Friday, September 16, 2011

Reusing Household Items

When I think about 'zero waste' lifestyle, I dream of a balanced ecosystem. Lush green landscape in place of garbage areas near each community. Fresher air and near-to-nature living! However, every day as some new products hit the market, we all get overpowered by the marketing tactics and end up buying stuff which we don't need - be it electronics, fashion clothing, cosmetics or home interior items, etc. Instead we keep on increasing our waste - some times we give to charity, sometimes we recycle and at most times we throw unwanted things thus ending up in the landfill. Wouldn't a public park be a more appropriate use of land than a mountain of waste?
So at first place if we shop less, then waste will be less. But suppose, people suddenly stop buying all those not so necessary things, surely it will affect the market, employment and the economy, isn't it? If the old items which we need to discard are damaged then they may not be useful for charity. Also recycling of every item is still not available in many places. So what we can do is only reusing those unwanted items creatively at our home. The added benefit is you save money & can own an unique, personalized home organizing or interior item, which will be talk of your guests for sure!

To check what can be reused & where, we need to look at our garbage & shopping list. Maybe we can cut some items on our shopping list by reusing items which we are about to discard. I did that & believe me it was fun!

The items found in routine garbage from our home are generally these,

1. Plastic/glass jars, containers, bottles

2. Packaging boxes small or large of paper/cardboard

3. Small bottles, boxes

4. Toiletry, chemical containers

5. Tin boxes, containers, jars

6. Chipped or broken crockery or ceramic or china wear

7. Take-away food containers

8. Old clothes, bags

9. Wooden/metal/plastic furniture & accessories

etc etc

Here are some of my personal favorites & some experiments of reusing things which may be otherwise trash.
1. Plastic & Glass Jars- Many plastic & glass jars with proper lid can be used to store grocery & arrange in your kitchen cabinets. Ex. rice, pasta, milk drinks etc which are packed in bottle or plastic jar can be bought then next time we can buy same item packed in bag & refill the jar.

If you can reuse jars & boxes comes as package to store all your grocery like pulses, flour, beans etc, you would never have to buy separate jars for same purpose. The plastic jars of ice-cream, yogurt are also good storage containers once they are cleaned.

Most of my grocery is stored in such jars. Rice is stored in yogurt jar, urid pulses are stored in horlicks jar & ice-cream box is used to store bird feeding rice.

2. Soap, shampoo, toiletries Bottles- Just like jars, hand wash bottles, dish washing liquids, shower gels can be bought second time in loose refill package & can be refilled in previous bottle, if you use same brand then you don't even have to clean the bottles .

3. Baby food bottles, Herbs/Spice bottles, ketchup, jam bottles- we can use the same bottles for using same items or other appropriate items. Once in a while it is better to wash these bottles, especially if we use it for a prolonged time.

4. Tin boxes- The tin boxes of coffee/ biscuit etc can be used for storing same items. Alternatively planting small plants in these tins is also a good idea, only remember to make some holes at the bottom of tins for draining water . Some good looking tins can be used for organizing like pen holder or as coin box or for keeping small stationary or hardware items. Or we can also collect coins in these boxes

5. Food take away/delivery boxes- some food boxes are of good quality which we can use to store food items in fridge. Other use could be to pack food for office or outdoors. Generally I use these boxes to store cut vegetables in fridge.
6. Plastic ice-cream boxes, chocolate Boxes- These boxes can be used to store small items like stationary/medicines/hardware items or grocery. Chocolate boxes can also be decorated & used as gift boxes. I have assigned this empty Ferrero Rocher chocolate box to store sachets of sugar, coffee etc.

7. Cold drink/ wine bottles- These glass bottles are of good use to store drinking water. Also we can store some homemade juice or lemonade in this & keep in fridge. I also used one beautiful wine bottle to grow money plant.

8. Chipped or unwanted mugs/vase/flower pots can be used for storing pens, brushes, spoons etc on study table, dressing table etc. One of mug which I received as gift but don't like it for drinking coffee, is kept on bookshelf, which stored pens. Other chipped mug is used in washroom to hold items.
9. Broken ceramic plates or china wears can be used as colour pallet, if you do painting. From my experience it is better than any other newly bought pallet specially for oil paints.

10. Shoe boxes can be used to store collectibles, small home decor things, cards, documents, write ups etc. The clean & hard shoe boxes are my favorite home organizer items. I have kept all shoe boxes, some are used for storing home decore items, some hold collectibles. One box is dedicated for stationary items. This box in photo contains stock of cleaning accessories.

11. Packing boxes comeing with gifts specially those of hard material, watch boxes, cosmetics boxes, skin care set boxes can be used to store miscellaneous stuff like stationary items, jewelry, hardware items like screws, nails or buttons coins etc. These boxes can be used as gift box as well.
I have made a body shop box with transperant window on top of it as our collectible box. Al our natural collectibles like dried flowers, leaves, shells etc along with some memorable photos & postcards are stored in this box.

12. Washing powder/ cereal Boxes- Big empty boxes of cereals, washing powder, tissue boxes can be used for storing carry bags. one opening could be cut in the box, from where we can pull the carry bag out. It is good reuse also a nice idea for organizing those otherwise voluminous carry bags, which filled up space in cabinet below our kitchen sink.

After cutting the top side of the box, these boxes can be used as magazine holders or for holding excess wires, assorted things in store room.

13. Planter- Many items like broken earthen/ceramic/glass wears, shoes, tin/plastic containers, paint or chemical containers, ceramic pipes, coconut shell, can be used for planting small plants in your garden. Actually if you grow a plant in anything which can hold the soil & can have a hole or two facilitate axcess water to flow, then any waste item in your home can become beatiful planter. In this photo old tyers are used as planter.

14. Clothes- Old napkins can be used for housecleaning or as bathroom mat. Old clothes can be used to stitch rugs, mats, decorative wall hangings, covers for pillow/chair/cushion, curtain, handbags, pouches, wall hanging organizers, cloth files in patch work or with other creative technique. In India 9 yard sari, traditional garment for women is reused for many other purposes. The blancket stiched from my grandma's soft cotton saree was my favorite in my childhood & is best example of reuse of clothes.

15. Bags, Purses- I never throw old bags, purses, pouches. Though they are damaged a bit. I always dedicate those bags for things according to application. One of old bag is where we store all tools. A small old purse of mine is where all sort of small locks are stored .

16. Old containers/ tiffin boxes- Some old containers, tiffine boxes with broken handle or lock can be used for keeping water and seeds for birds in your window.

17. Lids of jars- Lids of jars can be used as coasters or can be kept below bottle of oil to avoid any oiliness to kitchen platform.

18. Partition cards in tea bag boxes can be used as bookmarks. I painted some of these cards, laminated them & now these bookmarks kept on bookshelf add not only good use but beauty as well.
19. Small empty boxes of Tic-tac or menthol or tablets etc can be used for storing nails, screws or any assorted tiny items.
I have stored nails in tic tac box. Some toothpicks are stored in one of empty calcium tablet container which can be used during travel or outdoor trips.

20. Plastic trays in chocolate boxes to hold chocolates can be used to store tiny jewelry items in jewelry box or pins in stationary box or nails/buttons etc.

21. Trash CDs can be used as coasters or decoration purpose.

22. Plastic spoons coming with milk powder, ice-creams, cough syrup can be cleaned & kept in containers of floor, spice powders, washing powders etc. I have kept those ice-cream spoons in containers of turmeric, chilli powder, cocoa powder etc.

23. Old funiture accessories like racks, hooks, wall cabinets can be reused for other purpose. I have used some old hooks for curtain rods to hang clothes instead of throwing them on bed or tables etc. These small hooks made our bedroom clothes free, where one could find clothes all over before.

24. Unwanted, old, damaged furniture pieces- There could be many creative ways to use the old furniture piece for some new applications. I never did it, but I alawys like the idea of using old trunk as side table, it could add the antique touch to interior. These are some of the photos from other people, who reused there old furniture & result is these amazing art pieces.

Hope some of you would have developed interest in reusing old items, or have you started looking for them in your store room already? Let me know how it goes!

Enjoy Creative Reusing!

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