Cluttered junk drawer

What’s in your junk drawer? An educated guess would include old smartphones, glasses frames and cases, and outdated or broken watches.

It is tempting to throw out stuff like this. It certainly doesn’t make sense to keep it around gathering dust or taking up space. But consider this: You can reuse these common items, some for entirely new purposes. Reconsider the following reuse opportunities.

New Tricks for Old Smartphones and Tablets

Old smartphone on white plate, with focus on the corner buttons
If your old smartphone is too slow to surf the web and download video, you can reuse it in other ways. It will still connect to emergency and first responder services even when it isn’t registered with a wireless carrier service. As long as your phone can find a signal, 911 will work.

Gallup surveyed almost 16,000 smartphone owners in mid-2015 and found that 44% replace their phones every two years. Almost all of the remaining respondents (54%) wait until the phone is obsolete or stops working altogether. That still leaves a lot of working, albeit old, smartphones lying around. Use them as spares for emergency purposes, particularly if you live in an area prone to earthquakes or sudden violent storms like tornadoes.

  • Keep a couple of fully charged phones in your home in the event of an emergency. The basement is one good place to keep them.
  • Keep a phone and charging device in each vehicle you own.

Old smartphones have apps that work independently of the phone function. An unactivated phone can still connect to Wi-Fi networks in your house. Knowing this, you can use your old smartphone in the following ways:

  • Use it as an MP3 player to listen to music while on public transit or exercising.
  • Turn it into a remote-control device for your entertainment center or to stream services like Google Chromecast.
  • Use it as a wake-up alarm or kitchen timer. Even the oldest cellphones have a timer or alarm function.

Old smartphones and old tablets also make excellent dedicated electronic photo albums.

Replace the Lenses in Your Eyeglass Frames

Before you drop a lot of money on Tom Ford or Dolce & Gabbana frames, see if you can buy insurance for replacing broken frames or lenses. Chances are you won’t want to replace that look for at least a few years, particularly if they’re one of those timeless styles that always looks cool.

Did you drop your sunglasses again? Instead of heading to the mall for a new pair, just replace the lenses.

Revant Optics sells replacement lenses for more than a dozen brands, including Oakley, Ray-Bans, Costa, and Maui Jim. Depending on the brand, you can also select from a variety of lens tints and colors that are customized to activities like fishing or skiing.

Store Stuff in Surplus Eyeglass Cases

Every time you buy a pair of glasses, a new case comes along with it. How many cases do you really need for your glasses?

  • Use old cases to organize and store pencils, crayons, and markers for the kids’ projects.
  • Stuff bandages and ointment in a couple to make a basic first-aid kit for your vehicle.
  • Eyeglass cases also make great manicure kits.
  • Explore this collection of eyeglass case reuse ideas.

Bonus: Stash extra keys and cash that the kids will never find.

Give an Old Watch a New Look

Mens watch with leather band
It’s always the right time to reuse an old watch. Image: kryzhov/Shutterstock

Take a look at the old watches in your jewelry box or junk drawer. Chances are, a new band can make an old watch appealing again. From leather or cloth to metallic or rubber chains, a wide variety of watch band styles are available. And don’t hate a watch because it’s hard to strap on. Try an expandable strap or butterfly clasp.

Is the watch really broken? Get out an engraving tool. Give the face a new look to create an interesting bracelet, necklace, or pendant. Paint over it and etch an interesting design or tiny decal. Get even more ideas for turning old watches into cufflinks, earrings, sculptures, and more from and check out even more reuse ideas for old watches on Pinterest.

No matter whether you consider these reuse tips or repurposing tips, one thing is for sure: Keeping these materials out of the landfill helps reduce waste and keeps money in your pocket.

Now go dive into that junk drawer. It’s been lonely in there lately.

Content provided by SocialMonsters. Originally published on March 9, 2016, this article was updated in April 2021.

By Earth911

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