About ten years ago while at an SCA event I had one of those eureka moments I always heard other people talking about but never experienced.
For a long time I was trying to come up with interesting ways to reduce my families footprint without much luck.
The day of my clans Men Without Pants party a simple ugly, gaudy project of one of my friends changed that.
While we were sweeping camp, moving around the cooking tent and other things to prepare for hundreds of people to squeeze into our tiny camp, I noticed my clanmate Red Dog climbing a tree. He had in his a hand a disco ball made entirely out of scratched cd's.
As I said the thing was UGLY. I put it out of my head. That night though I couldn't help but think about it since dozens of people kept on about how great it was.
I had 10 or 15 old cd's at home that I didn't want to throw out, so I starting thinking of other ideas for them.
My home is anything but industrial looking so the shiny metal look wasn't really my thing. Eventually I decided to use craft paint and laquor and I made cup holders for my coffee table. Since there is a hole in the middle I didn't want the drink to sweat on it. I found those rubber things that had glue on one side sometimes used under table and chair legs and put them on the bottom. That lifted them off the table which prevented the sweat and kept the cd's from scratching the table.
As time went on I got more scratched cd's and dvd's and broke them up with a hammer to make mosaics for pencil holders and things. They don't fit my decor but the kids don't care much.
I started to think of other things I could do with all the stuff I threw out.
Milk gallon containers can be used to water flowers with a few holes poked in the lid.
Baby food jars, olive, relish and other small size jars became spice holders by building a shelf in the kitchen and glueing the lid to the shelf. Just unscrew to take down what you need. My hubbies took the idea for nuts and bolts in the shed.
Coffee cans and oatmeal containers, as well as mason size jars can be used to hold grains or granola, nuts and seeds or decorated and used to hold everyday items.
Things like egg cartons can be useful as material for kids projects, to start seedlings or to organize a junk drawer.
Newspapers can also be handy. Line your veggie drawer in the frig and the veggies last longer. Ball it up to dry wet sneakers or to help shoes keep their shape.
Paper mache or paper flowers can keep the kids busy for hours.
Use four or five layers at the bottom of your compost or use the funny's to wrap gifts for kids.
I use old sweaters for dream pillows or sachets. Fill them with flowers or herbs and put into your drawers to keep your clothes smelling nice. I usually change them ever few weeks.
Old socks make great puppets but you can also use them for dusting blinds and ceiling fans. T-shirts and baby clothes
make excellent dust and polishing rags or sew a few together to make reusable grocery bags.
Old towels can be cut and sewn around the edges for drying dishes.
Paper bags can be used to ripen tomatoes or drying mushroom stems to make mushroom powder for seasoning.
Wrap gift or wrap containers in wallpaper scraps.
Gift wrap and paper towel holders with some dry beans or rice added make rain sticks for the kids. The uses for paper and fabric or endless.
Buying in bulk saves you money but can also dramatically reduce your garbage. If you don't have a lot of room to store bulk try talking to your friends and family to see if there are items you can go in on together.
Composting is a great way to handle your organic waste. But consider what you can use before you throw it in. Turn old bread into breadcrumbs or stuffing.
Certain veggie skins and ends can be used to enrich broths, stocks,
sauces and gravies. Some that work best are onions, scallions, shallots, carrots, onions, turnips and
The tough ends of asparagus or the ends of green beans also have tons of flavor when used as a base for cream soups. Potato skins and the water you cook potatoes in can be of use too.
Use as a base of gravy instead of throwing it out. If you have too much you can freeze it for later use.
You can use potato water in place of water in some breads. Houseplants (as long as there is no salt in it)and pets love it mixed in their food. You can remove tarnish from silverware.
For the skins, try some of your fav. spices or cheeses or just plain salt and throw them under the
broiler for a tasty treat.
Citrus skins can be used in a variety of cleaning products.
You can make buttons or beads with bones from poultry. I won't even get into all the morbid things you can make with bones but use your creativity and see what you can come up with.
OK so dryer lint. What can that possibly be used for. If ever you've forgotten to change it often, you may have discovered it's highly flammable. If you have a fireplace why not use it to help start a fire? Find an ugly outdated tie in hubbies drawer and stuff it with lint to use under doors to reduce drafts.
While my mind is in the laundry room, how about a few uses for dryer sheets. They make great dust rags especially if you have pets. The hair sticks right to them. Use them to remove static from the tv. If you have a pan that looks like its beyond hope of getting clean fill it with water and drop a sheet in it. Come back in a few hours and those tough pieces usually will come off easier.
Putting them in your drawers will reduce static and smell pleasant.
I don't wear pantyhose often, which is probably why I tear them every time I do. You can make ponytails by cutting rings from the legs, or use them to secure plants to stakes.
It would take me forever to list all the possibilities for reusing everyday garbage. Some of these things I do more than others and some have actually made me some money at craft fairs and flea markets.
I watched a movie recently where some sort of apocalypse had happened and a son asked his father what it was like in our time. The father said that we threw away things that people kill for today. That really struck a cord with me. I'm not foolish enough to think I can change the world but I can change my own behavior. These are just a few ways I choose to do it. )O(
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