and ramblings on everything in between
I strive to be a simplest in life. I’m not extreme or hipster enough to be a minimalist, but I’m so over owning useless crap that adds nothing to my life. At one point, my possessions fit in the back of my Honda, but that was due to my living situation at the time, not because that’s all I wanted to own. Now they fill a small U-Haul, but I digress. The point of this ramble is to share some ways that I’ve started repurposing and reusing things in my life. They are small changes that I hope will add up over time.
We made fun of my grandma for washing and reusing plastic baggies when I was younger. Now that I’m responsible for raising myself, I realize that my grandma lived like a broke 20-something all her life. She probably developed the habit when she was a broke 20-something, but they became a way of life for her. Reusing baggies, saving Cool Whip containers, and hording tin foil were all ways she saved money and cut back on creating waste. She was a 70-year-old living like a 20-year-old. I’m a 20-year-old living like a 70-year-old.
My mother shared this idea with me from The Yummy Life. It’s taking my grandma’s concept to the next level.
I tweaked a few of the items by repurposing what was already in my cupboards. I poured dry beans in a cup to stabilize the drink stirrers.
After washing out the baggies, I hung them over the drink stirrers, creating a drying station.
The dried baggies get rolled up and stored in a toilet paper roll for easy access.
Freezing Extra Food
I love to cook and there’s always extra that I hate to throw out. I’ve started putting all those little extras in the freezer. Maybe it’s a handful of mushrooms that won’t get eaten in time, or the last bits in a bag of potatoes that need to be used up fast. I chop the produce and store it in the freezer, and eventually they get thrown into a soup or pasta dish. Part of an onion, a few tomatoes, and half of a French loaf from three separate meals can be combined to make bruschetta the next week. I’m always amazed at how well things freeze. Bags of shredded cheese, milk, bread, produce – all of it does great.
Compact Reusable Bag
I keep this small bag in my purse for when I only need to pick up a few items.
There are a handful of reusable grocery bags in my trunk, but I always forget to grab one when I only needed a few things. This bag rolls up into a small pouch so it takes up a small amount of space in my purse and is always on me in case of a bag emergency.
Repurposed coat hanger
This coat hanger originally housed my necklaces and bracelets, but last year I no longer needed it for that purpose. It sat in a give-away pile for awhile until I realized I could give it a new life. I hung it near the oven so spatulas and the potato masher are within arm’s reach while I cook, eliminating the need to purchase a cylinder to keep on the counter. It also added a decorative touch.
Drawer Organization System
This idea came from Real Simple magazine. I cut cardboard boxes to create an organization system in my junk drawer.
Now everything has a place, and I spent no extra money to make it happen.
One of my friends loves to sew, so I visited the local quilting store and found a “bits and pieces” bin with what was left at the end of a fabric ream. I picked out a few handfuls at $1 apiece and my friend turned them into reusable napkins. Less money on paper products, and less paper products in the trash. Win, win.
I live alone and it takes me about a month to fill up a 13 gallon trash bag. I don’t like taking the big trash bag to the curb unless it’s full so I started securing a plastic shopping bag to the side of the can with clips. I place the things that will become smelly and gross in the smaller bag so I can take that out on trash day. The things that aren’t smelly-prone and can’t be recycled go into the actual trash bag. Whenever the trash bag is almost full, I forgo the shopping bag that week and then take the whole thing out.
I realize plastic bags are a recycler’s nightmare, but I feel it’s justified because I’m trading a lot of plastic each week for a little plastic. I avoid getting plastic bags when I’m shopping by using reusable grocery bags, but nevertheless a handful of them always show up in my house despite my efforts. The pesky vendor at the market who won’t let you take zucchinis without putting them in his plastic bag instead of placing them in your own bag. A friend returning something she borrowed. A neighbor dropping off fresh tomatoes. They always find their way in somehow.
I often wonder if it takes more resources to wash out a recyclable item than it saves to recycle it. For a long time, we were required to wash out everything or the recycling company wouldn’t take it. I think that rule has changed, but I still like to rinse the items out so my kitchen doesn’t stink (I’m sensing a theme here). Since my guilt for wasting water has gotten the better of me, I leave all my recyclables on the counter until I’ve finished washing a sink full of dishes. I let them soak in the dirty water before chucking them in the bin. Water wasting problem solved.
How are you repurposing and reusing things in your home? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.