Green Living 101: Things You Can Reuse To Save Money

by heather

If you’re looking for ways to save money and go green, then this is the perfect list for you. I love it when things can do double-duty, and “Reuse” is second on the Holy Trio of green living (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

I think many people have gotten really good at #3. After all, recycling is at an all time high. But, there’s a reason why it’s last on the list. Reducing consumption is, by and large, the best way to go green.

After that comes Reuse, which is what I’m focusing on today. Reusing things not only helps the environment, but it’s also a great way to save money.

The Magic Go Green List

1. Reuse Egg Cartons

  • Egg cartons make great seed starters in the spring.
  • If they’re styrofoam, you can break off each little egg cup and use them to cushion items when you have to ship something through the mail.

2. Reuse Your Blue Jeans

  • This idea came from one of our readers here at The Greenest Dollar. His idea? Use the leg of old jeans as door draft stoppers. Cut off a leg (a blue jean leg, that is), stuff it with old fabric or other filling like plastic bags, and sew up both ends. They work great for keeping doorway drafts at bay.

3. Reuse Your Coffee Grounds

  • Coffee Grounds (after you’ve made coffee, of course) make a great exfoliator. Use them to wash your hands after you’ve been digging in the dirt. Just mix a tablespoon of regular coffee grounds in your hand with one pump of your regular hand soap and you’re good to go!
  • Coffee grounds also work great in your yard. Sprinkle them in your flower beds or vegetable garden to add nutrients to the soil.

4. Reuse Wet Wipe Containers

  • If you have kids, then you have wet wipes. The empty containers are great for storing string and ribbon. Stick a piece of each ribbon out the hole and all you have to do is pull and cut. No tangles!
  • Wet wipe containers also work great for holding puzzle pieces or game pieces.
  • These containers are also perfect for storing Kleenex, especially in a bathroom that gets pretty wet or dusty.

5. Reuse Your Coffee Can

  • If you’re interested in composting, you don’t have to drop $30 on a ceramic “composting crock” for your kitchen. Just use your old coffee can. It’s airtight, so you won’t get any smell, and very easy to wash.

6. Reuse Old Maps

  • Old, dated maps make the best wrapping paper! Especially this time of year…
  • Old maps can also make interesting posters, especially if you have a bunch and can do a large section of wall.

7. Reuse Your Old Pens

Some households have absolutely no pens, ever. Others have so many pens they don’t know what to do with them all. If you have a ton of pens floating around, here are some ideas:

  • Donate them to your local school, library, women’s center, senior center, hospice home, or animal shelter.
  • Take them to work and put them in a jar by the copying machine for people to take with them.

8. Reuse Your Electronics

  • Go to Gazelle.com to sell your electronics to others who really need them. Gazelle focuses on everything electric: cell phones, camcorders, video game consoles, computers, PDAs, cameras, movies, MP3 players…everything gets an offer, and they’ll even send you a box to ship it out for free. If you have anything electric you want to get rid of, check out their site. You’ll help the environment, and earn money at the same time. Gazelle has been featured on the Today Show and CNN Money.

9. Reuse Old Envelopes

  • I use the envelopes from the mail I get everyday as shopping list paper. They’re the perfect size, and when I’m done with the list I toss it into the recycle bin. I never buy new paper for scribbling notes or To Do lists!

10. Reuse Roll-On Deodorant Sticks

  • Once the deodorant is used up wash out the base and then fill it with paint for your kids to play with. Stick the roller ball back in, and they’re good to go.
  • If you have a cat, the roller ball itself will make a fun toy for her to bat around.
  • If you’re into ping pong, then use the ball for your next game. Fun!

Additional Resources

I stumbled onto a fantastic site while doing research for this article.

How Can I Recycle This? is a site fully devoted to reusing things you normally have around the house. Some of her suggestions were sheer genius, so if you’re interested in learning more about how to reuse the common “stuff” you have around the house, please check out her site.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

RecycleCindy December 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Hello, I followed your link over from Eco Carnival this week. These are some excellent ideas. I of course love that you mentioned recycled denim as it’s one of my favorite materials for upcycling into new, usable items such as potholders, purses, pillows, quilts, etc.

Bethany Dinardo June 10, 2009 at 7:53 am

Hi, i am a girl from Berwick high school and we are being told to recycle but the rules are so strict and no one knows what we can recycle and what the signs actually mean!! We do try our best, but what do these signs mean ??? It would be good to know.

heather June 10, 2009 at 8:32 am

Hi Bethany,

Thanks so much for writing in, and for trying to recycle!

What signs do you mean? Are you referring to the numbered symbols on the bottom of plastic, or more specific signs at your school?

Let me know, and I’ll try to help you the best I can!

adam starr December 21, 2009 at 8:51 am

This is a nice sentiment, but a lot of the re-use ideas (while interesting) don’t really make any sort of difference because they are re-uses that aren’t really necessary. Sure, if you’re going to be buying a draft blocker anyhow (presumably you don’t own a towel), then yes, using a pant leg from old jeans will save the energy that would have been required to make a “new” draft blocker. But a lot of these ideas seem like they turn old items into fodder for some lower use (cat pingpong ball toy, ribbon containers etc). These are examples of fabricating a need which the junk item can conveniently fill. If you think about it, the ribbon was just fine before being put into a wet-nap container. This is really just shuffling things around without making any actual change. If you keep buying wet naps in wet nap containers, soon you’ll run out of ribbon to put in them and again be tossing them into a recycle tub. It’s the consumption in the first place that is the major issue. All this creative re-use (unless it fills a pre-existing need and not a fabricated need that would not otherwise be required) is just fun, creative distraction. This is fine – fun is good – but it’s not making a difference in the problem.

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