How to Repurpose Many Items Instead of Throwing Them Away

Part of living frugally is learning how to repurpose things you have and use everything instead of living a disposable lifestyle. For example, empty boxes that checks are mailed in are a good size to use as drawer dividers. I use several of them in my desk drawers for organizing pens, sticky note pads, etc. These repurpose tips will come in handy if you are keeping a close eye on your personal finances.


When I peel carrots or apples, I don't throw the scraps away to be stuffed into a plastic bag in the landfill, or put them down the disposal. I put them on the compost pile so they can enrich the soil.

Another example of reuse is what to do with leftover herbs. They don't keep very long, and I never need the whole amount that I buy for a recipe, so I have started drying the extra and keeping it for later. I also freeze things that used to get thrown out - extra bananas or grapes that don't get eaten (the grapes are good frozen as a sweet treat; the bananas are good in smoothies and milkshakes); also peppers can be chopped and frozen to use in any recipe where they will be cooked. For stale bread you can put it in the blender with some herbs and make great breadcrumbs that can be stored in the freezer and then used to coat chicken or fish before baking or frying. Or you can spread the bread with butter or oil mixed with herbs, cut it into cubes and bake it until it is crunchy and you will have wonderful homemade croutons! (See Using Leftovers for more ideas for food.)

how to repurpose


  • lemon rinds - grate the 'zest' (outer yellow layer) and dry or freeze it to use in baked goods; put the rest on compost or grind in garbage disposal to disinfect and deodorize it
  • orange peels - boil orange peels with a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon on medium heat to give your home a deliciously fresh scent

  • both lemon and orange rinds can be used to make homemade citrus cleaner - give it a try for an excellent cleaner for almost no cost

  • apples that have become soft- put slices inside a chicken when roasting - keeps it moist

  • wine - freeze in ice cube tray to use later in sauces or soups

  • chicken or beef bones - make delicious and nutritious bone broth by covering bones with filtered water and cooking for 12 to 24 hours

  • bread crumbs - feed the birds; freeze for breading meat, fish or veggies

  • stale bread - bread crumbs, French toast, croutons, bread pudding

  • fruit and veggie scraps - add to homemade bone broth or stock; compost

  • banana peels - put around flowers; compost

  • used coffee grounds and tea bags - put in your garden or compost pile or individual plants as fertilizer

  • egg shells - add to compost, make ornaments

  • butter wrappers - freeze them in a zip top bag and take one out to use when you need to grease a pan
    how to repurpose

how to repurpose

  • egg cartons - use as a starter planter for seeds; transplant small plants into larger pots or outside when they are a couple of inches tall

    - use to store jewelry, desk supplies (paper clips,etc), or nuts and bolts

  • soap bits - make your own laundry detergent

  • buttons - make a button bracelet; use in craft projects; donate to a kindergarten, preschool or church group

  • clothing - cut into pieces to use as cleaning rags

    - Eco-friendly cloth napkins: Make dinner napkins from any soft absorbent fabric by cutting it into 12-inch squares. You can hem them to prevent fraying, or just leave them as they are for everyday napkins.

    - Recycled t-shirt scarf : Turn a discarded t-shirt into a cozy scarf. No sewing required!

  • scarf - window or table cover or decoration

  • wine corks - put in the bottom of potted plants; or make a cork trivet

  • tennis balls - cut in half & use to unscrew hot light bulbs; put in the dryer with a small load or a bulky item like a comforter to help it dry more evenly

  • colorful glass bottles - make a bottle tree; break into pieces and make mosaics

  • ice cube trays - use to store small items like earrings, paper clips, etc.

  • cereal or cracker boxes - separate them at the seam and turn inside out; re-glue to make gift boxes or mailing envelopes

  • wool sweaters - cut arms off to use as children's leg warmers; felt them and make oven mitts, Christmas stockings, chair covers, mittens, throw pillows, and lots of other items

  • shoe boxes - storage for smaller items in drawers or on shelves

  • catalogs and magazines that you are finished with - use as wrapping paper or to decorate wrapping paper or boxes; use to make or decorate mailing envelopes; filler for packages

  • newspaper - use as wrapping paper or make paper mache; use it to wrap onions to store them longer; put on your garden as a biodegradable ground cover; line pet cages or litter boxes; use as filler for packages

  • jars - storage for buttons, hardware, candy

  • placemats (cloth or vinyl) - cut to size to make drawer liners or use small pieces to cushion the bottoms of ceramic items against scratching polished or painted surfaces

  • wax paper cereal or cracker box liners - use for crushing cracker crumbs or nuts

  • shoulder pads - knee pads for gardening or scrubbing floors

  • old cotton T-shirt - slip over a broom, spritz with water and use it to dust ceilings and other high spots

What Other Visitors Have Said

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