We can easily take for granted some everyday objects that are thrown away daily in our disposable society. However, previous generations were far more frugal and appreciated the value of stuff that we might regard as trash. So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 20 items that you might want to consider keeping instead of jettisoning.
20. Loose Buttons
We’ve all been there, when a button has flown off a garment, never to be seen again in what can be a potentially embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. However, chances are your mom or grandmother will have a jar full of possible replacements. Whether it’s for your shirt or a pair of trousers, these buttons can save you a lot of hassle.
But that’s not all, though, as we’re about to discover. Indeed, if you like sewing garments from scratch, there will come a time when you require some buttons to finish the job. So instead of buying a pack online, you can turn to the aforementioned jar and keep your money in your wallet.
19. Plastic Bags
Before canvas tote sacks became a thing, people had to rely on plastic bags whenever they went out shopping. And after those carriers were disposed of at home, they eventually made their way to garbage dumps, where they’d accumulate. If you’re still relying on them today, you might want to take a leaf out of your grandparents’ book.
As opposed to chucking the plastic bags out, your grandfather or grandma probably kept hold of them for other shopping trips. Yet the potential uses don’t end there, as these carriers will shield items from damage if you’re putting them away in the attic. Furthermore, they can also stop ice forming on your car’s windshield wipers in the winter.
18. Food Scraps
Back in 2014 food website My Heart Beets reported that roughly 30 percent of all the food in America was thrown away. That’s a shocking statistic, as you don’t need to throw everything away once you’re done with it. For instance, items like meat fat, bones, garlic skin and vegetable tops can be very useful when preparing future meals.
To explain more, a blogger named Jill Nystul shared a suggestion on her website that harkened back to the past. “Just keep a freezer bag in your freezer, and add scraps to it whenever you have them,” she wrote on One Good Thing. “Once the bag is full, dump it into your Instant Pot with a few cups of water and some seasonings to cook up a delicious stock!”
17. Soap Slivers
When a bar of soap reaches its end, the remaining slivers can be difficult to handle. Gather multiple slivers together, however, and you’ll have an entire new bar. Indeed, throw them in a fabric bag – perhaps made from your own scraps – for a handy soap bag. Soap slivers can also be crumbled into laundry as a substitute for detergent.
If that wasn’t enough, soap scraps can be used in a very different way as well. For example, did you know that you can stop animals from damaging your backyard with a few slivers? All you need to do is place them inside an aging pair of tights, before wrapping it around a post. That should serve as a deterrent to any pesky critters lurking in the area.
16. Old Discs
If you like buying physical copies of films and music, there’s a very good chance that your house will be full of discs. However, when the time comes for a clearout, not everyone will be keen to keep hold of those DVDs and CDs. The figures certainly back that up, as millions of them arrive at garbage dumps throughout the year.
But you don’t need to dispose of the discs in that manner. In fact, you might be able to “upcycle” them into something different at home. To give you an idea, an unwanted CD could be repurposed as a coaster. That kind of ingenuity would definitely get the seal of approval from your grandparents.
15. Egg Cartons
When we purchase eggs at the supermarket, sometimes they’re sold in non-recyclable cartons. Due to that, the material ends up at the garbage dump once we’ve thrown it in the trash. In keeping with this list, though, egg cartons do have other uses that might save us some hassle going forward.
Indeed, if we’re struggling to keep all of our screws and bolts in one place, an egg carton could become a makeshift toolbox. Alongside that, it can also be used as a palette for whenever we need to paint something in the house. Meanwhile, we might help farm workers save a bit of cash too, by sending old cartons their way.
14. Food Seeds
As we highlight elsewhere in this article, there are ways to save food scraps in your kitchen for future use. But what about seeds? Can they be kept hold of as well? If you want to ease back on your spending at the supermarket, discarded seeds from vegetables can be a big help.
For instance, you can plant removed tomato seeds in your garden to grow your own. All you need to do is wash the residue off them, before drying them out for the next few days. From there, you should be able to place the seeds into the soil. Your grandparents would certainly endorse a plan like that.
13. Worn-Out Fabrics
After a while, our clothes can suffer a bit of wear and tear. When that happens, we’ve got a decision to make about what to do with them. Should we throw the garments out, or keep them in the closet for now? Well, our grandparents found solutions to those issues, as they fixed up damaged fabrics themselves.
“You can apply [that] ‘make-do’ mentality by finding ways to fix or reuse old clothes, towels and bedsheets,” Nystul suggested on One Good Thing. “You might be able to salvage your favorite pair of jeans with a new zipper! [And] that old sweater may look as good as new after a good de-pilling session.”
12. Empty Toilet Rolls
Once you’ve finished a toilet roll, you’ll probably look to chuck it in the recycling bin. Before you do that, though, you need to ensure that there’s no paper left on the cardboard. After all, it’s a non-recyclable material. However, the empty rolls don’t have to be thrown away, as you can use them for other purposes.
Indeed, your Christmas lights might benefit from some empty toilet rolls. By tying the cables around the cylindrical piece of cardboard, they won’t get tangled up like they normally do, making things a lot easier when the next festive season rolls around. In addition to that, you could also send a few rolls to a nearby school, so teachers can utilize them in arts and crafts lessons.
11. Wine Corks
Unlike a standard lid, wine corks can be pretty tough to open without the right equipment. Once you’ve used your corkscrew, though, what do you do with the cork itself? As it turns out, it’s a lot more useful than you might suspect, so you should keep this in mind going forward.
Surprisingly, wine corks make for good “plant markers” in your garden. To pull it off, you just need to attach the cork to a sturdy stick and place it alongside your flower, writing the name on the side of the stopper beforehand. Away from that, the plug can be transformed into a makeshift printing stamp as well, highlighting its versatility.
10. Old Containers
In your kitchen cabinets, there’s a good chance that you’ll have rows of different jars and containers. But instead of throwing them out when you’re finished with them, here’s something to consider. Just like your grandparents would’ve done in the past, you should keep hold of the receptacles, with Nystul offering up some ideas.
Nystul wrote, “Many food items come in plastic or glass containers, and those containers can all be reused in hundreds of ways! Use larger jars to store bulk ingredients in your pantry, and smaller jars to keep track of screws or nails in the garage.” The blogger added that taking off the receptacles’ original labels often helped their aesthetic appearance.
9. Rubber Bands
Back in 2014 America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) produced a startling statistic regarding “land waste.” The EPA revealed that over 8 percent of that rubbish was made up from leather and rubber. So to help combat those numbers, you might want to resist the urge to throw any rubber bands away.
Aside from their normal use, rubber bands can be utilized in some different ways, as we’re about to discover. For instance, if you’re struggling to open the lid of a jar, the band could provide you a bit of extra leverage. Alongside that, they might give your hangers a new lease of life too, as the material can stop clothes from sliding off them.
8. Aluminum Foil
If you have any aluminum foil that’s sustained only light use, why not reuse it to cover leftovers or pre-prepped meals? And with many people becoming more conscious of their use of plastic, it could be a more eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap, for instance. Furthermore, foil can be scrunched up and used as a dish scrubber on stubborn, dried-on grime.
Meanwhile, aluminum foil might have another helpful use in your kitchen. Incredibly, the material can actually hone a pair of scissors. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, all you need to do is bend a sheet of foil over on itself a few times. From there, you then slice through it with the utensil, which should make the blades sharper.
7. Used Tea Bags
After making a cup of tea, we’re left with a used tea bag in the pot. Yet instead of throwing it in the trash, we should probably store it somewhere else in the house. For you see, tea bags serve a number of alternative purposes, and a few could leave your jaws on the floor.
Indeed, did you know that used tea bags can treat ailments like small burns, swollen eyes and bug bites? If you want to give it a try, you just have to leave the item in your fridge. Furthermore, they’re also capable of helping your skin when dropped into a tub of bathwater.
At first glance, you might not see any use for old eggshells. After all, when the contents have been emptied, what else can you do with them? Keeping that in mind, you should put yourself in your grandparents’ shoes, and think about their response. How would they treat a discarded eggshell?
To help answer that question, Nystul shared her thoughts on One Good Thing. She wrote, “Instead of tossing your eggshells in the trash, save them! After washing and drying them, you can use them for all sorts of things. They make a great fertilizer for your garden, while also deterring pests.”
5. Fabric Scraps
As we touched upon before, you shouldn’t throw out any clothes that might require a simple fix. That mindset also extends to other old fabrics that are sitting around the house, but for a slightly different reason. These materials could well come in handy if you need a few pieces of scrap.
Just like your grandparents did in the past, scraps of fabric can be used to spruce up items at home. To give you an example, an older bit of material could be stitched into a pillow or a duvet to help repair them. The possibilities are endless, so you really have no need to dispose of the aforementioned fabrics.
4. Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS)
Remember what we said about rubber and land waste earlier? Well, you might want to brace yourself for another jaw-dropping figure. Prior to 2014 it’s believed that about 25 billion expanded polystyrene foam containers – what we usually refer to as styrofoam containers – were chucked into the trash in the United States every year. They’re also non-biodegradable, which makes matters even worse.
On that note, you could help stem the flow of discarded EPS. As opposed to throwing it away, you can utilize it for a few alternative purposes, which we’ll get into now. Indeed, you might want to create some “packing peanuts” from the material to pad out fragile boxes. Alongside that, it can be used as a makeshift guide template by those of an artistic mindset, too.
3. Bacon Grease
As unlikely as it might sound, during World War Two, bacon grease was collected along with other surplus cooking fats for the manufacture of bombs. Prior to that, it was utilized for the more innocuous purpose of a replacement for butter in cooking during the Depression era. Try using it in cooking now for an extra punch of flavor.
But how do you store old bacon grease? First things first, you have to pour it into a bowl or dish that fits inside your refrigerator. Once that’s done, you need to seal it shut to preserve the fat. Normally, that process will ensure that the grease is okay to use for a few weeks.
2. Old Toothbrushes
After a certain period of time, our toothbrushes will need to be replaced in the bathroom. But instead of putting them in the bin, these old tools might come in handy for some different jobs around the house. In fact, they could eventually be considered as one of the most useful utensils during a spring clean.
How? Well, toothbrushes have the ability to get into tight spots, so we can clean areas that we couldn’t reach before. From keyboards to nooks and crannies in the kitchen, it’ll make life a lot easier. And if that wasn’t enough, a toothbrush can be used as a makeshift shoe shine brush as well.
If you buy a daily newspaper, there’s a good chance that you’ll probably throw it away before getting the next one. However, you might want to take a leaf out of your grandparents’ book going forward. Although newspapers can be recycled after leaving your house, they do serve other purposes.
For instance, it’s possible to wrap up presents with newspapers, as opposed to standard wrapping paper. Furthermore, the material could pad out boxes that contain delicate heirlooms, as well as our pet’s litter tray. It also serves as a pretty good insulator, so you should probably keep hold of what you’ve got.