Other people already mentioned most of mine...but I do want to rave a moment about how glass jars are much better for food storage than plastic containers! They wash so much cleaner so much more easily! Things seem to stay fresh longer in them. The threaded lids almost never leak. My very favorite feature is this: If you put something hot in a glass jar and fill it very full and put on the lid immediately, sometimes it will seal so well that the food stays good (in the back of the fridge) for MONTHS. I'm talking about the jars from spaghetti sauce and such that have a circle that pops up when you break the seal--you can get that circle to pop down again when the jar is full of hot food. I wonder if it's then shelf-stable, like the original food was until opened, and doesn't even need to be refrigerated, but so far I haven't been brave enough to experiment! I love spaghetti and enjoy making my own sauce, but I figure I may as well make a big batch while I'm at it, so keeping it from getting moldy before we use it is an issue.
Glass juice bottles, too...I snagged 7 of them during my big recycling project
in 2002, and I'm still using them daily for juice to drink w/my lunch at work.
We reuse various types of food containers to buy food from the bulk section of our co-op (you scoop from a bin into your container, after weighing it empty and writing its weight on the label so the cashier can subtract it and charge you only for the food). It's fun deciding what's the best container for which food. There are products we haven't bought in years whose containers we're still using: raisins in a Maxwell House instant coffee jar, oats in the huge plastic jar that held 4 pounds of generic peanut butter, etc.
I cut up old knit clothes to make hankies
. Last time, I was left with some shreds of pretty fabric from the edges, so I used them as cushioning for a gift I was mailing to my mom--rather than wrap it, I just put it in an envelope and stuffed the gaps with the fabric scraps.Here
are ideas for reusing mesh produce bags, remnants of bar soap, extra address labels and other stickers, scrap paper, egg cartons, and unwanted tobacco.
We made our own Christmas tree
out of a cardboard box and the green plastic bags the Sunday paper comes in.
We save gift wrap and use it over again. When it has no large areas that look nice, we cut out the best-looking parts to use as gift tags or to decorate plain paper: reused tissue or an inside-out brown bag. (We also have a lot of cloth gift bags that we use over and over, but most of them we made from new fabric. A few were made from scraps from larger projects.)
When my son was a baby, he had hours of fun playing with shaker-toys made from the cardboard canisters with plastic lids that fried onions (
come in, with a bottle cap or something like that inside.
My Girl Scouts designed a restaurant as part of their Cooking badge and held a "grand opening" where we served "free samples" of the foods we'd made. All the dishes we used were food packaging the girls and I had saved, which would otherwise have been recycled or trashed, and which got this one additional use before it met that fate. It was fun seeing the variety of dishes we collected and deciding which was best for what food!
I save business reply mail envelopes that I'm not going to use, and give one to each Girl Scout patrol (small group within the troop) to collect their dues money. Each girl writes on the envelope her name and how much she paid. That way I just toss the sealed envelopes into my bag and don't have to count the money until I get home!
When we moved, we bought new pink dishcloths to match our new kitchen and demoted the old ones (green and other colors) to bathroom cleaning cloths. As they get worn out, they become "rags" that get one last use for some yucky job and then get thrown away.
We use produce bags over and over again until they tear or something gets moldy in them. After using the produce, we put the bag into one of our canvas totes that we use for grocery shopping so that we'll have it next time.
We use bags from bread, etc., to store various foods and just keep shaking out crumbs, rinsing or washing if necessary, and using them again.