How To Repurpose Items To New Life Instead Of Throwing Away

by Texas Homesteader ~  

My eco-friendly self loves to repurpose items from their original use to fill yet another need. It extends the time it takes to throw something away, and it often eliminates the need to buy what you’d repurposed it for.

Below are simple ways we’ve repurposed containers such as glass or plastic, holy socks, old blue jeans and more!

Simple Zero-Waste Step: Reduce Disposables

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. 

Real plates and flatware is a great zero-waste step. #TexasHomesteader

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.

Ways To Repurpose Glass Jars

Glass jars almost always receive a second life around the Homestead. Especially the wide-mouth ones.

      • Glass Jars For Holding Bulk Food

      • Protecting Food From Pantry Pests

      • Storing Leftovers In The Refrigerator

Repurposed glass jars in the pantry. Repurposing items from their original use before throwing away. Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteader

But one of the most beneficial second uses for glass jars for us is for storing leftovers.

If you haven’t already read it, I encourage you to read my informative post about Using Glass In Our Refrigerator. There are many benefits besides the obvious repurposing benefit.

These days almost all of my leftovers are placed in the fridge in these glass jars.

Repurposed glass jars in the refrigerator. Repurposing items from their original use before throwing away. Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteader

Since you can see through the jars that food’s not forgotten. 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! 

Plastic Jars Are Helpful Too

Here’s another jar repurpose example, this time plastic jars.

  • Freezing Food

When peanut butter jars are empty I use thems in the freezer to hold my own homemade broth or Ranch-Style Beans.

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

Although I’m not a big fan of plastic, I’ve never been successful storing food in glass in the freezer. 

  • Repurposed Jars For Cute Homemade Christmas Gifts

We were looking for a festive (yet edible) gift for our grandchildren. So we considered many different empty plastic jars.

In the end we used the jumbo-sized peanut butter jars. They were perfect for our Snowman Treat Jars we made for them.

A repurposed oversized peanut butter jar made a cute snowman treat jar for our grandchildren. #TexasHomesteader

We simply whipped up some Christmas Trail Mix to go inside and decorated with a repurposed strip of flannel.

They turned out super cute and the grandkids loved them! Yet they cost almost nothing to make.

  • Repurposed Jar Bug Catchers For The Grandkids

Here’s another repurpose for regular-sized empty peanut butter jars. Our younger grandbabies love to catch ladybugs with them.

I had Rancher-Man drill holes in the tops of different colored lids. Then I printed each grandchild’s name on a lid  with a permanent marker. This is by far my favorite use for these jars!

When they come to grandpa & grandma’s house, guess what ‘toy’ they grab first? Yep, they love 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. #TexasHomesteader

  • Repurposing Plastic Jars For Watering

I stand firm on watering plants outside with only Captured Rainwater. But when the rain taps run dry I need to go into water conservation mode.

I take wide-mouth plastic bottles and have RancherMan drill small holes in the lid. Then I fill them from my rain barrel and turn them upside down at the plant’s base. Gravity causes that water to drip slowly instead of just running off.

Repurposed plastic bottle to deep-soak water potted plants. Repurposing items from their original use before throwing away. Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteader

I do the same thing in a larger scale in my vegetable garden. Only this time I’m using those handy coffee canisters that I seem to always be accumulating.

Repurposing Coffee Canisters

I’ve written about the many Different Ways To Use Coffee Canisters. But this repurpose tip really helps conserve water in the garden.

Repurposed coffee can to water garden. Repurposing items from their original use before throwing away. Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteader

I simply fill the coffee can with rainwater, snap the lid back on and flip it on its top at the base of my plant.

The water drips slowly from those holes and waters the plant deeply and thoroughly without wasting water with runoff. 

Repurposing a Parmesan Cheese Lid

This is one of my most popular tips! Although not all brands use the same lid, my sister offered me her Empty Parmesan Cheese Containers. I use the lids on regular-mouth canning jars. It has a shaker side and a spoon-measuring side.

SO perfect for RancherMan’s BBQ Rub Seasoning!

Repurposed parmesan cheese lid. Repurposing items from their original use before throwing away. Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteader

I also have these same handy lids on my jars of baking soda (one for cooking AND one for cleaning) and more.

They’re so handy, and they’re FREE because they’re repurposed from an empty jar that was just destined for the recycling bin. (or the TRASH!)

Repurposing Holey Socks

What to do with holey socks when they are no longer useful as socks? Oh there are so many uses, y’all.

There are many repurpose uses for a holey sock. #TexasHomesteader

  • Repurposed Sock For Cleaning Rags

The very first holey sock repurpose is going to be for cleaning.

I’ll cut off the elastic, toe and heel and split the remaining band in half for a square-ish piece of very absorbent fabric that can be used to clean.

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 are too far gone for cleaning I send them to the shop. 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. 

  • Repurposed Sock For Hair Tie

And how about this – I even use the elastic band for a hair tie. That’s quite a few extra repurposing uses for a simple sock!

Sock elastic for ponytail holder. Repurposing items from their original use before throwing away. Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteader

  • Repurposed Sock To Make A Impromptu Paintbrush

Heck in a pinch, I’ve even used a clothespin and a piece of that terrycloth from a sock-rag and made a craft paintbrush

Repurposed terrycloth from old sock can be rolled and clipped with a clothespin to make a craft paintbrush. #TexasHomesteader

Use Whatcha Got, y’all. #UseWhatchaGot!

Repurposing Denim

I’ve shared with you Different Ways To Repurpose Denim including:

My favorite denim repurpose is a cute Dish Carrier so I can take my own leftover’s dish into a restaurant instead of using those blasted styrofoam clamshells to bring home leftovers.

I love the way it turned out! I’m constantly getting compliments on it.

Repurposing denim into cute dish carrier. Repurposing items from their original use before throwing away. Read what we do with glass and plastic jars and holey socks. #TexasHomesteader

See what I mean? There are many ways to repurpose things that are no longer fit for their original purpose. And those repurposes fill another need for you too.

What’s your favorite repurposing tip before something hits the trash?


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31 thoughts on “How To Repurpose Items To New Life Instead Of 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.

  2. 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 ~TxH~

  3. 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.

  4. 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. ~TxH~

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Jennifer

    That’s genius! I get so annoyed by oily bottles and shelves! Thanks for sharing!! So simple!

  9. 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!!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. Holly Giles

    Love the ladybug jars! Thanks for reminding us to re-use! So much you can do! Holly

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.


  20. 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!

  21. 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! 🙂

  22. Lynn@Southern Direction

    I’m a jar saver too. I also save every plastic container such as butter bowls. They always come in handy. Why waste what you can use.

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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. ~TxH~


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