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More great reader tips: reusing

May 13, 2010

Part of the holy triumvate of resource conservation, we sometimes forget that reuse comes up ahead of recycling because while the latter is better then landfill, its still an extremely energy intensive process.  Getting more use out of objects you have in your home and out of the food in your kitchen is a super simple way to reduce the need to buy new, and to divert items with still useful life in them still from the trash pile.  Our readers are keenly aware of the power or reuse and many of the tips submitted for our centendium giveaway fell into this catagory.  Thanks to everyone who submitted: and we hope that everyone will start using these ideas at home – I know I have!  And if you have your own tips to add, please share them in the comments below.


I am starting to save the inner bags in cereal boxes. if I am very careful and dont tear them they can be useful for freezer bags, sandwich bags etc. they are such a nice strong crisp material. -tip by Ibfromla

You know when you use Parmesan cheese and have that last super hard rind? Well, instead of tossing it chop it up and throw it into a stew/soup while your cooking it the last half hour or so, it’ll melt and mix in with the rest of your yummy goodness. – tip by Jasmin

I cannot claim this tip as my own, but that of a close friend. Instead of draining used bath water, she scoops it out with a bucket and uses it for flushing the toilet. (It’s a hard tip to describe without sounding slightly, or extremely weird but if you’ve never done so before, dumping a bucket of water in the toilet bowl will activate flushing.) -tip by Melissa Wagner

You can take your empty egg shells and put them in water, at least enough to cover them. Let it sit for a few days and water your plants with it. I’ve only tried it on African Violets, but they love it. Compost, green waste, or whatever the shells after that. -tip by KW

This is a super simple one, but good for spring when you buy asparagus… I save the heavy duty rubber bands that come on asparagus or broccoli. I don’t usually buy regular ones, and these are so much stronger anyway! I use them to reseal open bags, by wrapping the bag around (say, chocolate chips) and then securing the band around the whole works. They work great in the freezer, too. -tip by Rcakewalk

I like to use cloth napkins as much as I can. Makes me feel spiffy and of course, I re-use them. When the napkins have run their course, which takes a loooong time, they turn into rags. I keep a bucket filled with all of our cloth items that can’t be r-used or donated (old clothes, sheets, towels, etc.). Every once in a while, I sit and cut them up into usable squares and store them under the sink in the kitchen for myriad uses: cleaning out the cast iron pans with salt, for example, like Kate suggested, sans the spoon, or just in place of paper towels. Sometimes I clean these rags, and sometimes they are just done, and they finally get tossed. -tip by Julia

My neighbor taught me this: Instead of using part of a stick of butter to grease a pan, save the wrapping of butter and use the inside of the wrapping to grease the pan. -tip by Erika Beth, the Messy Chef

Save your leftover water after making pasta or steamed veggies. Let cool and use to water your potted plants. Saves water and has a lot of nutrients to give to the plants. – tip by Yummy Supper
Use 1/2 pint wide-lid mason jars for all your kids’ snacks. They are so durable and no plastic. -tip byYummy Supper

Another water-saving tip: share your shower with someone you love ( wink wink )! – tip by Yummy Supper

I like to save my jam jars and reuse them for handmade spice blends – makes for nice little gifts for friends and family. – tip by TC

You can re-use vanilla beans. After you have used the bean for purpose #1, you can dry it and reuse it to make yummy vanilla sugar or add to your favourite black tea! Yum Yum -tip by Lisa

One baking tip I have is that I often reuse parchment paper. Depending on what I’m baking on it, I can usually reuse several times before having to toss it out. I don’t worry about germs or anything because the oven heat takes care of it! -tip by Rcakewalk

One tip: I cook a lot of things that need a fine sieve (jelly, cheese, sauces, curd); instead of using several layers of cheesecloth each time, and throwing it away, I use butter muslin (which I get from New England Cheesemaking Supply It’s quite strong and you can use it again & again; after use I rinse it out in scalding hot water, then just throw it in the wash with the white load. My $6 package yielded several large squares, and has lasted me more than a year now and is still going strong.-tip by Kaela from local kitchen

8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2010 11:44 am

    I save the stems and ends of veggies that aren’t as ‘nice’ for eating (but not rotten, and still edible) and freeze them for making stew. After a few weeks of gathering what would have been unwanted ‘bits’, I have a bag full of great tasting things for a stew. Included in this mix: mushroom ends, herb stems, some broccoli stem, carrot peels, onion ends and dried layers, bits of pepper attached to the membrane, etc. etc.

    • May 13, 2010 1:39 pm

      Thats a great idea: I need to save my veggie bits for stews, or stocks, I don’t know why I haven’t done it! Thanks for the reminder!

      • May 13, 2010 8:07 pm

        I like this idea, too! I’ll probably save things intentionally this way now!

  2. May 13, 2010 2:09 pm

    Great ideas. I have to say I throw almost nothing away but new and interesting ideas are always welcome. Diane

    • May 17, 2010 9:20 pm

      I’m afraid I have a long way to go — sounds like you are doing much better. Its hard not to be a consumer in New York City!!

  3. sarah permalink
    May 14, 2010 6:35 am

    thank you everyone for such good ideas. i have to confess, although i do have other strengths!, that scraping out the last bit of lotion from a bottle, or cutting up old clothes to make rags etc. has never been a strong suit for me. But, these ideas have been quite inspiring and i’ve loved reading all the comments.

  4. Megan permalink
    May 14, 2010 9:25 am

    I love butter muslin! Love it!

    I also use jelly jars (the ring-top kind) as glasses, then clean well and sterilize when canning time rolls around. I purchased some new lids last year so that I can re-use the jars and rings indefinitely. When I give jams away, my nice friends frequently hold onto the jars for me.

    • May 17, 2010 9:24 pm

      ah, my friends give the jars back because i threaten them with bodily harm if they don’t! Either way its definiltey great to know you don’t have to keep using new jars for canning!

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