Going Green: 20 Creative Ways to Reuse, Repurpose, Reclaim, and Refurbish Household Items

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Going green begins with three easy steps. Step 1:  Reduce, Step 2: Reuse, and Step 3: Recycle. These three steps can be completed separately or used interchangeably. However, if we reduce and reuse, we have less to recycle. We've already talked about ways that we can reduce, now we are ready to explore ways in which we can reuse.

There are many different ways that we can reuse items that have served their original purpose in our lives. Not only can we reuse these items, but we can also repurpose, reclaim, and refurbish these items!

20 Ways to Reuse, Repurpose, Reclaim, and Refurbish Household Items


  • Bring paper and plastic bags with you to the store to use again.
  • Reuse boxes and shipping materials to package gifts or to ship items.
  • Reuse paper as scratch paper. Always write on both sides. Set your printer to print on both sides.
  • Rinse plastic storage bags with soapy water and use them again(turn them inside out to rinse and let them dry inside out).
  • Save rainwater and the water from kids' swimming pools to water your garden and lawn.
  • Shop at thrift stores and yard sales to buy gently used clothing, furniture and various accessories.
  • Buy used books (if not using an e-Reader)
  • Keep your handsoap dispenser and refill it when it is empty.


  • Save pasta sauce, jelly, pickle and olive jars (and their lids) to use them to store sugar, flour, pasta, leftover soups, stews, pasta meals, etc.
  • Use paper from packaging as wrapping paper by decorating it with handmade art, embellishing it with sequins and other craft items.
  • Save tin cans to use as planters for kitchen herbs and/or other smalls plants or to store screws, nails, nuts, bolts, etc. in the workshop or garage.
  • Save packaging and boxes to reuse as craft items and toys (like this time machine built by a nine year old boy after watching Back to the Future).
  • Don't throw out your children's stained and/or outgrown clothing. Jeans and sweats can be made into cutoff shorts. Shirts can be set aside to be used as painting smocks and clothing to get dirty in when doing household chores.
  • Encourage your children to repurpose shampoo, conditioner, and bubble bath containers as bath toys.


  • When doing home improvement projects, go to a building materials salvage yard to reclaim needed materials. Habitat for Humanity has hundreds of ReStores across the country that specialize in building materials and appliances that have been salvaged from homes that have been remodeled and/or rebuilt.
  • Use wood from old barns, mills, and houses as flooring, trim, furniture, etc.
  • Use broken pieces of concrete in a similar fashion as flagstone for pathways.


  • Use environmentally friendly products to strip and stain furniture that has been scratched or damaged.
  • Update outdated furniture and kitchen cabinets by upgrading the hardware (knobs, drawer pulls, hinges, etc.)
  • Use slipcovers to enliven sofas and chairs.

In addition to the above ideas, if you are crafty, artistic, creative, and imaginative, reusable items can be turned into works of art, unique furnishings and accessories. Next week, we will dive into Step: 3. Recycling.

What items in your house have you reused, repurposed, reclaimed, and refurbished?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Tracey Lenac is the founder, editor and publisher of Raising California, an online magazine that highlights elements of holistic, organic, GREEN lifestyle choices along with homeschooling and spirituality.   She is also the founder of Soul Centered Kids in Los Angeles, California, where she teaches soul centered skills such as meditation, reiki and yoga to children of all ages and developmental abilities and the founder of The Souls of Boys, an online store specializing in non violent, non toxic, soul centered toys, books, media and resources for boys.  Tracey has a Master of Arts degree in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is also a registered Reiki Master/Teacher, organic gardener, the mom of two boys and a secular homeschooler.

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