Re-using household items

In the process of trying to reduce our garbage, I’ve come across several items that I needed and wanted to not buy — and conversely, several items I hated to throw away but couldn’t easily recycle. By reusing these items, necessity meets utility.

Quite some time ago, when I started cleaning everything with baking soda instead of scouring powder, I wanted a convenient container – like the one scouring powder comes in. I found an old plastic peanut butter jar in my laundry room, used a nail to punch a bunch of holes in the lid, and voila – my baking soda shaker makes cleaning the bathroom a tiny bit easier.

baking soda shaker

In the kitchen, we have liquid dishwashing soap for washing dishes, but I prefer to wash my hands with something else. We usually use bar soap that has been sitting on a saucer, but Mr. Cheap complained a lot about the soap’s soggy bottom.

The solution? Inspired by this number on Green as a Thistle’s blog, I saved up chopsticks from a couple of sushi outings (I know, I know, we could take our own, but I didn’t think of it), sawed them in half and tied them together with jute twine. It could be fancier. Then again, we could have soggy-bottom soap.

soap dish

In my bathroom, I have spent the past several years using up a giant jug of hand soap I bought at Costco (literally several — I bought it before we moved into this house three years ago). In between, I’ve gotten some “soft soap” type liquid soap at the store when it was free with a coupon. Even though I haven’t bought that soap in at least a year, we’ve been using the containers on the sink. Finally, I finished the heinous, stinky bottle of Dove hand soap recently. As I was debating refilling it, I remembered a lotion bottle I had emptied recently that was much more attractive. The label soaked right off, and now I have Dr. Bronner’s organic, fair trade lavender hand soap — in a much nicer container.

hand soap bottle

Finally, on a recent outing to my sister’s cabin, I was preparing the food to take along and bemoaning our lack of tiny, tiny storage containers — small enough to take along some salt or the cinnamon for French toast. With excellent synchronicity, it came time to change my contact lens container.

I can only tolerate contacts easily by using Clear Care, a bubbling peroxide concoction that requires storage in little hard plastic containers with lens-holder inserts. I hate to throw them out – it’s a lot of hard plastic. But by breaking off the lens-holder portion I can save the bottle for teensy-weensy storage (as a bonus, it’s even a watertight container!). The picture below shows before (left) and after (right).

re-use contact lens container

Now to think of something to do with the broken-off lens portion … it looks like a Barbie-sized version of those crazy devices to hold your bra’s shape in the washing machine. If only our Barbies weren’t braless, brazen hussies.


7 thoughts on “Re-using household items

  1. Melissa says:

    If you have more contact lens solution bottles, send them our way – they sound great for fly fishing bits and pieces. My craft room was recently raided for the tiny see-through brad, bead and eyelet containers that I’d used the contents of, but set aside “just in case”.

  2. erin says:

    “If only our Barbies weren’t braless, brazen hussies.” That made me laugh out loud. Do they really have a product like that???

    Just looking on my desk I am seeing a metal tin that once held scotch whiskey which now has embroidery thread in it. There is an enameled ashtray that has a collection of rocks and shells. And finally, there is a mesh bag, which once held a rock climbing harness, which now holds some large beads and thread. This is supposed to be a manual dexterity and meditative toy for small children. In the hands of my kids, however, the thread / bead combination turned into a weapon so now it is in “time out”.

  3. Jenn says:

    Thanks for the great idea for my baking soda! I’ve got a peanut butter jar that I’ve been saving for some purpose and I think this will keep me from pouring out too much baking soda from the box when I’m cleaning.

  4. RecycleCindy says:

    I love your shaker for the baking soda. That is a wonderful idea for re-purposing. Don’t you just love it when you can create something so useful from your trash!

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