The Four Best Common Household Items To Repurpose And Reuse

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Our homes are constantly filled with empty containers, old clothes, unwanted mail and left over food, and often it seems there is nothing to do but throw it all away. Rather than sending an extra trash can full of unwanted stuff to the dump, consider repurposing some of these common household items into new, handy, usable objects you'll want to keep around the house.

Baby Food Jars

If you've ever had a baby in your home, you know how quickly these small, clear jars can build up. Rather than throwing them out, consider giving them a good scrub and a new life as helpful organizers, delicate candle holders, or even snow globes.

Organizer: Short and wide, these jars are easy to reach into, making them perfect for organizing paper clips, rubber bands, thumb tacks, nails and more. Keep a set on the kitchen counter, work bench or anywhere else you need a few small storage containers.

Candle Holder: Clear baby food jars are the perfect size and shape for tea lights. Place one of these small candles inside a clean jar (with any stickers removed) and place them throughout your house or garden for an instantly chic way to decorate with lighting. Depending on the exact size of the jar, larger candles may fit as well.

Snow Globes: Perfect for holiday home décor or a children's toy, baby food jars can easily be turned into homemade snow globes.

  • After cleaning out the jar, paint the lid a bright holiday color with acrylic paint.
  • Next, glue plastic or ceramic miniatures like pine trees, snowmen or Santa Claus to the inside of the lid, using a clear-drying epoxy. Avoid metal figurines, as they can begin to rust.
  • Fill the jar with distilled water, stopping just short of the top.
  • Add a small amount of glitter, then carefully, but tightly, screw on the lid, making sure not to dislodge the miniature as you lower them in.
  • Flip over the jar, and enjoy the snow!
Ready for Planting Finished Product


Whether you only receive the Sunday paper or daily deliveries, the newspapers can pile up on your driveway. Here are a few new ways to put that formerly wasted paper to work around your home.

Window Cleaner: Crumple up a single page of newspaper and use it to replace paper towels when cleaning your windows. Not only is the newspaper much more effective at cleaning, but it's more cost effective as well. Rather than wasting expensive paper towels, you'll be removing dirt and newspaper clutter.

Weed Killer: In your garden, lay down a layer of wet newspaper over the area where you want to plant. Cover the newspaper with a thick layer of mulch, then place your plant in the ground. Weeds can't penetrate the newspaper, keeping your new plant safe from harm.

Gifts: Rather than keeping a whole stack of newspapers, find issues printed on the birthdays of friends and family members. Give them the entire issue, or simply save the front page as a fun way to remember what happened on that day in history. This works especially well as a gift for new parents, who can share the birthday newspaper with their children when they're older.

Coffee Cans

If you make your own coffee at home, chances are you have several metal cans in your cupboards. Rather than throwing them away, consider giving them a quick wash and a new purpose.

Planters: Using acrylic paint, select a color that blends well with the colors in your backyard and use the coffee can as a bright, colorful planter. Whether you choose to scatter a few around the garden, or design rows of brightly shaded planters, coffee cans are a simple way to brighten up and organize your yard.

Organizers: For inside the home, consider painting empty coffee cans in shades that compliment your décor, and placing them on tables, desks and counters that need some organization. Use the cans to hold pens, pencils, remotes, cooking utensils and more.

Lanterns: Carefully cut small designs into the sides of your coffee cans, then paint them. Keeping the lid off, place a candle inside the cans, and set them around your garden or yard as an easy, homemade lantern. Just be sure to blow them out when you're done!

Junk Mail

Easily one of the most annoying sources of clutter in a home, junk mail doesn't have to go directly to the trash or recycling bin. Use these ideas to give your unwanted mail a reason to stick around.

Bedding: Many small pets like hamsters, gerbils, rats and mice require bags of expensive bedding that may need to be replaced often. Rather than taking a trip to the store for more, consider shredding junk mail and lining the bottom of your pet's cage with the scraps.

Scratch Paper: After you've collected a stack of junk mail envelopes, consider creating a pad of scratch paper to keep in the kitchen for grocery lists, or by the phone to quickly jot down notes.

  • Fold the stack of junk mail envelopes in half and cut along the crease.
  • Restack, and cut off all the edges but one. This edge will be where you place the staple.
  • Staple the stack of envelops along the remaining edge, and place the notepad where needed.

Packing: Keep a stack of junk mail if you plan on moving any time soon. Crumpled up envelopes, pamphlets and flyers make great packing material, and save money by replacing bubble wrap.

Keeping your home functional and free of clutter is easier than you think. It may be tempting to throw out old jars, cans and papers, but think twice before tossing what may be your next new gadget, decoration or gardening tool.

Last Updated: July 21, 2011
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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