What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

What skills to learn, what tools to get
EdithKeeler
Posts: 1067
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:55 pm

What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by EdithKeeler »

I thought it would be interesting to have a thread to share how everyone reuses /repurposes /upcycles “stuff.”

A couple of examples from me: I used to buy plastic containers to give Christmas cookies to friends. Now I liberate the tins that come to the office and sit in the break room, and use them the following year. I also have in the past saved my Folgers 1pound containers. Red for regular and green for decaf, and I buy both. They make great cookie containers when tied up with a festive ribbon.

I also save spaghetti sauce jars. Great for containers in the kitchen, holding buttons, beads, stitch markers, etc. I usually just wash and remove the label. Sometimes if motivated I’ll make a fancy label, but not usually.

I reuse sandwich bags and aluminum foil where possible.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 12653
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by jacob »

Those green plastic lids sold on parmesan containers fit on small-mouth mason jars. Useful as spice containers. Spice is vital to space travel.

ertyu
Posts: 1186
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by ertyu »

standard things like old clothes into rags and old toothbrushes into cleaning tools

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 12653
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by jacob »

I keep all wood cutoffs larger than about 1 cubic inch. I use them to make toys, small tools, and other things. There's a concept called "scrap wood challenge" that I enjoy. Smaller cutoffs go into a bin that I donate to my neighbor's outdoor fire pit once a year.

Frita
Posts: 594
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by Frita »

@EdithKeeler
*I wash foil and ziplocks too! In 29 years of marriage I have one bought one box of each. I have purchased multiple rolls of waxed paper and plastic wrap as an estimated rate of one per decade.
*My spouse saves coffee cans and jars to organize our garage/workshop. He screws the lids to the bottom of a shelf and can unscrew with one hand.

@jabob Great tip, it could be helpful for storing cornstarch to sprinkle for gravy, thickening, etc. or DIY scouring powder.

I buy large produce without bags but use them from smaller items (grapes, peapods, etc.). I reuse those bags for trash, to cover items, etc.

I wash and save the thick plastic bag from cereal. Cut to size, this works to form individual veggie or meat patties, pat out a biscuit crust when I want to pat out a dough, or use as splatterguard in the microwave.

Save all bread crumbs and random ends in a ziplock bag in freezer. Use for meatballs.

Save tips, peels, and skins (no potatoes) in ziplock bag in freezer. When it’s full, make veggie stock. Compost the pulp with regular compost.

My spouse seems to like McDonalds and Taco Bell. They give him lots of napkins. Save and use. They make good enough paper towels too.

I am making a bottle tree from wine and liquor bottles. We have a living fence that looks pretty sad in the winter. The yellow, blue, and green glass spiff it up. (My spouse’s best friend is a recovering alcoholic. He sourced all the blue SKYY vodka bottles which are quite pretty.)

EdithKeeler
Posts: 1067
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:55 pm

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by EdithKeeler »

“Spice must flow!”

Do you guys remember a magazine that was around for 10 years or so, called “Readymade?” They uses to have really cool ideas for using old stuff, etc. They had challenges like “what can you make with 2 old pallets?” That were always really interesting.

I like “Make” magazine, but the focus is much different.

Mae
Posts: 73
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by Mae »

Any paper wrapping, envelopes, ... I can write on for shopping lists.

Before I throw away anything, I ask myself (not "does this spark joy?" but) "can I use this in any way for the pets?"

Repurposed boxes for storage, also cut the top and bottom off and used it to separate clothing (socks, underwear) in a drawer.

My neighbour gives me her magazines after she read them to make collages. I also cut out the sudokus for brain training.

ertyu
Posts: 1186
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by ertyu »

Mae wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:05 am
I also cut out the sudokus for brain training.
http://websudoku.com/

hi fellow sudoku person

Mae
Posts: 73
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by Mae »

ertyu wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:40 am
http://websudoku.com/

hi fellow sudoku person
:lol: That would work, too. Thank you!

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 4813
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by Ego »

Mrs. Ego is a shameless paper napkin and paper towel reuser. If we are at a party where the host presents a snack on a napkin she will collect the napkins and stuff them in her bra for reuse at home. It's not unusual for her to come home from a party two sizes larger. She says she is two sizes more popular. Win-Win. She also reuses her own hand-drying paper towels from public restrooms. I wipe them on my pants. ;)

I mail a lot of packages. Yesterday I had more than twenty outgoing. When digging through the trash I usually find a pile of reusable shipping supplies. I would gladly ship everything in recycled boxes but I often have to use the flat-rate boxes from USPS as the price differential is significant. I've heard rumors that they are considering cancelling the flat-rate boxes.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 12653
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by jacob »

Packaging material for sure. I save everything and have enough to fill a small closet. I happen to have a surplus that I'm not looking to use in the near future since the 2018/19 downcycle wave has passed. If anyone in the Chicago area is in need of envelopes, boxes of various shapes and sizes, bubble wrap, popcorn, or other filler, LMK.

Local pickup only.

reepicheep
Posts: 360
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:45 am

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by reepicheep »

Woodworker girlfriend would like everyone to know not to use recycled pallets for furniture as they off gas a bunch of shit when the sun hits them that will give you cancer. They are soaked in something that reduces mold/moisture problems.

She was not more specific. She also discouraged their use in compost bins. Apparently the really terrible stuff is being phased out and so a lot of good looking pallets are now available for free, except they are coated in the really terrible stuff.

Also, she may just be professionally offended by pallet use in furniture.

I have a growing collection of twisty ties. I'm not sure what I plan to do with them, tbh. Also have a lot of cardboard and brown paper grocery bags. Useful for when I slip further down the housing scale into homelessness, I guess?

horsewoman
Posts: 518
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by horsewoman »

Old socks and panty hose cut down to hair ties. DD and I both have long hair, so we go through a lot.
I use the sock elastics for a lot of other things instead of rubber rings.

Holey t-shirts get tuned into rags and handkerchiefs, too small pieces get used for really dirty jobs to throw away after use.
I have also a crocheted rag-rug made of t-shirts on the go. It grows rather slowly, though.

Jars from sauce & pickles: storage in the pantry and freezer (just leave some room for expansion and nothing will break in the freezer). I also reuse them for my homemade jam and applesauce. I often buy certain kinds of pickles because they have particularly useful jars.

I keep most plastic containers for a while, either to freeze stuff, or to keep small leftovers in the fridge.

Shoe boxes painted with acrylic paint make nice storage containers.

Fabric shopping bags made out of old pillow cases.
My apron is made of different pillow cases as well, mix and match style.

When our dogs got spayed I made "onsies" out of old children's hoodies to avoiding licking on the wounds. No "cone of shame" necessary! There are tutorials online for these.

The panels of the wooden baby playpen are now barriers for the dogs.

Our Christmas tree is a cut-off branch of an apple tree. So far we got 3 Christmases out of it, no needles and it is so pretty with fairy lights and baubles.

User avatar
Sclass
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:15 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by Sclass »

Tonight, zippers. I was disposing of this ripped laptop bag and noticed it a handful of high quality zippers on it. I was thinking they'd take forever with a seam ripper to remove but I decided to use an exacto knife instead. I sharpened up my blade to a wicked razor's edge on my new diamond hone. So I guess I reuse exacto blades instead of discarding dull ones.

If you get the knife in the right spot on the seam and tug at the zipper it just cuts right through the stitching. I was cutting about 1" per second. I think I got all the zippers in twenty minutes. Not bad. I'll be able to use these for making leather tool bags.

The bag before deconstruction.
Image

The haul of zippers. And some high impact foam sheet, a strap and some hardware. I'm reusing my junk Mercedes 300d is below the zippers as a table. Running out of space in the shop.
Image

The discarded bag. I guess I repurposed the milk crate too. They need some boards wired to the top to keep from breaking when I use it as a step stool. The car is partially recycled. It is built from 30% used parts. I'd like to say because junk parts are cheap, but actually the parts are getting scarce and collectors are being forced to reuse and rebuild old parts to keep the vehicles going now that MB has dropped replacement part inventory.
Image

I get them here.
Image

I assemble them into things like this.
Image

I think I'll stop here.

horsewoman
Posts: 518
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by horsewoman »

Sclass wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:49 pm
I think I'll stop here.
Please don't!

More repurposing for pets:
Our cats scratching post is a large pine tree branch, screwed upright on a platform on the floor and outfitted with sisal scratching mats. The cats love to climb up and lounge on the smaller branches.

A large drawer with a soft pillow makes a comfy dog bed.

The fitted small sheets for cribs/kids beds are great for covering up stuff - the elastic keeps it together nicely. I use them to cover up our saddles. They tend to collect mould when left uncovered, and saddles are obscenely expensive so it makes sense to take good care of them.

Torn bed sheets are used to clean up the dogs until completely destroyed.

DD makes dog toys out of strips of sturdy fabric. Braided and knotted together they keep up well for tugging games.

I kept my old washing machine for dog and horse stuff. It will not be working much longer, but it can handle a load now and then. Keeps the main machine free(er) of animal hair.

Storage:
DH takes home a lot of sturdy cardboard boxes from work, where they get vegetables delivered. The boxes are not pretty, so I covered a stack of them with a nice wall paper. I have one for my sheet music, one for packing materials,.... on a shelf in the living room. I also use them in my wardrobe to keep together smaller stuff like bathing suits and underwear.

Sometimes he lucks out and gets his mittens on nice wooden crates. Our hats, scarves and gloves are stored in these.

Cottage cheese and margarine containers are great drawer dividers.

Car
(nowhere near impressive as @Sclass, but still useful!)

The handle of the glove compartment in our car broke, so it was open all the time. Duct tape was not ideal, since it was no longer accessible. So I put a wooden popsicle stick in, the weight of the lid puts enough pressure on the stick to hold it down. Works like a charm!

Our soon-to-be-gone second car has sliding doors on the back seats. The sensor of one door does not work properly, so even if closed all the way, the warning system would beep all the time. Very annoying! So I glued a small piece of gravel on top of the bolt with sticky tape, to make it longer. It has been holding up for months and the beeping is gone. So I guess I repurposed gravel :) This would have been a good entry for the fix it log as well.

User avatar
Sclass
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:15 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by Sclass »

horsewoman wrote:
Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:12 am
I kept my old washing machine for dog and horse stuff. It will not be working much longer, but it can handle a load now and then. Keeps the main machine free(er) of animal hair.
This is brilliant if you have the space. My friend runs a transmission rebuilding shop and keeps a washer dryer set in the garage for reusing dirty rags and washing employee uniforms. He says it saves a lot of money because each transmission requires a big pile of clean shop towels and at least one clean set of coveralls. We joke around about it because it looks out of place but it is clear he runs an efficient business.

The older machines are actually easier to keep running because many of the electromechanical parts (at least on US models) were universal between manufacturers. I keep my late mothers washer set going by occasionally replacing things like, belts, motors, timers, valves and switches. I bought parts at the appliance repair shop and now online at places like repair clinic and appliance pros. I think it’s thirty-five years old.

I’m currently waiting for a Carrier furnace impeller control board from Amazon for my mother-in-law’s gas heater. It’s about twenty years old and will not light. Her old bones cannot take the Los Angeles winter :D .

Lucky C
Posts: 586
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:09 am

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by Lucky C »

Dryer lint is useful for starting fires!

davtheram12
Posts: 72
Joined: Mon May 28, 2018 6:02 pm

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by davtheram12 »

Here's a quick list:
Wood from previous woodworking projects into other woodworking projects or campfire kindling.
Old Clothes turned into rags for dirty jobs like car and bike repairs.
Scavenged items from the alley behind my apartment. Some items are in such good shape, or new, that Ill give them away as gifts.
Scrap ingredients usually in the form of bits I cant use in a primary dish turned into vegetable stock, meat stock, meatballs, etc.

paretotime
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:58 pm

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by paretotime »

Fabric from broken umbrellas into bicycle seat covers, hood or poncho for people or pets, backpack cover, foldable grocery bag, loose sleeve for long wet umbrella so you don't drip when you go into a store or business.

Empty tissue boxes as mini recycle bins at work. Clearly labelled as 'dead pen/marker collection' and 'dead batteries' and placed near bins so co-workers don't just toss these items. When the boxes are full, they get sent to the eco station and tetracycle bin on campus and another of the endless tissue boxes gets labelled and put out.

Textile upcycling of all kinds is so useful but can be tough to brainstorm the next steps unless you have a specific project in mind. In another group, there were lots of project ideas, but also many questions about 'what can I do with this particular thing?' that I've started to sort things into a mental flow chart along the lines of:
1. Consider the condition. Is the item in good condition but not your style, size, or needed by you? -Donate or gift it 'as is' to someone who can use a great new thing. -Use it for an unintended purpose without altering it (blanket as furniture cover, tablecloth as art, clothes layered differently than usual such as under or over other pieces.
2. To change size or style, decide if minor or major changes are needed. -minor includes making them shorter or smaller, changing trims, adding darts. -medium changes are changing zippers, making something slightly larger or longer. -major changes are keeping only a few original features, combining with other pieces, taking down to raw materials
3. Any unique or finished features to be reused? Surface treatments, button plackets or hems to use on a new item.
4. Condition (continued) -fix minor damage with cleaning, invisible or visible mending or embroidering, de-pilling, shining, replacing buttons or trim, covering stains with patches/pockets/embellishment/trim/dye. -bigger fixes are replacing zip, covering large holes, combining pieces to colorblock. -for very damaged items take apart and use raw materials (see list below), use very stained items as rags, small pieces and unusable soft pieces can be cushion filler, broken zippers can become trim.

Raw materials from textile items: consider material type and size to determine common uses
Wool and heavier weight blankets - felt & shrink it, cut and serge edges and use for stretchy warm items (knit hats, mittens, scarves, sweater, winter items, blanket, stuffed animals), jackets, vests, suits, pants, bags
Knit fabrics - unravel it & reknit it, same as wool for stretchy warm items, use as ribbing, t shirt yarn, light weight knits into underwear
Sheers/lace - use as trim, produce bags, curtains, on tops
Cotton/linen - make bias tape, shirting, shopping totes, produce bags, napkins, aprons, handkerchiefs
Leather/heavyweight/furnishing fabric - small pieces into cord keepers, trim, cover worn bottom and corners on fabric bags, add trim to pants hems to cover or prevent wear, soles on slippers or soft shoes, elbow patches; bigger pieces into bags
Upholstery weight - cushions, bags, curtains, placemats, pants or jackets

sort pieces by size - lengths/yardage, fat quarters, smaller pieces, offcuts (good for rag rugs, t-shirt yarn), trimmings for pillow stuffings. Any can be pieced into larger sizes

Shoes/boots - can they be repaired by cobbler? Improved by polish/painting/new laces? Can soles be reused for new shoes (espadrilles, flip flops), can top or upper be changed/cut off, trim/accessories added or removed. Tall boots made into ankle height (use extra leather on other projects), make spats

In non fabric upcycling, boxes from phones and tablets are great sizes for organizing drawers.

horsewoman
Posts: 518
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: What do you reuse/repurpose/upcycle?

Post by horsewoman »

horsewoman wrote:
Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:12 am
Our cats scratching post is a large pine tree branch, screwed upright on a platform on the floor and outfitted with sisal scratching mats. The cats love to climb up and lounge on the smaller branches.
I just realized that I use the horizontal branches of the scratching post for drying laundry in winter. The post is placed next to our masonry stove, so it is ideal to hang thick jumpers or jeans to dry. Repurposing of a repurposed item - nice!
The cats can still use the scratching mats screwed to the stump, even with laundry hanging.

Post Reply