can be recycled if you wish, but why not use some of the more artful and colorful ones as vases? Simply remove the label from the side with some warm water and a razor blade. As spring approaches, you can fill these "vases" with a few wildflowers as they pop up for a splash of shabby chic to light up your home. Bonus use: You can use old wine bottles to store homemade salad dressings in your fridge.

GG note: I put empty wine bottles inside my boots in my closet...keeps them organized and in good shape!

2.) Using old yogurt containers to grow herbs.

I stumbled upon this great idea when looking up information on growing your own in-home herb garden. Old yogurt containers are the perfect size for growing an individual herb, and they are ideally sized to fit right on your windowsill to soak up the sun. Simply add holes to the bottom for proper drainage, and use a small saucer or old butter lid to collect any water that leaks out the bottom.

3.) Using old shoeboxes to organize, well, anything.

I have yet to recycle a shoebox, as I always find some sort of purpose for it. Instead of buying those fancy baskets and boxes from Target or Hobby Lobby, I use shoeboxes to organize items like sewing supplies, taxes, Christmas lights, music CDs and memorabilia. You can cover them with craft paper so they don't look all cluttery and mismatched along the top of your storage closet and label each one clearly so you always know how to find what you're looking for. Bonus: shoeboxes also make excellent gift boxes with a little craft paper coating. Just tie a ribbon around the middle and you've got a sharp-looking present.

4.) Turning an old tire into a tire swing.

What grandkid didn't enjoy swinging on a tire swing in the front or back yard of their grandparents' house? I know I did. Old tires will need some hosing off and elbow grease to get clean enough for children's use, but with a secure rope, a trusty branch and some effort, they make for a fun use for an item that in some areas can be quite expensive to recycle.

5.) Using old T-shirts and socks as dust rags and drying cloths.

Growing up, my mom always had me use mismatched socks to dust the coffee table and other surfaces around the house. Today, I do the same and avoid using disposable paper towels. Old T-shirts can be cut into scraps and used to dry off dishes.

6.) Turn an old sweater into a decorative pillow cover.

Those with a knack for sewing can take a sweater they don't wear anymore and turn it into a cover for a pillow. I found a great Do-It-Yourself project with a step-by-step tutorial of how to turn an old sweater into a pillow here.

These are just a few new uses for old household items. How do you give old items new life?


  1. Thanks for the great tips! I sometimes forget about the reuse when it comes to the 3 R's! I'm off to dig through the recycling bin!!

  2. Great ideas on reusing and recycling everyday items. I also use the yogurt tubs to store leftovers, rather than buying the wasteful Glad or Ziplok throw-away storage containers. I have too many now though, so I think I'll give growing herbs a try!


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