Trash to treasure

According to the EPA, Americans produce hundreds of millions of tons of garbage destined for landfills every year. In addition to buying minimally packed goods and recycling, reusing potential household waste is an effective way to reduce the volume of garbage heading for landfills.

Bottle caps: Paint them red and black for cool outdoor checkers pieces. Paste beads or pictures in their centers and use them to decorate vases, picture frames and containers.

CDs: These show up made into clocks, decorating the edge of frames, and in sculpture. Try putting on a felt or cork backing and using them as coasters.

Egg cartons: As their original purpose illustrates, these make great packing material. They can also be used to organize small items like beads, jewelry, sewing notions, golf balls, and office supplies.

Film canisters: These are becoming rare with the rise of digital photography, but if you find yourself with some consider their many uses for storing small items. They also keep a tight seal and could be used as a container for shampoo or lotion while traveling.

Glass jars: In the 1970s it wasn’t unusual to see drinking glasses made from cut bottles in people’s homes. Reasonably priced bottle cutters are available via the Internet and, after sanding the rims, the bottles can be used as vases, drinking glasses, planters and anything else the imagination can conceive. With the spouts intact, they can be filled will sand, shells, beans, stones, or colored liquids, and used as bookends. Try turning an attractive bottle into a lamp, or fill it with vinegar and herbs or berries for a flavored vinegar. In a nod to their original purpose, they can also be reused for food storage.

Ice cream containers: Decorate with reused wrapping paper, gift cards, and so forth and use as a gift box. Use as a bath basket for hand towels, soaps, etc. Use as planters; pints are an ideal size for indoor herb gardens. Use to store nails, screws, bolts, etc. Organize the junk drawer in ice cream containers. Make a flannel board story box to keep kids occupied in the car by gluing flannel to the lid and filling the inside with felt shapes, people and animals.

Milk cartons (paperboard): Cut to desired size and decorate to make pencil boxes, planters, storage for small items.

Milk jugs (plastic): Fill with water and use in place of dumbbells. Cut and use as planters; use the cut-off spout as a funnel.

Newspapers: Stuff them into shoes or luggage which have developed an odor. The newspaper will absorb the odor overnight. Use them to clean windows; they’re cheaper and streak less than paper towels. It works as cheap insulation. Cut into strips, roll and glue into coils, then assemble in a 6-inch-by-6-inch frame to make a trivet.

Shower curtains: These can usually be tossed in the washer when they’re dirty. Otherwise, use as a drop cloth or tablecloth for kids craft tables. Cut into aprons or paint-ponchos to wear for messy projects.

Single earring: Use as a tack on a cork board.

Soda bottles: These can be reused like milk jugs. Cut the bottoms off for planters, organizers or vases. Use the cut-off tops as funnels.

Tissue boxes: These work well for storing plastic shopping or newspaper bags.

Toilet paper tubes: Store extension cords in tubes to prevent tangling. Give them to kids for crafts.

Wine corks: Cut a slit in one end and use single corks to hold a note card, display small photos, or hold table place cards. Use one as a pincushion. Glue them into any size frame to make trivets or bulletin boards.

If you have discovered excitingly quirky uses for your trash, please share it with Colorado Loves Green! Send ideas to

Published 06/26/2009 at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s