Washi Tape

Let’s Talk Trash

By Erin Huffstetler | 03/05/2015 | 9 Comments
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I’ve shown you many of the things that we’ve rescued from other people’s curb piles over the years, but I haven’t shown you what we rescue from our own trash. And that’s as much a part of how we save money. So, let me take you through some of the things that we’ve deemed too good to throw out, and I’ll show you how we use them.

Bread Tags

I stick them on the ends of my Washi tape rolls, so we don’t have to peel up the ends every time we use them. This saves us quite a bit of time when we’re preparing Etsy orders.

Gift Baskets

Take-Out Containers, Strawberry Boxes and Oatmeal Containers

This is my gift wrap of choice. Just add a little tissue paper, and you have the perfect presentation. Since these containers are food-safe, they also work beautifully for wrapping food gifts. Click here to see more examples.

Homemade Bug Repellent

Empty Deodorant Containers

I wash them out, and refill them with my homemade bug repellent sticks.

Board Game

Plastic Newspaper Sleeves

I use them to bundle small items together when we’re having a yard sale or participating in a consignment sale. Just tie a knot in the top, and you don’t have to worry about anything falling out.

Wintersowing Milk Jug Greenhouse

Milk Jugs

We save them all winter. Then, we use them to wintersow our garden seeds.


Egg Cartons

Since we have chickens, we refill our cartons again and again until they’re worn out. Then, they go in the compost pile. Occasionally, I’ll use them to make fire starters. Just stuff the cups with dryer lint (something else I don’t throw away); pour melted wax over top; and you have a great fire starter.

Egg Shells

Egg Shells

Since egg shells are full of calcium, they’re the ideal fertilizer for tomatoes. And since broken egg shells are sharp to the touch, they’re also an excellent pest deterrent. Just grind them up, and sprinkle them around your vegetable plants throughout the growing season, to prevent blossom end rot and keep slugs, cats and other garden pests away.

Plastic Grocery Bags

Plastic Grocery Bags

Paying for trash bags pains me, so we use grocery bags in all of our small trash bags. That just leaves us buying bags for the kitchen trash can, which is painful enough.

Dried Herbs

Spice Jars (lids off parm cheese)

I grow and dry a lot of my own spices, so I wash and reuse my store-bought spice jars. I also keep the lids off of my empty Parmesan cheese containers. When you screw them onto a wide-mouth jar, you have the perfect container for storing bulk spices.

Candle Wax

Old Candles

When I’ve burned a candle all the way to the bottom, I melt down the remaining wax, and use it to make a new candle or a batch of fire starters.

So, those are some of the things that I don’t throw away, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a bunch more. Are there things that you refuse to throw out? I’d love to hear from you.

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  1. I would add toilet paper rolls and oatmeal boxes. I use toilet paper rolls to keep extension cords under control and I keep a paper towel tube in my car stuffed with plastic bags so I always have one when needed.

    Oatmeal boxes are handy for storing so many things, right now I have one full of canning jar rings.

    • Yep, I actually save both of those things. Like you, I use toilet paper rolls to keep cords in check. I also stuff them with dryer lint, and use them as fire starter, as someone else mentioned. Oatmeal boxes are one of my favorite things to wrap gifts in. Just add a band of wrapping paper, and they’re good to go. I hadn’t thought about using them as storage containers. That’s a great idea.

  2. Toilet paper rolls and dryer lint – stuff the lint in the cardboard roll and it is a great fire starter.

    • Yep, I do almost the same thing. The only difference is that I roll the toilet paper roll in newspaper after it’s stuffed with dryer lint, and tuck in the ends. My kids enjoy making them, so I always have plenty on hand 🙂

  3. I save the plastic liners from cereal boxes. I use them for pounding chicken for scallopini and freezing meat, leftovers, or fruit for smoothies.

    • Kerry, those plastic liners are really strong! I like to use them if I’m going to crush graham crackers or corn flakes for a recipe. They are much sturdier than the ziploc bags when there is such an aggressive job to do.

  4. I prefer to use shredded junk mail to fill my toilet rolls for fire-starters.

    Several years ago a friend saw my collection of toilet roll centers and asked if he could have them to start his plants. He lined a shoe box with newspaper, stood the toilet-paper centers up and packed closely together. then filled each with potting soil, added the seeds, watered, and had easy to transplant seedlings in no time. He just planted the whole thing when the seedlings were ready to go in the garden.

    I have used toilet roll centers to make Christmas ornaments – I cut them to match the width of ribbon that I have (usually 1 or 1 1/2 inch) then I cut tops and bottom circles from posterboard that I glue on to make a drum and cover them with the ribbon, add cording and glitter, then cut toothpicks for drum-sticks and hang them on the tree.

    I’ve used the little boxes that Milk Duds come in at Halloween for ornaments, too. I carefully take them apart and turn them inside out and reseal them, then tie them up in a scrap of tulle and tie it with ribbon and hang that on the tree or add them to the table decorations at a Christmas banquet. The appeal of these ornaments is that they don’t break when the cat or dog attack the tree and if they get crushed it is easy to replace them.

  5. I confess to buying Nestle’ Quick in both the large containers (similar to the oatmeal boxes) and the smaller yellow plastic boxes with the lids that fit really well. I keep trying to save them, but I can never think of what to do with them? I don’t have any small children in the house so controlling toy clutter isn’t going to happen. Any suggestions? Anyone?

    • Just noticed that my photo shows a grandson – yes, I have plenty of grandchildren but my daughters have already turned down any suggestion that they might “need” those containers.

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