Repurposing Items To New Life Before Throwing Away

by Texas Homesteader~ 

Here at our homestead we don’t use many disposable items. Paper towels were eliminated years ago and we simply use washable rags instead. Paper plates certainly have their uses and we use them from time to time when it makes sense. But even for a moderately-large gathering my preference is to use real dishes. 

I’ve written about how we’ve kept our landfill-bound trash down to a bare minimum with the elimination of most disposable goods and utilizing both composting and recycling.

But what about repurposing?  There are items that have lived past their current uses that can still be used for other purposes before they hit the trash.

What items can be repurposed from their original use before throwing away? Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteader

Glass Jars For Many Uses

Glass jars almost always receive a second life around the ranch, primarily the wide-mouth ones. There are many pantry uses for them of course. 

But the most beneficial second use for them for us is for storing leftovers. (I previously wrote about Using Glass In Our Refrigerator) Almost all of my leftovers are placed in the fridge in these glass jars.

Since they are see through we don’t fret over something delicious being moved further and further to the back of the fridge until it grows into a science experiment gone wrong! Since I didn’t have to buy the containers (they were saved for me by family members) I’ve saved money on both the storage as well as the food itself by not allowing it to go to waste.

Plastic Jars Are Helpful Too

Here’s another jar example, this time plastic jars. You see, RancherMan LOVES peanut butter.  And for us it almost always comes in a plastic screw-top jar. 

Once the last of the peanut butter has been scraped from the jar, then what?  

Well the label is removed and the jar is washed before it goes on to its second purpose. I use these handy peanut butter jars in the freezer to hold my own homemade broth.

Since making broth is ridiculously easy, inexpensive and healthier I try to have my own broth handy at all times. After making my broth I simply allow it to cool, skim the fat and pour the cooled broth into these jars (leaving proper freezing expansion head space). Then I label the top of the jar with duct tape and a sharpie & pop it into the freezer.

Although I’m not a big fan of plastic, I’ve never been successful storing glass in the freezer. So until a better option presents itself this still saves me tons of money on broth.

Food in Repurposed Plastic Jars For Freezer. What items can be repurposed from their original use before throwing away? Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteader

More Freezer Storage Repurposing Use For Plastic Jars

I also use these handy plastic peanut-butter jars to freeze homemade Ranch-Style Beans after I’ve cooked a big pot of them. When I’m ready to use them I just pull them out of the freezer and place in the fridge the night before I need them. They thaw overnight.

That way delicious and homemade food is ready to pour into a microwave-safe container, heat and complete my meal in a hurry. And there’s precious little landfill fodder leaving this house because of this repurposing step.

After they’ve served their time as a peanut butter container and then a freezer container there’s yet another use for them. 

My city-raised grandbabies love to catch bugs with them. I had Rancher-Man drill holes in the top of different colored lids and I scrolled each grandbaby’s name on a lid  with a permanent marker.

Now they have non-breakable containers to catch ladybugs. It’s guaranteed to provide hours of country fun for them. 

I’m always surprised at the things kids latch onto sometimes but this is always the first thing they reach for when they visit. What a fun repurposing item!

And they spend hours running around making their own ladybug playland. Since they all have their names on their own jar there’s no hard feelings that one of their cousins has the wrong jar. This is by far my favorite use for these jars!

Plastic Jars = Bug Catchers For Kids. What items can be repurposed from their original use before throwing away? Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteaderRepurposing Cotton Scraps For Cleaning

And lastly let’s talk about socks. Working on a ranch we are pretty hard on socks and go through them pretty fast. What to do with them when they are no longer useful for socks? 

This one is easy: After a too-far-gone sock is clean I cut it into a large square and use it for various other cleaning tasks.

I’ll cut off the toe and heel and split the remaining band in half for a square-ish piece of  very absorbent terrycloth fabric that can be used to clean, oftentimes in the place of paper towels. We just throw them in the regular wash and reuse them for quite a while.

Cleaning Rags from Holey Socks. What items can be repurposed from their original use before throwing away? Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteader

When these rags have put in hard labor with repurposing as cleaning cloths and become overly stained I shift them to garage duty for their final use. 

There RancherMan uses them with his grease gun or to wipe down something incredibly grimy.  They finally hit the trash after he’s through with them. 

That’s quite a few extra repurposing uses for a simple sock!

What do you like to repurpose before it hits the trash?


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66 thoughts on “Repurposing Items To New Life Before Throwing Away

  1. Carole Garrett

    I was born and raised in East Texas and had farm/ranch experience before moving to San Diego over fifty years ago. I have been doing nearly all of the suggestions that others are doing. Yes, you can live like you are in the country when you live in the city. My peanut butter jars hold nut, bolts, nails, etc. for my home projects and in my sewing room, bobbins, bits of ribbon, buttons, etc. for sewing. I compost, use virtually no paper products or plastic. On my fridge is a sign that reads: Please do not discard anything which may be reused, recycled, or composted. I THANK YOU, MOTHER EARTH THANKS YOU.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      YES! Plastic jars have many uses Carole, as you’ve mentioned. From food storage to garage organization to craft organiztion. Sounds like you’ve really put them all to good use – Love it!! ~TMH~

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  4. Donna Reidland

    I suppose there’s a little bit of hoarder in me, but there are so many things I hate to throw away. It’s nice to see your suggestions for using some of them. Have a great week in the Lord!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve always thought there was a fine line between saving/repurposing things and hording, Donna. I save those plastic peanut butter jars for several uses but as I get more I rotate through the older ones & get them to the recycle bin so I don’t have too many. Same thing with the plastic bags – if I get more than I can use I’ll send them to the recycle bin. But sometimes I’ll go to grab one of the repurposed bags to put leftovers in the freezer or something and realize I have more than enough so I need to stop saving them for awhile. LOL ~TMH~

  5. Elaine

    This is a great post and was the Most Viewed last week and will be featured!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday!! Pinned!

  6. daisy

    We also use “bug jars” with our old plastic containers. We also give away caterpillars on CL, so for folks who forget to bring a jar, we always have some handy.
    I just posted about our homemade room A/C unit, made from mostly repurposed items.

  7. Judith c

    When using jars for the freezer, stop filling when the contents are about an inch and a half from the shoulder (the inward curve) of the jar. When good freezes it expands and moves up the inside of the jar. The top is one of the places it freezes first. When that top reaches the shoulder it can’t bend or reposition to make the curve so the pressure breaks the glass. You can also buy FREEZER jars. They come in one and a half pint size and down. I don’t trust ANY plastic!! Heated or frozen. Plastics are a by products of petro chemicals. Would you put motor oil or gasoline on your food?

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I use all those tips already when freezing Judith, but my freezer is a big chest freezer – it’s just not worth it to me to be looking through the freezer and have the wrong ‘clink’ send glass slivers cascading through my frozen meats & veggies. Although I shun plastic coming into the house like a ninja – passing by the shrink-wrapped produce for the bulk bins even if it’s more expensive, making my own homemade bread when possible, making sun tea in glass jars instead of consuming colas sold in plastic bottles, etc. I’ve resigned myself that plastic is a part of our lives. Milk is sold in plastic jugs, frozen foods are sold in plastic bags, toothbrushes are made of plastic (even though I’ve tried the bamboo ones). I make sure to use the plastic that comes into our home fully before throwing it in the trash or the recycle bin and plastic peanut butter jars are the perfect solution for my freezer dilemma in our household. The jars are periodically rotated to the recycle bin when they’ve done double duty and replaced with fresh jars as they become available. I’m careful to use only #1 plastic in the freezer and I never heat food in any kind of plastic. I guess it’s all about moderation and what works best in each family’s household for their specific circumstances. ~TMH~

  8. urbanoveralls

    Love the post. We also reuse materials before they are recycled. Glass jars are my favorite. We like to use them to send leftovers home with dinner guests in addition to using them as storage.

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  11. Shelle @ PreparednessMama

    Great ideas in this post! My husband loves queso dip and it comes in a great sized glass jar. I use them for storing leftovers and herbs. Sometimes I even re-paint the tops with spray paint and make them pretty! Thanks for posting on Front Porch Friday.

  12. Vickie

    Great post! I have been using my plastic peanut butter jars to hold my dried beans and homemade pasta! I haven’t had any problems storing glass jars in the freezer, but I do like the idea of storing broth in the plastic jars also! Thanks for all these great tips.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Vickie, I wonder if my glass failures are because I have a large chest freezer, just so much more jostling around? Many folks don’t have any difficulties freezing in glass but I sure do! ~TMR~

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  14. Heather

    I always wash out our glass jars to house leftovers & such. One currently has lacto-fermented garlic inside 🙂 I never thought to use the plastic ones, though. Great idea on using them to store broth! I can definitely get on board with that!!

  15. Karen

    This is a great post! I reuse glass jars over and over for lots of things (I had a post about that last month). I love having them around.
    I’m not too fond of plastic, but haven’t found a substitute for zip-top bags. I always wash these out and reuse them, unless they have had raw meat in them. They get used until they spring a leak or get torn up.
    I love your sock idea! With 9 people in our house, socks are always a not-so-exciting part of laundry, and we are forever with spare socks. Thanks for your great tips. I know what to do with those lonely ones now.
    Thanks for sharing at Wake Up Wednesday!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Sounds like we’re on the same page Karen. I’d love to find a substitute for zip-top bags but I use them like you do – over & over until they spring a leak or if they’ve held meat. ~TMR~

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  17. CTY

    Just found your site & am very excited about it.
    Oh–what to repurpose next. Socks have so many uses around here. A few favorites–tie into a chain & use a dog tug rags; tie garden plants to trellises (& those used ones will become garden weed barrier thanks to the post above); tie up a coiled ext cord when storing, they untie & retie easily too; use mitt style with warm water & a tiny bit of tree tea oil to clean pet ears; mitt style for dassh boards, “floss” between house radiator, freezer coils & the like; fill with stones for weighing down tarps; place thin pantyhose over vacuum when vacuuming blindly or looking for something small.
    But my new fav thing to re purpose are dog food bags into totes. Cut a 2″ strip from the top, fold the bag in on itself & duct tape a bottom seam, use the strip to make a handle, secure handle by using nut, bolts & washer (to prevent pull through)–when the bag is worn be sure to salvage the hardware. My main use is for food shopping bags but I use them to tote just about anything, they especially good for wet things.
    Thanx for listening.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Food shopping bags from dog food bags? Aren’t you clever! It just goes to show ya that if you put your mind to it there are LOTS of places to repurpose things that are both functional and fun! ~TMR~

  18. Alison Bayne

    Great ideas, as always! Thanks for linking up at the Creative Home and Garden Hop with such a useful, practical post. See you again this week, I hope, at

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  20. Nancy W

    Wonderful article on repurposing! I use old athletic socks as a cover on bottles of oil. I cut off just the cuff and slip it ver the bottle. Keeps the bottle from getting oily! Thanks so much for sharing on the HomeAcre Hop!
    Nancy The Home Acre Hop

  21. Riversana

    I think one of the best tips I ever found was to save all the odds and ends and peelings of the fresh vegetables I use into a gallon size freezer bag and freeze them. When the bag is full I dump half into the crockpot, cover with water, and cook it until I have time to strain it out. The solids go into the compost, the veggie broth is labeled and stored. Hubbs came home last night and said “mm, something smells really good, babe!” and I had to laugh as it was just the latest pot of broth, not supper itself! I recently lost several glass jars to the freezer, so I’ll be saving the PB jars for broth as well! After that, they head to Hubb’s shop for collecting small bits and things.

  22. suzie

    take your glass jars that have metal lids and spray paint the outside only and screw a small drawer pull into lid and you have a pretty canister that you can use for cookies, etc on your kitchen counter or anywhere in your home

  23. Laurel

    I save cracker wrappers, cereal wrappers and the like to rewrap small bits of food (same for the celery rubber band) or a sandwich. the wrappers also come in handy to put in my container for home made bread as it keeps it fresher for another day or two longer.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Laurel, great idea, cereal wrappers are so sturdy and perfect for this use – love it. I’ve also found those wide rubber bands from produce work great to get a stuck jar lid loose, simply slip it around the perimeter of the lid and it gives that little ‘uumph’ you need to grip & turn! ~TMR~

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I agree Holly, there’s easy, inexpensive things we can all do if we just stop & give it a little thought. And we can learn from each other as well – things that perhaps we had never thought of before. ~TMR~

  24. daisy

    Love the idea of using the wide-mouth jars for leftovers. We buy Corning Ware and Pyrex at thrift stores for the same thing.

    I have two large plastic coffee containers (found in neighbors’ recycle bins). One is used for coffee grounds and eggshells and the other is kept in our freezer as a makeshift compost bucket. Both are emptied into the garden when full.

    1. CTY

      Daisy–love the idea of freezing the compost items until they can be walked out the the pile. The freezing will also expedite the breakdown–genius!

  25. Terri

    I LOVE the glass jars (wide mouth especially) for leftovers. I’ve managed to reduce our food waste to about 1% with this simple trick.

  26. Kalamity Kelli

    I love your ideas for peanut butter jars – I have a thing about repurposing plastic containers! My favorite thing to repurpose is my husband’s coffee containers – he drinks lots and lots of coffee and those wonderful containers just need a little help to look beautiful and then organize your kitchen, your child’s room, a teacher’s room – the bathroom – gosh, just about anything!

  27. Linda @ A La Carte

    I always take my jars to recycle but I like the idea of them holding leftovers. I really like the idea of the plastic pb jars with broth in them. Great idea! I think you have so many great ideas for reusing items. Thanks for sharing this at TTF this week.


  28. Lani

    Reusing stuff is a definite must in this day and age! We recycle all our old clothes while they’re still in good nick by donating them to charity, same too with books and any household stuff. In general, we just try not to buy a lot of things and we plan our weekly meals carefully so there’s no wastage and things thrown out.

    My best recycling tip is using my kids’ drawings as wrapping paper – makes the most gorgeous and unique gift wrapping!

  29. Candy C.

    Great ideas! I like to repurpose glass jars from the store too but I never thought about the peanut butter jars. I really like the bug catchers you made for the grandkids! 🙂

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Thanks Candy. It’s so funny that when the grandbabies get together at the ranch the first thing they all four run for are these jars! They’ve kept them entertained for more hours than I can count. ~TMR~

  30. Elizabeth

    You can actually get one more use out of those socks! You can use them as weed barriers! I use holey socks as cleaning cloths and dust rags. I have arthritis in my thumbs so it makes it hard to hold a cleaning cloth. Solution? Turn the sock inside out (so the terry cloth is in contact with the surface to be cleaned) and poke my hand in! Ta-Da! Anyway, after they get all gross from repeated cleaning use and washing I cut them so that they’re a flatish square and cut out a small hole in the middle, place it on the ground, then plant seeds in the hole! I’ve done this with my tomatoes for several years (holey t-shirts work well too) and it works beautifully!! By the next growing season they’re mostly decomposed!

  31. Shari

    I’ve used my left over peanut butter jars to hold different kinds of markers and colored pencils for crafts. I was thinking with your grandchildren this might come in handy.

  32. Pat

    great post!
    I like to save and use jars again and again.
    I currently have in my freezer…chopped peppers, onion and tomatoes. I buy this produce at the grocer, usually in the “IFFY” basket. I bring it home and right away, wash , chop and freeze on cookie sheets. Once frozen…I scrape them loosely into the jar and put them in the freezer. Freezing them on the cookie sheet lets me sprinkle just the right amount of peppers or onions into my dish. (just be careful not to leave them out of the freezer too long, or when they are replaced…they’ll clump up again)
    I hadn’t thought of using the plastic ones for broth. But again…great idea.
    Like you… I also try to get much mileage out of socks and T-shirts.
    I like to cut the t-shirts in such a way, that it makes one long strand and I can crochet a rug or pot holders with it.
    Love chatting about these things with others who are also trying to live frugal and deliberate, when it comes to waste!
    have a great week ahead!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve heard of rag rugs and would love to try one sometime with strips of t-shirt material. Lightweight enough to throw in the washer when needed. OOOHHH – I’ve just got to give it a try. Thanks for the push. ~TMR~


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