How to Reuse Everyday Items
Buy. Landfill. Repeat. How about adding reuse in the mix? Below you will find a list of common household items and your options for re-inventing, re-cycling, re-selling and more.
Review the legend and click on each item to see all the options you have!
Donate your used car to your favorite charitable organization.
Blankets, Comforters, Sleeping Bags
Donate these items to your favorite local charitable organization.
- Keep one in your trunk, in case you need it (either for warmth or wrapping fragile items) so you will always have one on hand.
- Use for recreation such as concerts, sports games, camping, days in the park, or the beach.
Donate unwanted books to the Orange County Public Libraries in Irvine. The books will be sold at the Friends of the Library Bookstore and the proceeds go to benefit the library.
Consider re-selling your book(s) on-line.
Bottles & Cans
Cardboard (including cardboard used in egg cartons, drinking trays, etc.) can either be recycled or used as a valuable “brown material” in your compost.
Other uses for egg cartons:
- Use to sprout seedlings for your garden.
- Break them into smaller pieces and use them to protect items while shipping or in storage.
- Use to store different odds and ends like ping-pong balls, rings, watches, hair ties or bobby pins.
Check with your local electronic retailer to see if there is a recycling program for CDs and DVDs.
Cell phones should not be placed in the trash. Instead, you can donate old cell phones to help your favorite charitable organization.
As of July 1, 2006, any store that sells cellular phones must in turn accept those cell phones for recycling. You can also dispose of the phones at your local household hazardous waste center.
Clothing and Accessories
Drop off your clothing, kid’s clothing, household items, electronics, and appliances at your favorite charitable organization or a local local thrift store.
An easy way to update your closet or make room for next season’s wardrobe is checking with a local consignment shop to see if it will take gently worn and designer clothing for cash or store credit.
Check on-line for local and national charitable organizations who will gladly accept computer donations.
Computers, televisions, copiers, microwave ovens, alarm clocks, etc. contain materials that are considered too toxic to put in the trash.
Check on-line for charitable organizations that accept donated eyeglasses.
Give eyeglasses back to participating eyeglass retail stores who then donate to charitable organizations.
Fabric Softener Sheets
Here are some tips for reusing your fabric softener sheets after their trip in the dryer:
- Remove static cling from pants legs, shirts, skirts and even your hair by running a used fabric softener sheet over the area
- Use them as a pet hair remover by rubbing it on your clothes
- Use them to dust blinds and other surfaces
Donate boxed/bagged/canned food or money to Orange County Food Bank through America’s Second Harvest Food Bank.
- You can even donate online through the AidMatrix and save money on gas! An extra point for Zero Waste.
Food scraps such as vegetable and fruit trimmings, egg shells and stale bread can all be composted. Composting allows the materials to naturally decompose and create nutrient rich soil to be used around the yard and garden.
Furniture no longer in use may be donated to your favorite charitable organization.
Check on-line about re-selling used furniture. Think of it as an online garage sale! Be sure to request local pickup and cash only to avoid scams.
Check on-line for creative ideas to make furniture from other used materials or recreate what you already have.
Did your garden hose spring a leak? Put it to good use with some creative recycling ideas and keep it out of the landfill.
- Make handy grips for your garden tools. Cut short pieces of garden hose, slit them lengthwise and slip them over the handles of your hoes, trowels, rakes and other garden tools. A grip on a bucket handle will make carrying a heavy load much easier on your hands.
- Make an inexpensive soaker hose. Just seal one end with an end cap and make small holes along the hose. Connect it to a good hose and let it trickle into your garden or let the kids run through.
Gift Wrap and Gift Bags
By recycling leftover gift wrap, your gifts will keep on giving.
Unwrap these ideas for a whole heap of new ways to reuse your wrapping paper.
- Shred it to use as stuffing in gift bags and gift boxes for future gift giving needs
- Make textbook covers, gift tags or cards
Grass and Yard Clippings
How to use Grasscycling to provide essential nutrients for the soil:
- When you mow the lawn, don’t cut more than 1/3 of the original grass blade.
- Take the excess clippings and spread them on the lawn to create mulch.*
* Avoid applying thick coats which may start to form mats on your lawn.
Place your old magazines in the recycling bin along with your newspapers. Make sure to opt out of consumer magazines that you no longer have use for by contacting the company and asking them to remove you from their mailing list.
Create fun homemade envelopes from pages from your magazines. Simply trace a regular envelope onto a magazine page, cut along the lines, fold and glue. Another idea for magazines is to cut out the pictures and use them to decorate your home.
Leftover paint is too toxic to place in the trash and must be taken to a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Center. The HHW center also offers the “Stop and Swap” program which allows you to drop off any products that you may no longer need while also picking up other products free of charge.
Pesticides & Fertilizers
Leftover pesticides & fertilizers are too toxic to place in the trash and must be taken to a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Center. The HHW center also offers the “Stop and Swap” program which allows you to drop off any products that you no longer need while also picking up other products free of charge.
Waste Management of Orange County has added plastic bags as one of the recyclables accepted in your curbside recycling bin. Please place plastic bags for recycling inside one plastic bag, not loose in the cart, to ensure that all the plastic will be captured in the sorting process.
Here are some useful ideas to re-invent your plastic bags into something functional:
- Use to line garbage cans in your bathroom or office
- Use to discard pet waste from litter boxes or dog walks
- Use as a travel recycling bag – keep in your car, purse or suitcase to collect recyclables while on the go
Donate your old shoes that are in good condition to your favorite charitable organization.
Check on-line to trade goods such as clothes, accessories, and shoes.
Check with your favorite shoe manufacturers to see if they have a recycling program that allows you to drop off or ship your old shoes for them to reuse the materials.
Equipment and games that you no longer use can be donated to your favorite charitable organization or local thrift store.
Sell your sporting goods on-line or to local stores that will give you cash or store credit.
- Shred it to make confetti for a birthday party
- Use it as gift wrap or as tissue paper to stuff in a gift bag
- Shred it to use in a compost bin