Repurposing Household Items: Minimizing Waste

In the present economic environment, in which the savvy person needs to do everything they can in order to get ahead, one effective wealth accumulation strategy to consider is repurposing your household items to minimize waste and maximize cash flow.

In other words, there are effective ways you can take a common item everyone has at home and creatively use it for another purpose. Some of these items are things that might be at the end of their useful life but can live on in a few form. The process lowers your overhead and increases your cash flow, plus it’s a fun exercise for the entire family.

Plastic or Glass Food Containers

Although eco-conscious shoppers try to minimize packaging when shopping, a number of products are only sold in plastic or glass containers. Some of those containers can be reused for food storage, replacing one-time-use plastic wrap or storage bags. Be sure to check through the plastic and glass items that you would otherwise choose to recycle or throw in the trash. Plastic bags in which you purchase produce can also be washed and dried then reused for storage. Be sure there are no holes in the bags.

Food containers can also make nice planters or vases for flower arrangements. Wrapping a plastic container in colored foil or a pretty fabric can mask its original purpose and match your home decor. Soak glass containers so that the labels can be easily removed. Jars have a rustic look and are often used in restaurants to serve things like iced tea or lemonade. Your outdoor picnics could take on a whole new image of old-fashioned wholesomeness.

With a little creativity, larger plastic food containers can be transformed into beautiful bird feeders. For a hanging feeder, you’ll need to drill some holes in the top for a wire or string suspension system. You’ll also need to cut out holes in the sides toward the bottom for birds to have access to the seeds. Perches are optional if the holes are large enough. Get creative with decorations to complete the repurposing.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Some common household items such as baking soda and vinegar can be repurposed into very useful cleaning agents. You will be pleasantly surprised to find how much money you can save with old-fashioned sources rather than purchasing a commercial product in a store.

Baking soda can be used as a general purpose cleaner for toilets, sinks, or surfaces. Just use it like a commercial powdered cleanser, adding water to turn it into a paste. Baking soda also absorbs odors. Place an open box in your refrigerator to keep smells away. In the bathroom or kitchen, you can put baking soda in a decorative container with holes in the lid to replace expensive commercial sprays. You’ll have fresh air in your home without fragrances, to which many people are allergic.

Vinegar can also be used to clean a myriad of products. One clever repurposing idea is to use white vinegar in place of commercial coffee machine cleaners. Just fill the water reservoir of your coffee maker with vinegar and run the machine as if you’re making coffee — of course, without the coffee beans! Then run two or three rounds with clean water. The result is better-tasting coffee at a fraction of the price.

As an added benefit, vinegar and baking soda are free of harmful chemicals. Cleaning with more natural products will ensure the safety of your family, as more and more allergies are tied to chemicals present in our everyday lives.


Old towels that you no longer wish to use in the bathroom and kitchen or worn-out tee shirts can be turned into cleaning rags. This is a very direct and easy way to turn a piece of trash into a useful tool.

Threadbare sweaters that may be worn in particular areas such as the cuffs or neck can be unraveled and the good areas of yarn salvaged. Just cut away the waste and roll into new balls. You can then accumulate enough yarn for a new sweater or knit smaller items such as scarves and gloves.


Are you a newspaper reader or subscriber? If so, you might consider that newspaper makes very useful kindling to start fires. If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, these old newspapers can be repurposed for kindling by unwrapping and creating large balls with air pockets for circulation.

Old Photographs

Before the advent of digital photography, we all had many photographic prints. If you find yourself with boxes of these lying around, turn them into art projects for your family. They can be cut up and made into collages, or used to decorate things like white lampshades.

Bartering or Selling Repurposed Items

There is only so much one household needs, of course, and working out a bartering or selling network in your area is a great way to generate cash from repurposed items. Contact a cleaning service that might need rags or an art school that might have use for plastic containers or old photographs. Although they may not purchase with cash, you might be able to come up with some clever bartering for your repurposed items.

Regardless of the individual choices you make in how to repurpose your household items, one thing is for sure: This is a path that can lead to significant savings of money, reduced waste, and greater overall wealth.

Sarah Boisvert is a seasoned author who writes on a variety of topics including business, finance, music, and travel. She has written profiles of Gary Crittenden, Steve Wynn, and Chuck Hull. Her technology interests include social media platforms and 3D printing.

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