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Reuse It All - Zero Waste

Updated on September 23, 2016

How to Reuse Almost Anything! Project Waste Zero

I started this project years ago to reduce my household waste. I began by reducing consumable products. I switched to washable napkins and plates. In a nutshell, I stop buying things that are disposable! I did reduce my waste and I also saved a lot of money. The first step before reuse is reducing. I mentioned how I did that by cutting out disposable products, but using less will also help dramatically. Consider how much shampoo, laundry detergent, electricity you are using. Make an effort to use only what yo need.

Once you've accomplished the "reduce" step, it's time to "reuse." This is also my favorite part. Reuse is fun and will bring out your creativity. It comes before recycling, because it doesn't require as many resources to be consumed. The only energy consumed to reuse household waste is your own! Here I've collected resources for my favorite reuse ideas from normal household as waste. As I collected ideas, I placed them here.

Zero waste means a healthier planet. :) Check back frequently for more ideas on how to reuse and reduce waste around your home! Finally, don't forget to RECYCLE.

Image by HSSchulte

Berry Containers

Reuse Household Waste

Most plastics in your home can be recycled. But, the berries you buy come in plastic containers that can not be recycled in most areas. Learn some creative ways to reuse them and never have to send a berry container to the landfill again!

Reusing Berry Containers

1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse - from Amazon.com

1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse: Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew (1000 Series)
1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse: Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew (1000 Series)

This book is full of photo images to spark creativity. It doesn't give step by step instructions for the projects, but you will get plenty of inspiration to make up your own as you view the unique photos.

 

Cardboard

I don't know about you, but I get a lot of boxes. Maybe that means I am shopping online too often and need to do more local shopping, but anyway, how do we reuse boxes? There are many online instructions for reusing boxes as crafts. Boxes can also be reused in your garden because they block weeds. How about reusing a box to make a solar cooker? Cool huh? If none of those ideas work for you there are a few websites that actually buy used boxes for reuse: Ecobox.com and Boxcycle.com

Reusing Cardboard Boxes

Food Scraps

Reusing Household Waste as Compost

I take for granted that everyone is composting, but if you are not, there is no better time to start. Collect leaves, grass, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells and compost them. Anything that comes from nature, can return to the earth in the form of compost. Do not compost meat or fats from animals. There are many methods of composting. Some people make a frame to collect debris in a compost "pile." Some people buy compost tumblers. Others simply throw the waste on top of the ground in the garden, or area of the garden.

I prefer to bury the waste in my garden, or in the pots and barrels i use for growing flowers. My neighbors don't see my kitchen scraps and I don't need an expensive tumbler or frame to hold in the waste. It only requires dirt, something to compost and a shovel. The worms which do the compost work will come! If you do not garden, you can still compost in a barrel or planter and use the composted soil for your houseplants. They will love it!

How to Make Compost

Dryer Lint

Reusing Household Waste

I know it's odd to reuse dryer lint, but it's one of those things that you can't recycle and we want to keep it out of the garbage. If you burn wood for heat in the winter, dryer lint becomes as valuable as gold on a cold night! Throw some dryer lint and paper under your logs and you'll have a flame in no time. There is a more extravagant, long burning recipe for fire starters involving wax in the article below. Also there are more tips for lint reuse including clay from lint and reuse in your garden.

Reusing Dryer Lint

Paper

Reusing Household Waste Ideas

I racked my brain trying to think up ways to reuse paper. Of course, if one side is used, you can reuse the other side for scratch paper, or kids drawing paper, before you recycle it. You can reuse envelopes this way as well.

Repurposing Paper

If you don't reuse the paper, you can break it down into pulp and create new paper with it. This is a time consuming project, but also a neat learning project for kids. You can use homemade paper for special notes, cards, etc.

How to Recycle Paper at Home

Toilet Paper Rolls or Paper Towel Rolls

Reusing Household Waste Ideas

Most homes have empty toilet paper rolls as household waste, because... well the most frugal minded earthy folks still use toilet paper. Although, I have heard people discuss cloth for this purpose, this is the one product I will always prefer disposable.

So how do we reuse the empty rolls when the toilet paper is gone? Well, you can

- Use the to start fires. Stuffed full of dryer lint, they make quick and easy fire starters for winter months

- Use them to make craft projects

- Or my personal favorite ... use them to start seeds in your garden!

Reusing Toilet Paper Rolls to Start Seeds

In addition to using toilet paper rolls to start seeds, I also use small yogurt containers and egg cartons. The yogurt containers work best for me. I rarely have a seed that fails to sprout in a yogurt container.

If you like the idea of reusing household waste in the garden, you will be happy to know there are virtually endless ways to repurpose waste in the garden. Gardens work well for biodegradable waste because everything breaks down and returns to the soil eventually. Cardboard and paper mulch is just one example of biodegradable waste that can be used in the garden. Non-biodegradable waste comes in handy for watering and supporting plants. Examples would be milk carton watering and old bike trellises. Many more ideas to reuse household waste in the garden can be found at:

Repurposing for the Garden

Plastic Bottles Household Waste
Plastic Bottles Household Waste

How to Reuse Plastic Bottles

Another Idea for Reusing Household Waste

Here are over 20 ideas to reuse a plastic bottle in crafts. All the ideas contain photos of the finished project, so you can see what it looks like before you spend you time on it. There are ideas for reusing plastic bottles as vases, storage containers, home d├ęcor, jewelry, knitting devices, terrariums and much more.

How to Repurposing Plastic Bottles

Reuse Waste by Recycling an Old Computer
Reuse Waste by Recycling an Old Computer

Recycle or Reuse Your COMPUTER!

Computer Crafts for Reusing Household Waste

Technology changes quickly and while we don't often think of reusing or recycling computer, they are yet another form of household waste that is piling up in the landfills. Consider giving working components of the computer to friends or family that can use them. There are also manufacturer recycling programs for computers. Take a step back and reconsider ways to reuse that old computer before you throw it out. Here are some innovative and chic ideas for recycling old computer parts into crafts!

Reuse Your Household Waste to Make Games

Games from Cardboard, Soup Cans, Milk Cartons, or Plastic Milk Jugs

You can make puzzles, board games, counting games for preschoolers, car games and color or letter sorting games all from household waste. All it takes is a few ideas to get started. Before you know it you will be coming up with your own ways to recycle trash into games and activities for your children. Here you will also find manufacturers that specializing in making toys from recycled plastic.

Waste not, want not.

Plastic for storage
Plastic for storage

Plastics as Household Waste

Improtance of Reusing Plastic

Because plastic isn't biodegradable, like cardboard and paper, it is critical that we reuse it, or recycle it. Here are some ways I enjoy putting plastic to reuse around my home. If you don't reuse your plastic, please don't forget to recycle it, or it will end up in the landfill virtually forever.

Plastic Bottles:

Cut off the top of the bottle and use them to store pens, pencils, craft supplies, small children's toys like legos, leave the top on and use them to store nuts and screws in the garage.

Medium-size Plastic Containers:

Great household storage containers also.

Plastic Bags:

Cut them into strips and use them to weave, crochet, or knit.

Large Plastic Bottles:

Poke small holes in the bottom of them and use them for drip watering in the garden. They allow the water to seep out slowly so the plant roots get all the water. Stake them down close to a plant and leave them in the garden all summer. When it is time to water, just fill the bottle and let the water trickle out.

Freecycle is a Reuse Group

Reusing Household Waste by Giving It Away

You can reuse items by giving them away. Reuse groups are all over. My favorite is Freecycle. Freecycle is a global organization comprised of many, many local groups. These groups communicate by email to exchange items. A few years ago, my area didn't have freecycle, so I started a local group. You can email your group offers or wanted items. You can visit freecycle at http://www.freecycle.org, to learn about the group in your area. If your area doesn't have one, start your own.

Start a Freecycle Group

Before Reuse ... Use Less

Produce Less Household Waste

One way to limit the amount of waste you have to reuse or recycle, is to use less. Give up your consumable products, such as paper plates, paper napkins, etc. and replace them with washable permanent napkins and plates. This leads to much less trash to recycle or reuse. Also, use less water, less electricity by learning to turn things off or use as little as needed. This is the first step in Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle for good reason. Using less conserves resources.

Do you have more ideas for reusing household waste? Please leave a comment!

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    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 18 months ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      One big thing that can be done in France and the UK at least is for tips and public refuse sites to give away or sell all the perfectly good stuff that people throw away.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      We compost, use dryer lint for camping, and use cardboard, but the others are new to me. Thanks! We also save our altoids cans, because they make nifty little containers for all sorts of things.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      instead of buying garbage bags...fill up the plastic bags you get at the grocery store with garbage.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: broken link sorry! e-waste riches fixed

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Amazing ideas, I think that zero waste straight in the household is an important jump to be made! Waste that cannot be converted should be recycled! e-waste especially! I mean look at all the possibilities it has! :

      e-waste riches

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Terrific tips. I had never thought about using dryer lint to help start a fire in the fireplace. I'll have to try that this winter. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Zero waste is a great idea with Earth Day coming up, just had to return to review your ideas.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great ideas.

    • Mim Art profile image

      Mim Art 5 years ago

      Terrific lens. Another use for dryer lint (especially in the spring) is for the birds. I save it up along with hairbrush hair and place it in little mesh cages outside (hidden from elements as best as possible) for the birds to use when nesting. It's a fun thought to think they are sleeping in some of my clothes/hair.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great ideas!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      I'm trying to figure out how to reuse an Epson RX500 printer. I think it has a possibility to be fixed.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      We usually recycle toilet rolls as toys for kids....actually my daughter loves cutting them and painting them, it keeps her busy for a long time. Since it is getting time to sow seeds, though, I think I will have to use some for this!

    • Maritimer LM profile image

      Maritimer LM 5 years ago

      We recycle Dryer Lint to start our campfires in the summer.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Really great ideas here. Blessed!

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 5 years ago from McLaughlin

      Love these ideas!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      We have a blue box program in our city for cardboard, paper, plastics and tins. When our kids were little we donated paper stuff etc. There is also a recycling center for clothing, small appliances and electronics. Big metal stuff can also be donated to scrap metal dealers. The only thing I have to put in the garbage is food scraps because of the geese and bears. Whatever anyone can do to recycle counts. :)

    • shandigp profile image

      shandigp 5 years ago

      I'm seen some really cure boxes and picture frames made from upcycled computer motherboards and keyboard keys. Great job! *blessed*

    • profile image

      PizzaPromoGuy 5 years ago

      I have never quite thought about recycling like this! It puts things into a whole new perspective! Great Lens

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Excellent ideas here. It will take a while to follow every one of your links. My work is cut out for me. My favorite tip on this page is to reduce the amount of throw-aways we bring into our homes in the first place. Angel blessed.

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      tons of great ideas here. a few which i can put into effect right now ! thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hey I have reviewed your squidoo lens and I really liked it. Because of this I went ahead and âlikeâ you on squidoo. Giving your lens another like.

      When you have time, please take a look at my lens. It is located at

      http://www.squidoo.com/appliance-removal-louisvill...

      If you like my lens, please add a like to my lens as well. I am new to squidoo and I would appreciate any comments at all.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      Really wonderful suggestions! I never would have thought to use dryer lint in the fireplace (particularly since I don't have a fireplace at the moment!), but that was my favorite idea because it makes you realize how accustomed to throwing things away because we don't even bother to look for another use. Well done!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is a unique lens on this topic, some ideas I wouldn't have thought about. Thanks for promoting awareness on the 3Rs...blessings! :)

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      My head is spinning with all the recycling ideas you've shared on here. I use many, but some, like dryer lint - were completely new. Great job, blessed! :)

    • profile image

      poutine 5 years ago

      "Boxes can also be reused in your garden because they block weeds" is an excellent tip.

    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 5 years ago

      Impressive lens, thumbs up

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We recycle, compost, and re-purpose as much as possible, but everything? That is amazing! Thanks for the great ideas!

    • smithlights profile image

      smithlights 6 years ago

      I've always thought there should be a way to reuse dryer lint!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Excellent ideas to reuse it all. I've never bought much in disposable or plastic containers but some do sneak into my house from time to time, zero waste is a great goal for us all. Well done!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Great lens with all sorts of great ideas for reusing some pretty mundane things! I linked this lens to "The Lint Filter" blog (because of the dryer lint information, of course!).

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 6 years ago from McLaughlin

      My mom lived through the depression and she learned to reuse almost everything! Thanks for your clever ideas.

    • profile image

      luckygrrrl 6 years ago

      I love the idea about using toilet paper rolls to start seeds. Also, if you have pet rabbits, you can use toilet paper or paper towel rolls as chew toys. I used to socialize rabbits at my local animal shelter, and the rabbits really loved to play with those things!

    • FunkyJewelleryUK profile image

      FunkyJewelleryUK 6 years ago

      Great lens! I make my own jewellery using recycled products so this is really interesting. Nice work :)

    • profile image

      LensSeller 6 years ago

      More outstanding ideas for recyclers everywhere.

    • profile image

      sweetdeal 6 years ago

      very important ideas

    • shandigp profile image

      shandigp 6 years ago

      Just began following you on Twitter! ShandiGP. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You have some of the coolest recycle ideas here!

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 6 years ago

      An excellent site! You have many good suggestions.

    • tailortoo profile image

      tailortoo 6 years ago

      You have made so many great suggestions. That first R for reduce is certainly the best starting point.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      essential advice for all - thanks

    • profile image

      marsha32 6 years ago

      this is a nice lens....and lots of important information and good ideas....I'm heading to check out some of the other links...but not before I put in my Squid Angel Blessing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      It is very easy for people to just throw everything out. This is an important topic and your lens has some great information that we could all use to reduce waste.

    • profile image

      orinel 6 years ago

      Great lens. Loads of ideas and some of them very different. I've learned a lot. Thanks. See what you think of this lens http://www.squidoo.com/the-wikaniko-way-to-go-gree...

    • profile image

      orinel 6 years ago

      Great lens. So important to recycle as much as possible. Check this green lens out http://www.squidoo.com/the-wikaniko-way-to-go-gree...

    • DecoratingEvents profile image

      DecoratingEvents 6 years ago

      This is so helpful and green! Thanks for sharing. *Blessed

    • profile image

      WriterBuzz 6 years ago

      Very cool lens. Informative and fun. Thanks for sharing. Thumbs Up given.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is an eco-friendly thing!

    • profile image

      greengogreen 7 years ago

      Fantastic lense! Always good to remind myself of the importance of the 3 r's, thank you for the great info :) Simple Compost, Straw Bale Compost Bin

    • profile image

      flooringcanada 7 years ago

      Great lens! Thanks for sharing easy green ideas for everyone to follow. We must take care of our environment for us and the future of our children :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      I just smacked myself on the forehead. Why didn't I think of the yogurt containers for some plant runners I want to save starts from (ajuga and strawberries). I'll go dig them out of the trash.

    • priscillab profile image

      priscillab 7 years ago

      Wow- so maany great ideas!!! Love the toilet paper rolls for seed starters!

    • profile image

      martialartstraining 7 years ago

      Dryer lint? That is amazing, thank you for sharing all of this, I feel motivated now.

    • profile image

      Obscure_Treasures 7 years ago

      How cool...loving all the ideas for green gifts

    • profile image

      totalhealth 7 years ago

      great and fun ideas on reusing those common household waste. i particularly like the water bottle screen

    • kathys55 profile image

      kathys55 7 years ago

      Wonderful Lens. There are some great ideas here.Faved you and lensrolled you to my lens.

    • hsschulte profile image
      Author

      hsschulte 7 years ago

      @Kevin Wilson 2: Kevin,

      I agree using less is the first step. It is amazing how much money you can save by learning to use cloth napkins and other reusables. After reduce, is reuse and that is what this lens is about. The final step... recycling.... I hope everyone is doing to keep our landfills from overflowing.

    • Kevin Wilson 2 profile image

      Kevin Wilson 2 7 years ago

      Use less is the key - it's the "Reduce" part of the three R's and there's a good reason it comes first! Some ways I've found to reduce: bake your own cookies, bread etc so you have no packaging waste: use rags instead of paper towels, cloth handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex: buy less (or NO) plastic junk from Walmart :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      This is a great page. There is a website: altuse.com that has a whole bunch more suggestions like this.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      When I'm at work and dry my hands with paper towels, I stuff them in my bag and take them home. I then use them for wiping left over oil from the pans before washing (don't want to spill too much oil in the drain!), pulling out hair from shower and sink drain (which is better than using strong chemical products to unclog drains) etc etc.

      BTW have just started a worm composter! Yupeee

    • db49 profile image

      db49 8 years ago

      A great site. I lensrolled it and rated it....then read it some more. Waste management has been a passion of mine for many years now, and I always love it when I find another like-minded soul.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Coffee grounds is also something to check out! AND REUSE

    • profile image

      poutine 8 years ago

      I didn't know we could reuse dryer lint. Thanks for the info.