When you’re trying to lower your waste, it can be hard knowing where to start. It feels like you need to buy tons of new “sustainable” products in order to even make a dent in your overall impact. Can you relate? If so, I’ve been there too. I felt like unless I cut out every piece of plastic, every single-use item, went totally vegan, and sold my car and decided to walk or bike everywhere instead, nothing I’d do would really make a difference. BUT, I’m here to tell you with complete confidence- that’s not the case, at all. I know now that every little step makes a difference, and every step you take towards a low waste, eco friendly life will build up to something awesome and impactful.
Want to know a way you can lower your waste, live more eco-friendly, and save money? Buy repurposing items you already have, that would have otherwise been thrown away or sent off to a recycling plant (in which case, it sometimes still ends up being sent to a landfill). Giving a new life to items that would have otherwise been trash is a great way to lower your waste and impact at home. So, in this post, I’m going to share 5 “single-use” items, and some things you can do to repurpose them and ensure they are in fact NOT single-use.
Single-Use Items + Ways to Repurpose Them
You can do SO many things with smaller cardboard boxes, such as cereal boxes. They’re great for art projects, storing things and organizing, but my favorite way to reuse these is to cut off the entire bottom, about 2 inches tall, and use them for organizing drawers. Whether its your junk drawer or makeup drawer, these are PERFECT for this because you can cut as tall as you want them, and pick a variety of different shapes and sizes. The cute see through aesthetically pleasing drawer organizers are cute and all, but this way you save some cardboard from being thrown away AND you save yourself some money- win win! You can also paint them if you’re feeling crafty and want them to all be a matching color.
The possibilities with these guys are endless. My favorite is to save pasta sauce jars, and use them for DIYs and gifts. They’re perfect for cute holiday gifts like bath salts, DIY cookie making kits, sugar scrub, or literally anything that you’d want to gift in a cute jar. Have you seen those aesthetically pleasing pantry photos where all the dry goods and spices are kept in matching glass jars? Sometimes with the cute labels on them? Because I’ve seen those everywhere and I’m obsessed. Well, here’s your chance! Save your glass jars from pasta sauce (or anything else you buy that comes in a glass jar) and use them for organizing your pantry! Another way I love to reuse glass is by keeping glass bottles and propagating my houseplants in them, or throwing flowers and greenery in them.
Plastic Shopping Bags
Now, unless you’re new here you probably know I’m a big advocate for reusable shopping bags. They’re my fave. HOWEVER, I never claimed to be perfect… so, on occasion, a plastic shopping bag or two finds their way into my house. (cough cough…. husband…) Have no fear, though! It’s only “single-use” if you only use it once. What I do with these, is keep them in my pantry, and when I’m going through our house decluttering (which I do every couple weeks), I use the plastic bags to gather my donations to the thrift store. I also use them for returning items to my friends that have been left at my house, and we even sometimes use them for picking up dog poop in our backyard.
Mesh Produce Bags
You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that the mandarin oranges come in, or the onions, or sometimes avocados. They’re a plastic netting material. And while most people throw them away since they’re not recyclable, they actually have so much potential! One way I love to use them is by cutting off the little metal clip at the end, and wrapping into a tight ball (sometimes wrapping two together for more mass). I use it as a dish scrubber, and it works awesome! You can use it to scrub food off of your stove and countertops too. After a week or two it gets nasty like any regular sponge would- but hey, that’s a week or two that you reused it instead of letting it go to the landfill after bringing your produce home to you! Another cool way to use these is to get a couple suction cup hooks for the bathtub, and hooking one of these on it as a net for your kids bath toys.
Last but not least, old clothes that are torn, damaged, or badly stained. Whatever the reason you deem the piece of clothing un-wearable, don’t throw it away yet! You can cut it up to make rags with. Or even, if it’s a good material, you can cut them up and use them as makeup removing wipes or reusable paper towels!
I hope this helped you! It’s all about mindset. Once we start being mindful about what we throw away and what we consider “trash”, it becomes so much easier to see the potential in items that are meant to be single use. Not only can you save so much money by using what you already have, but you have the potential of saving so many items from being added to the landfill. Remember, the small steps really do add up to make a world of difference!