Oven mitts and potholders hanging in a row

Mom and Grandma always had quilted, cloth oven mitts and potholders in a variety of patterns and colors to match the décor of the kitchen. They washed the mitts and potholders regularly and used them for years and years — even after they became shabby and worn.

But what do you do if you don’t want to keep a stained or worn-out mitt or potholder in your kitchen? The recycling options are slim. You can search the Earth911 database for local fabric recyclers and call to see if they accept would accept them. Or maybe you have friends who would chip in with you to purchase TerraCycle’s Fabrics and Clothing Zero Waste Box.

But what about just recovering your oven mitts and potholders to extend their usefulness? It’s is a great opportunity to practice your sewing skills and use up sturdy fabric scraps, like denim.

If one side of the potholder still looks nice, you could repurpose it as a trivet for a small pot. With a little cutting and sewing, it could become coasters, a mug cozy, or a simple case to hold a spare pair of eyeglasses (or a portable cutlery set).

In the winter, I’ll wear a beat-up or singed pair of oven mitts over my gloves to help protect my hands when digging my car out of the snow. I can even poke an ice scraper through the cut top of a mitt to keep my hands warm while I scrape. Another good idea is to wear mitts when pruning thorny branches or taking out trash cans on a cold morning. You could even cut them into the shape of insoles to help keep your feet warm in winter boots!

These items might seem like silly little things to think about, but maybe we should. By noticing where we create waste, it’s easier to see ways that we can reduce our waste.

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.