Homesteaders love to be resourceful, and there’s no better way to be resourceful than to reuse everything.
The saying, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” should be, “Your trash is still your treasure!”
It’s possible to reuse everything, including waste, around the homestead.
Leftover food, empty containers, and paper are some examples of items people tend to toss that have at least a second life in them.
You should only toss something in the garbage once it is clear there is no other way to reuse it.
Look through this list of waste to learn different ways to reuse everything.
One of the most common things people throw away is food. After mealtimes, people will dump what is left on their plates in the trash. Food should never be thrown out! You can put it in the compost pile or feed it to your animals.
- Leftover Food: Find ways to reuse ingredients for different meals, such as using leftover mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes the next day. Store leftover food in the freezer for meals later. If you are left with just scraps, then food waste should go in your compost pile. It will make your compost fertilizer even better. If it is safe, give the leftover food to your animals.
- Eggshells: Eggshells have a versatile afterlife. You can add them to chicken feed or to your own coffee before brewing. You can add them to the soil to help your houseplants. You can put them in your garden to keep pests away.
- Coffee Grounds: Used coffee grounds have many other uses. Add them to your compost pile or worm farm. You can even use coffee grounds to clean and reduce odors. Check out 13 Ways to Use Coffee Grounds on the Homestead.
- Peels: While you don’t eat peels, you shouldn’t toss them either. For example, banana peels are good for chicken feed. Citrus peels can be used to add flavor and infuse teas, as well as add scents to home cleaning products. Lemon peels can be added to brown sugar to keep it from clumping.
- Animal Bones: Don’t toss animal bones or give them to your dog. Reuse them! You can use animal bones to make stock and broth.
Egg Cartons, Toilet Paper Rolls, and Paper Towel Rolls
Reuse everything – including what most people would consider trash. Egg cartons, empty toilet paper rolls, and used paper towel rolls have many other uses.
You can use these items as seed starters because they allow for good drainage and are biodegradable.
Cut the toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls into sections and use these as plant protectors around seedlings.
Stuff these with dryer lint, and you have an awesome fire starter.
Use the empty rolls to store plastic grocery bags. They’ll take up much less space, and you can take them with you wherever you go.
Other Uses for Cardboard
You can reuse everything involving cardboard – you just have to think outside the box.
- Cereal Boxes: Once the cereal is gone and the box is empty, cut the sides to make one-time-use funnels. There are also several DIY projects using cereal boxes, such as DIY magazine holders.
- Packing Boxes: There is always a use for a packing box. Before you recycle it, see if it has another use in your home, such as storing seasonal items. You can also use the cardboard from packing boxes around your garden. Add shredded cardboard to your compost pile. Lay larger pieces of cardboard in your garden in weed-prone areas, wet, and top with mulch or soil to cut down on weed growth.
Reuse everything – especially paper products! Paper products should be recycled but see if you can reuse them on your homestead first.
- Packing Paper: You can use packing paper to weave baskets or tote bags – or for future packing purposes.
- Old Magazines: There are tons of DIY products involving old magazines, such as making bowls and paper furniture.
- Newspaper: Use it as wrapping paper or mulch for your garden. You can also add it to your compost pile.
- Paper: Shred paper and use it for chicken bedding. You can also use it as a fire starter. Gardeners sometimes put paper at the bottom of their pea or bean trenches to retain water and moisture.
Plastic Bottles and Plastic Food Containers
Plastics are difficult to recycle, so it is important to try to look for ways to reuse them. The good news is that you can reuse everything – including plastic bottles and plastic food containers.
Ultimately, how you reuse the item depends on the size and shape.
You can use plastic grocery bags to crochet blankets and tote bags.
You can reuse plastic food containers, such as peanut butter jars, to store homemade broth in the freezer.
You can use plastic bottles as a means to water plants, such as drilling holes in the sides and placing the filled water bottles upside down at the base of a plant for slow watering.
You can cut a plastic milk jug into a feed scoop. You can cut the top off, fill it with water, and freeze it to make a large block of ice.
Plastic food containers, such as butter, cream cheese, and yogurt containers, work great for storing odds and ends around the homestead.
Related Read: 10 Uses for Empty Pill Bottles
Glass jars are versatile and shouldn’t be tossed unless they have been used until they break. This includes glass food jars, such as spaghetti sauce jars and baby food jars.
Use baby food jars to store homemade spice blends.
Use mason jars not just for canning but also for drinking glasses and vases.
Use glass jars with lids to store food items separately, such as beans, rice, and dried fruit.
You can also use glass jars to store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Just because you’ve used the food inside the tin can, doesn’t mean the tin can’s job is over.
Beyond using cleaned tin cans to store items such as nails, there are many DIY projects that use tin cans. Tin cans can be painted and decorated to become unique planters or even candle holders.
Never throw away clothes. Consider donating them if you must get rid of them. But before you donate them, think about whether you can use them in any of the following ways.
- Use socks for kitchen rags or dusting.
- Use the elastic top of socks like a type of rubber band to contain items.
- Upcycle jeans or denim into baskets or totes.
- Cut old clothes and use the fabrics to turn them into new clothing, quilt squares, or doll clothing.
Related Read: 6 Items You Should Be Buying at the Thrift Store
If you have livestock on your homestead, you have empty feed bags. Instead of throwing them away, reuse them.
You can reuse them as trash bags.
You can use them as small tarps to block the wind from your chicken coop.
Many people are also discovering ways to repurpose them to sell, such as DIY tote bags.
Pallets have so many uses around the homestead.
If you have any projects that require wood, look towards those empty pallets you have piled up.
Need a chicken coop? Use a wood pallet. Need a side table? Use a wood pallet. Need a pantry organizer? Use a wood pallet.
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