written by: AngelaC•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 4/28/2010
Join in the eco-friendly fun of repurposing by reusing household items, buying unique crafts, and choosing recycled-content products. There are many ways to save money, help the environment, and bring new life into items that you or someone else does not need by using repurposed products.
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What Are Repurposed Products?
Repurposing is basically the “reuse" from “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle." The concept has been around for decades as a way to spend less and the green movement of today is bringing it back. When you repurpose products, you reuse items that you already have, taking no further resources from the planet. Often these items are old, worn-out or no longer productive in its original form, but can be changed into something new, creative and useful. Repurposing products can be for fun, making craft projects, gifts and decorative items for your home. It can also be a way of life, consistently purchasing recycled content products and reusing items in an effort to save money, energy and the environment.
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Ideas For At Home
There are lots of simple ways to repurpose products around the home. In your kitchen, use empty oatmeal containers for storing flour, sugar or other dry items; freeze the wrappers from your butter sticks and reuse to grease pans; and add leftover bubble wrap as a cushiony liner for your fruit and vegetable drawers in the fridge. Repurposing in the garden can include using yogurt containers to separate and protect new seedlings, an old shower curtain can be used to haul yard debris or as a place to kneel and put your gardening tools; large coffee cans and soda bottles can be turned into planters; and milk jugs can become bird feeders.
Other simple ideas include painting tin cans and using as pencil cups, old t-shirts can be used to wash and dry your car, egg cartons are handy for sorting and storing small items, furniture can be renovated, and composting scraps and coffee grounds are a great natural plant fertilizer. Boxes can be reused in a multitude of ways. Cereal boxes can perform double duties, using the outside as a small shipping box and the liner as a replacement for wax paper. Empty facial tissue boxes are a perfect plastic bag dispenser or top drawer sorter. Diaper boxes are a real asset because of the built-in handle, just cover with contact paper and use for storage in closets and small places.
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Ideas For Purchasing
When purchasing products made out of repurposed materials, one option is to buy something that is made from recyclables. Repurposed recycled-content products are made from items such as aluminum soda cans or newspapers, and many other items that would otherwise have been thrown away. Buying recycled products is becoming easier because consumers are demanding more environmentally friendly choices and, as a result, manufacturers are producing more high-quality recycled products. It is helpful to get familiar with the symbols placed on packaging to determine if the item you are purchasing is made from recycled materials.
There are also many choices if you are looking to buy creative products specifically made from repurposed items. Some of the more unique and fun items include jewelry made out of old computer parts, purses made from aluminum pop tops, trash cans made from plastic bottle caps, wine bottles turned lamps, wine cork boards or hot plates, chairs made from water-skis, floor mats and baskets made from flip-flop sandals, license plates turned into mailboxes, and placemats made out of old magazines.
Increasing the life of an unwanted or useless item is always a great way to go green. Recycling, repurposing and donating will reduce your household’s waste and increase awareness of how important it is to be mindful of the environment. Buying anything used, recycled or repurposed uses less of our earth’s limited resources and landfill space. You can also feel good about making or purchasing something that took a little extra TLC!