If you’re eco-friendly at all, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the “three R’s” of sustainable living. Chances are, you probably have embraced the first two Rs – reduce and recycle – to the point where it’s something you barely think about. As for the third R – reuse – you’re likely doing this well, perhaps you turn torn clothes into rags or old newspapers into packing material on a regular basis.
If you want to take green living to the next level, try adding a fourth R: repurpose. It’s a bit more challenging, because it forces you to think even outside the box.
Having trouble coming up with ideas? Perhaps one of these “repurposings” will inspire you. Here are a dozen ways that common items can be repurposed:
1. Start with: Half gallon milk jugs
Create: Pencil, crayon, or marker holders
Simply cut out half of the circumference of the lower portion of each bottle, and you have containers with handles that you can use to separate and organize artistic supplies by color.
2. Start with: A one or two liter bottle
Create: A bird feeder
Cut two or three pairs of holes in the sides of the bottle that sit directly across from each other. Then slide long sticks or even wooden spoons through each set of holes, and fill with birdseed and hang.
3. Start with: Several one to five gallon bottles
Just cut of the top half or third of each bottle and fill with soil and seeds. Or move a plant into one of the soil-filled bottles.
4. Start with: Aluminum cans
Create: Cookie cutters
Cut the top and bottom off each can so you have a rectangular sheet of aluminum. Cut half-inch wide strips from the aluminum and bend into various shapes (and glue edges if necessary). Voila!
5. Start with: Toilet cleaner bottle
Create: Cell phone charging station
Cut off the “nozzle” top of the bottle, then draw an upside-down U pattern along one skinny side where the “legs” stretch halfway to the botton. Cut along the pattern, then cut perpendicularly around the other three sides of the bottle. Finally, cut a hole in the middle of the flap through which a charger cord can be fed through while the phone sits in the bottle’s bottom.
6. Start with: A whisk
Create: A candle holder
Place a tea light inside the whisk, then hang it upside down from a ceiling or other surface using fishing line.
7. Start with: Old forks
Create: Wall hooks
Just bend the handles of the silverware into a U-shape, then bend the tines into circles so they can fit on a nail or hook on a wall.
8. Start with: A bow rake head
Create: A wine glass holder
Hang the rake head on the wall with the tines facing outward. Then insert the stems of an upside-down wine glass in between each time.
9. Start with: A wooden pallet
Create: A wall-hanging coat rack or scarf holder
Mount the pallet with slat sides outward firmly on a wall with hanging nails. Then hammer in some hooks or nails into the slats that can support coats, hats, gloves, or scarves.
10. Start with: An old wooden ladder
Create: A wall bookshelf
Figure out how much ladder you’ll need, then cut it away and mount it on a wall parallel to the floor. Then place your books into the rectangular spaces.
See? Almost any old container or tool can be repurposed into something else, which reduces waste and helps the environment. So take a look around your home today – you’ll probably come up with several repurposing ideas pretty quickly!
Written by Del Thebaud