Spring Cleaning: Re-Purpose, Save Money And The Planet

KatphotoBy Kathleen Harvey, Owner, Plant Artistry, LLC

We all have stuff that no longer serves any purpose around the house, but we still have trouble getting rid of it. Either it’s still usable, may come in handy, or just holds some sentimental value. Periodically, when our things create too much clutter, we put them in attics, basements, storage units, or throw them away to take up space in landfills.

If you’re creative, you can help solve the problem by re-purposing, up-cycling and reusing your old things. Besides serving a new function, re-purposed items add this lovely touch of creativity and coziness to your space. In addition, it keeps things out of landfills and helps the planet at the same time. Here is a small sampling of projects to inspire you to look at your junk in a new way.

In the Garden

Old envelopes are great for seed storage. Write the plant name and date harvested on the outside to identify when it’s time to plant. Cut up plastic blinds make great plant labels. Yogurt and salad containers make great seed starters once holes for drainage are punched into the bottom. Use toilet paper rolls around newly transplanted seedlings to prevent horn worms from ruining your tomato seedlings. Place them 1 – 2” deep in the soil; by the time the plant grows, the roll will decompose. Old newspapers make a great weed block placed in between plants in flower beds. Use empty metal coffee cans to store fireplace ashes and kitchen compost until it is time to put them in your compost bin or directly into the soil. Have an old pair of crutches from an injury? Turned upside down, they can be used as a garden trellis for flowering vines, peas, or string beans.

Once you’re tired from all that work in the garden, take a break. Old pallets can be nailed together, painted, and turned into outdoor furniture.

Around the House

Have a coffee maker that uses K- Cups? It’s convenient, fast and easy, and it brews the perfect cup of coffee every time, right? But the downside is all of those little, plastic cups pile up in the landfill. Use K-Cups to organize small craft items and office supplies such as buttons and paper clips. They can also be used as individual candy holders for children’s parties!

Grocery stores often sell meat in large family packs at a bargain price. Family too small to use all that meat before it goes bad? Many plastic take out containers are dishwasher safe. Once washed, they can be used for freezing extra meat in individual meal sized portions.

Have an armoire or entertainment center that is no longer used? Move it into the kitchen, basement or garage, add some shelves, and it becomes a pantry. I removed flat sliding closet doors and replaced them with more attractive doors. The old doors were turned into shelving in the garage.

Recently replaced outdated drawer handles in the kitchen with shiny new ones? Old drawer handles attached to a peg board become earring holders to neatly display women’s earrings.

Old tissue boxes can become plastic bag dispensers.

Have an old crib, one that doesn’t meet new safety standards? Take it apart, use the sides and feet nailed to pallets in the middle as a mud room or porch bench.

Can’t find your keys in the morning? Paint a scrap piece of wood; add hooks by bending old flatware spoons or forks and nailing them to the scrap. Now you have a nifty a key holder to nail to the wall near your door. Larger pieces of wood with old flatware hooks become a hat and scarf holder.

Lastly, if you can’t find a use for your old things that still have life, freecycle them! You’ll be glad you did and the planet will be a little greener for your efforts.

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