Chances are pretty good you’re already thrifty. Maybe you compost your kitchen scraps and save newspapers and rags. However, there are many items you may take for granted as trash that you should be stockpiling and using now to save money around the house and to help you make your household more self-sufficient. Here are some great ideas:
1. Rubber bands and twist ties
Ok, this one is a bit obvious, but if you haven’t started saving rubber bands and twist ties, now is the time to start. To collect rubber bands, wrap them around a small rubber ball or make a ball out of several rubber bands to begin. This will keep your rubber bands tidy and easy to find when you need them.
2. Two-liter soda bottles and gallon jugs
Use these bottles and jugs with tight-fitting lids to store water. Using a permanent marker, write the date on the bottles. Refill water every 4-6 months, keeping a fresh store on hand in case of emergencies. Store enough water for every household member for at least seven days. Or, use it as a garden irrigation system. Prick holes in it and place it beside a plant. Then, pour water in it and the roots will get the water they need, without any waste.
3. Peanut butter jars
These jars are excellent for pantry use because of their hard plastic and tight-fitting screw-on lids. Rinse thoroughly and use to store all manner of dry goods.
Using masking tape and a marker, label the jars with contents and date.
4. Foil butter wrapping
After the butter is used up, save the foil packaging for greasing pans. Reuse several foil butter wrappers to top a roast or ham while cooking to preserve moisture and add browning. This won’t work with paper butter wrappers, but save those ones too, as they make excellent fire-starters.
5. Bacon fat
What a wealth of flavor and texture is being lost if you dispose of bacon drippings after cooking! Instead, strain the bacon fat through a fine sieve into a mason jar, and keep it in cold storage with a lid screwed on tightly. Use it in baking biscuits, pancakes, corn bread and savory pastry such as pie shells for quiche — once you try bacon fat, you’ll never go back to using butter for these.
6. Old CDs
Old CDs are a real pain; they’re difficult to recycle, and becoming more and more useless all the time. There are many decorative projects you can do with old CDs, but if you want to make something useful try hanging them in your garden to deter pests. Using fine thread and three dowels or sticks, build a stand and suspend a CD above your bean, tomato, strawberry or squash plants. Birds and small furry pests will avoid the spinning reflector, helping you get a greater yield from your plants.
7. Toilet paper tubes
Toilet paper tubes and other cardboard tubes should be saved for a multitude of uses. One of the best will save you time and trouble in the garden. Fold one end and fill them with a bit of topsoil to create seed-starters.
When the seeds sprout, transplant to the garden by carefully unfolding the bottom to release the root ball and soil into a hole dug to the appropriate depth.
8. Dryer lint
Dryer lint may seem like one of the most useless things around the house. Start saving it now to make excellent fire-starters. Collect a ball of lint, and soak it in a bit of grease or oil. Wrap it in used newspaper, cardboard or paper and twist the ends to seal. Place one or two of these beneath kindling when building a fire, light the end and watch them burn.
9. Baby food jars
These small glass jars are the perfect size for collecting screws, nails, nuts, washers and other odds and ends in the workshop. Mount jar lids to plywood which in turn is mounted to the wall or workbench for easy access to small fixtures. Label the bottom of jars, sort findings, and screw jars into lids to keep everything close at hand and organized.
10. Silica gel
You know those little packets that come in shoeboxes and leather bags? Their purpose is to protect products from moisture, and you can capitalize on that. Save those packets now, and put them in the drawers of your toolbox, sewing kit, tackle box, and anywhere else where equipment could suffer from rust. The silica gel will absorb moisture and protect your tools.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to start thinking of creative ways to live self-sufficiently, use your trash for good, and solve household problems with items on hand.
Do you have a trick that you want to share? Add it in the comments!