Save It: 8 Useful Things To Keep Out of Your Garbage Bin

Enviro Girl’s grandparents lived through the Great Depression.  Like many people of their generation, they were prone to saving everything, throwing out as little as possible because “you never know when you’ll need it.”  This resulted in cupboards filled with empty jars, drawers stuffed with bits of string and lengths of fabric scraps and closets overflowing with empty cardboard boxes and old newspapers.  Enviro Girl tends toward the “purging” end of the Spartan/Pack Rat spectrum, but appreciates the thrift behind saving “junk.”  Plus, a lot of “junk” can be quite useful and recycled, saving some money and some landfill space.  Here are 8 things Enviro Girl saves from the garbage bin and reuses or recycles:

1.  Gift wrap.  There’s no shame at her in-laws’ Christmas gathering, at the end of the gift opening, all the bows and lengths of ribbon get tossed into bags to be used again for the next gift-giving occasion.  Enviro Girl actually ties up her presents with good quality fabric ribbon, which can get used over and over again (plus she thinks ribbon is classier than plastic bows).  She hasn’t bought a gift bag, ribbon or bows in years–she stores those gift wrapping items in a closet and has a gift bag handy for any and all occasions.

2.  Plastic containers with lids.  There’s never a need to buy plastic bags when you’ve got a shelf laden with empty and clean sour cream/cream cheese/yogurt/ice cream containers.  Enviro Girl uses those plastic containers to freeze fruits and vegetables, she stores leftovers in them, heck, she and her sons even use them to store their mouth guards for karate!  When Enviro Girl brings a meal to celebrate a new home or baby, she generally can tell her friends, “You don’t need to return any of the containers.”

3.  Old clothes and linens.  Ratty clothes become rags.  The buttons come off (to be used in crafts or to replace missing buttons on viable clothes) and the fabric gets cut up as required.  Enviro Girl never met a mess, a spill, a dirty car or a cruddy refrigerator that an old t-shirt couldn’t get clean.

4. Envelopes.  Those enclosed envelopes from solicitors or bills are a great resource for storing coupons and jotting down grocery lists.  Enviro Girl most frequently uses these envelopes to send along field trip money for her sons at school.  She almost never needs to buy envelopes, she gets supplied for free through the mail!

5.  Boxes.  Like her grandmothers, Enviro Girl does keep a number of empty cardboard boxes in all sizes handy.  She uses them for packing and shipping.  She uses them to transport donations to the local thrift store.   Old boxes get laid down in her vegetable garden to serve as weed control if she can find no other use for them.

6.  Shopping Bags.  Even though Enviro Girl brings her own, every now and then someone will bring her something wrapped in a plastic or paper shopping bag.  She saves these for all kinds of situations.  Wet swimsuit and towel after a day at the beach?  Plastic bag keeps everything else dry while storing the wet items.  Need to leave a few books on your neighbor’s front porch?  A plastic bag will keep them safe from the elements.  Sending a kid home from a play date laden with miscellaneous toys and articles of clothing?  Shopping bag will keep everything together.

7.  Broken dishes.  Piled in the bottom of potted plants, they create wonderful drainage and prevent root rot.

8.  Corks.  A bit of cork can pad the bottoms of furniture, the backs of picture frames, the base of a candle or knickknack and protect your walls and wood surfaces.

Recycling stuff out of your garbage conserves landfill space and other resources.  Enviro Girl is confident she’ll never get featured on an episode of Hoarders, but she’s also confident that her cupboards and drawers have that odd article when she needs it–be it spare rubber band or safety pin or button.

Tell the Eco Women:  what do you save and re-purpose out of your garbage bin?


2 thoughts on “Save It: 8 Useful Things To Keep Out of Your Garbage Bin

  1. Egg cartons are saved and given to my in-laws’, who live on a farm and have chickens.

    I cut up some old t-shirts to make little cloths for removing my eye makeup at night.

    We use a larger plastic container to hold our family’s eyeglasses when we go to the pool. (We keep some clean cloth rags in there too to protect the glasses from scratching.)

    Cans are cleaned and the labels removed, then reused to hold pencils, markers, and other office/art supplies.

  2. My Mom saved everything. Old worn out towels, became car-repair rags, window washing gear, and grease soaker-uppers. There was always another use for worn out things.

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