A How-To Guide on Recycling Household Items

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No matter how hard you try to recycle and reuse certain items, chances are you are still throwing too much away. Even if you are an avid recycler, there are always ways in which you can improve. With a little creative thinking and a commitment to going above and beyond when it comes to recycling, you will be able to get the most out of those household items you otherwise would have tossed.

Whether you are an avid DIY-er or simply looking for new ways to reuse and repurpose some of those common household items you normally just recycle, we’ve got your bases covered. With the help of this list, you will be able to  avoid spending money you cannot spare and be proud of yourself for reusing things and cutting down on national waste.

Below you will find a list of everyday objects that are normally recycled or thrown away and some ways that you can transform them into useful, fun objects. If you have any ideas for recycling household items that you don’t see on this list, please share! We are always looking for new tips and ideas to encourage recycling in innovative, thoughtful ways.

Without further ado, here is our list of common household items that can be repurposed into useful objects, instead of being discarded:

dish soap

Image courtesy of Claire Thompson.

Dish Soap Bottles

Once you get the bottom of your dish soap bottle – or any squeeze bottle, really – clean it out thoroughly and set it out to dry. You can then use the old dish bottle as a vessel for water to hydrate out-of-the-way plants, or even for cooking purposes.

Egg Cartons

Egg cartons also moonlight as a container for freezing individual portions of all kind of things – such as cookie dough batter, meatballs, homemade herb-butter, and more. Another fun idea is to use egg cartons as an organizational tool. You can store items such as golf balls, or even separate out your change in an easy and efficient way.

Paper Bags

There are many different uses for paper sacks, some of which you may not have thought of before. Try fastening one to the back of your front passenger seat and use it as a wastepaper basket for your children. If someone in your family is sick with a cold, it could be helpful to fasten a paper bag to the side of the mattress so that they can easy discard their used tissues.

bottle capsBottle Caps

There are many different uses for bottle caps, many of which may surprise you. If you have a dent in your wooden table, simply cover the area with a wet cloth, put a metal bottle cap over it with the fluted edge facing upward, then press the center of the cap lightly with the tip of a hot iron. It is important to note that the bottle cap should not be facing down toward the table. Another idea is to create a shoe scraper for outside the door using six or eight rows of bottle caps. Simple name them into an 8-by-12 inch board with the sharp side facing upward. This is a great project to do with your kids, or when you have a spare hour or so.

Paper Towel Rolls

If you have a lot of plastic bags on your hands, a good way to keep them contained is by stuffing them in an empty paper towel roll. You can also use used paper towel rolls to keep extension cords untangled by rolling them up and putting them through the center of the roll. Other uses of these oftentimes discarded rolls is to use them to organize hair ties and hair clips, or even roll your linens around paper towel rolls to keep them crease-free.

Hopefully these five ideas will inspire you to reuse some of those common household items that you normally recycle or toss. And again, if you have any other fun, eco-friendly ideas to reduce waste, feel free to share!

Feature image courtesy of Ashley Coombs

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Chase Ezell

Chase has served in various public relations, communications and sustainability roles. He is a former managing editor for Earth911.com.