Alternative Uses for Common Products

Before you throw that item in the recycling bin or trash, think again. 

Plastic Bottles

  • Fill 1/2 to 3/4 full of water, freeze and use in the cooler.
  • Cut on a diagonal from top to bottom in order to use as a scooper for pet food or for sand.
  • Cut off the bottom and put over young plants to protect them from freezing.
  • Cut off the top half and use the bottom as a planter for growing plants from seed or use to store seedlings.

Steel Cans

  • Remove label and replace with construction paper.  Decorate for a personalized office supply holder.
  • Cut out a piece of fabric a 1/2 inch wider than mouth of can.  Fill the can with beans or rocks.  Attach the fabric with a rubberband and shake for a homemade band instrument for kids.
  • Use a coffee can to hold kitchen grease.  S​tore in refrigerator and dispose in trash when full.

Cardboard Tubes

  • Slide them into knee-high boots to help them hold their shape during storage.
  • Roll cloth napkins around tubes for crease-free storage or have kids decorate the tube and use as a napkin ring holder.
  • Wrap extension cords or a string of lights around them for tangle-free storage.

Glass Jars

  • Wash, remove label and use as a flower vase.  Decorate with ribbon, paint, trinkets, etc.  Attach a wire mesh over the opening of the jar to help make arranging easier.
  • Clean and use to store screws, nails, pens, pencils, rocks, sea shells or just about anything.  Use the orginal lid, cork or decorative fabric.

Miscellaneous Items

  • Unused suitcase -  Use to store wrapping and tissue paper, bows, ribbons, bags, taps, scissors, and tape.  It can easily move to wherever you want to wrap gifts.
  • Old Socks - Pull over hands to dust crevices of lampshades, furniture and any hard to reach place.  Fill with soap slivers and use as a washcloth for kids' bath.  Store off-season shoes inside them to prevent scuffing during storage.  Tie together for a dog pull toy.
  • Baby Wipe Containers - Use as a kitchen caddy to store sponges, dish soap and cleaning brushes.  They can also be washed and used to organize kids socks, hair accessories, or toys.
  • Film Canisters - Mixing small portions of paint.  Fill with aspirin, change or lotion for purse or backpack.  Store seeds.  Fill with buttons or beads and use as a cat toy.
  • Shower Curtain - Use to cover your table while the kids are painting or doing a craft.  Line the car with it when transporting dirty items.  Use as a drop cloth or covering for furniture when painting. 
  • Greeting Cards - Use as a bookmark.  Make into gift tags by cutting with pinking shears and punching hole in the corner.  Cut off the front side with the picture and blank side on the inside to reuse as a postcard. 
  • Toothbrush - Use for cleaning auto parts or grooves between the tiles in your bathroom.  Use for polishing shoes where the shoe meets the sole.  Use for cleaning rings and jewelry.

Web Resources

50 All-Time Favorite New Uses for Old Things
50 Clever Upcycling Ideas

Contact Information

For more information please contact The Waste Diversion Program.​

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