5 Ways to Repurpose Your Trash

When it comes to reuse, we all know the basics. We can line our wastebaskets with used plastic grocery bags, and we know that old clothes make good rags for cleaning the house. But there are limitless possibilities for reuse once you get to thinking about it.

Here are a few more ways to reuse common items instead of tossing them in the garbage. But don’t stop with these ideas – create some reuses of your own. As you can see from these examples, there are plenty of great ways to reuse once you think outside the box — or in this case, when you think outside the trash can.

1. Old Coffee Mugs

Your old coffee mugs can help you simplify your life if you don’t toss them in the garbage. The Penny Pinching Grandma blog points out that you can organize your bathroom by placing your make-up in coffee mugs or as an organizer in the kitchen or office. Following the same principle, you can also use your mugs to separate all kinds of bathroom odds and ends (i.e. soaps, toothpaste, floss, hair brushes and razors). With your coffee mugs doubling as containers for accessories, you won’t need to buy a plastic contraption to organize your bathroom counter.

2. Old hair ties and old wastebaskets

Grandma’s blog also suggests a way to use your old hair “scrunchies” together with your old wastebaskets. You won’t need to throw out the old hair ties or your garbage cans if you store wrapper paper rolls in the cans.

“Do you have a large, tall wastebasket or trashcan that you are no longer using? This is perfect for housing rolls of wrapping paper. Use old or new hair scrunchies around the rolls instead of rubber bands. [It] keeps the paper nice, and rubber bands tend to dry and break.”

Reuse old coffee mugs to organize your kitchen, bathroom or office. Photo: Realsimple.com

Reuse old coffee mugs to organize your kitchen, bathroom or office. Photo: Realsimple.com

3. Coffee

If you like the smell of coffee, you don’t have to part with your money to buy air fresheners. Coffee grounds can be used to bring that café aroma to your refrigerator, freezer and closet.

Writer Michelle Fabio introduced her readers to numerous ways to reuse coffee grounds on her blog, Bleeding Espresso. She explains how to use coffee grounds in your closet: “Old pantyhose plus coffee grounds equals a sachet to keep your closet free of odors.”

You won’t need the pantyhose to reuse coffee grounds in your kitchen appliances. In the refrigerator and freezer, store a cup of coffee grounds for that morning-coffee-fragrance, Fabio suggests.

If you want to be a coffee grounds reuse connoisseur, you can check out more of Fabio’s tips for your morning cup of joe.

4. Aluminum Foil

California’s Amador County reminds you that you can wash your aluminum foil instead of trashing it. “Flatten, wash and store used foil,” says the county’s waste management department. Aluminum foil can even be used as a makeshift sponge, according to ehow.com. “Use a crumpled wad to scrub your pots. Be gentle with non stick surfaces.”

5. Almost Anything

ReUseIt Network is an online group that promotes innovative reuse options. The network consists of groups across the U.S., as well as in several other countries. The network explains: “Our goal is to find new uses for unwanted items that would otherwise be thrown into the trash.”

Once you join the online group for your area, you can send messages to group members about particular items. “Simply list the item that you wish to give away and wait for someone to respond saying that he or she is interested in taking the item,” the network’s site explains.

For example, the Los Angeles branch of ReUseIt has 16,566 members alone.  The site states that Los Angeles ReUseIt can receive hundreds of posts per week!


  1. Hi Katheen
    I am artist and I use all tipe of materials in my art work.
    The one that I love the most is plastic over the canvas transforming gargage in work of art.
    I love the new objet once is transform.
    Take care

  2. I love this coffee re-use tip! Never thought of that. Even though I don’t drink coffee, plenty of friends and cafes have it piling up.


  3. Those are some great ideas. Have you ever thought about just recycling the plastic bags back to stores. Most stores now recycle plastic bags and make new ones or make reusable plastic canvas bags so you dont have to keep using new plastic bags.

  4. I’m confused why everyone always suggests washing and reusing aluminum foil. Perhaps it’s just the way I’m cooking, but my foil always ends up with black marks or tears from when I remove the food. The only time it ends up clean is if I use foil to cover something in the fridge.

  5. Some very good tips indeed! Just need to get something off my chest though. Along with Matt Evans’ comment, people need to bring their used plastic bags back to the store so that they can be recycled (or better yet, bring reusable bags with you when you shop and not even use plastic!) I work at a grocery store where all of the collected bags are recycled into park benches.

    I can’t stand how people think that using a plastic bag to line their waste basket is doing something good for the environment, beause it’s not. Newsflash, that bag is still going to end up in the landfill where it will stay for the next thousand or so years. PLEASE EVERYONE just say NO to plastic bags!

  6. you can use coffee grounds with a little soil in an ash try bin (flower pot) instead of kitty liter … its better!

  7. Coffee grounds are also great in the flower or vegetable garden. They grow worms which help with the aeration of the soil, and can also be used for fishing.

  8. Girl Scouts have a tradition of trying to find another way to cook an item without using foil at all. Sometimes using a small piece is necessary, but we try to wash and reuse it…It is a matter of pride and caring for the environment. It takes a tremendous amout of energy to manufacture and does not degrade; Don’t you hate it when you find leftover foil in a camping fireplace?

  9. While the standard mantra is that the first R, Reduce, is the best of all, I have to say that Reuse/Repurpose is my favorite. When you Repurpose something you reduce your need to buy something new. It’s such a satisfying feeling to take an object and then apply your creativity to solve a new problem with it.

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