Inspired by the Women With Attitude Festivities Team.
These hints were collected by the team for the 2001
Earth Day Celebration


Save empty butter tubs and other containers for storing leftovers.
Editor's note: They are also great for freezing food in portion sizes, providing it's not meant to stay in your freezer for too long. 
Caveat: Do not use to reheat food in the microwave, the plastic wasn't meant to take high heat and bits might melt into your food. 

Reuse plastic bags from the grocery store to use in your smaller garbage cans around the house.

Try to reuse plastic ware at work.  Or even better is to bring in a spare set of utensils from home as well as the coffee mug.

When eating in a cafeteria, wipe your plastic ware with your napkin and slip into your purse.

Carry your own chopsticks.  You know where they've been :)  Also, most oriental places nowadays have those tiny, cheapo breakaway chopsticks and they're no fun to use.

Use a re-useable lunch bag or lunch box to take your lunch, as well as using plastic sandwich boxes instead of plastic bags.

Use plastic lids from Coffee cans, sour cream etc. to cut your own stencils for painting.

Take plastic bottles for soda (2 litres size) fill them with colored water, add marbles, replace the lids (screw on tight). 6-8 is good in a group;
you can tie them together with just about anything and top with a piece of plexi-glass.  Makes a great coffee- or end-table.

Reuse empty plastic bottles by cutting them in half, fill one half with soil and plant seedlings, fit the other half back over the top and you have a mini greenhouse.

Plastic bags tied around stakes can keep young seedlings safe from frost and pests. Later on you can tie just one end to the stake and in the wind it will act as a 'scarecrow' to keep birds away.

Cut a plastic bottle out in the shape of a scoop for laundry detergent, powders, flour etc. 
Cuts from bigger ones (e.g., sturdy bleach bottles) can be nailed to the end of a stick and used as a 'pooper-scooper'

Empty bread sacks: Shake out all of the crumbs. Store them rolled up (perhaps in a large mug).  They often come in real handy.

Don't discard the plastic bags pre-cut salad greens come in. They're real sturdy and stand up to several re-uses for all kinds of things.

Reuse glass jars to hold bolts, screws, loose change, pens, and other household items.

Use jars  in candle making.

Since they come in so many different sizes, they make great containers for leftovers in your fridge. No mystery ... one look and you know what you've got. No matter what you store in them, unlike plastic containers, there's never any lingering food smell. Some foods (especially dishes containing raw onion) might take a double-layer of clingfilm under the lid (doubly secured with a rubber band) to keep even the most intrusive food-smells inside the jar.

Use larger jars for decorative containers, either paint the lids or wrap them in tinfoil, over that perhaps a layer or two of coloured clingfilm, or hotglue on a pretty fabric scrap. Store your beans, lentils and other such goods in them (you can even paint or glue on designs to match your kitchen decor).

For gift-giving, fill a jar with home-made goodies (cookies, baking mixes, etc.), decorate the lid (or even the whole jar) to suit the occasion, then tie a pretty bow right under the lid.

Some jars even make great vases. You can decorate with ribbon or paint.

In a pinch, one of your medium-sizd or smaller jars will come in handy as a drinking glass.

For the non-vegetarians among us:  Another use for glass jars is to hold grease from meat after cooking.

Another gift idea:  Save wine bottles, soak off labels.  Layer different colored beans and lentils making it a rainbow of colors.
Tie raffia around the neck and give it as a housewarming gift (include recipe cards). 
Editor's note: Also great for home-made vinegars.

Boxes that used to hold  liquor bottles with the separators still in them are great for storing shoes instead of buying plastic shoe trees
(you can use Contact Paper
(TM) to match them to you decor).

If you have access to those sturdy, lidded cartons that copy paper is delivered in:  Use instead of purchasing expensive storage boxes.  Decorate the visible parts with either leftover wall- or wrapping-paper or even fabric (white glue works marvelous), or splurge on a roll of Contact Paper. Instant storage, even furniture (I've used them for coffee tables, end tables and nightstands before).

Reuse the onion net bag -- wash it real good and use as a garment washing bag in the washer for hose, socks or whatever.

Use the bubble wrap that comes in packages to add texture to walls when painting.  Cut letters (or other designs) from styrofoam, apply paint and use for stenciling.

If you have large pots for plants that don't have any drainage (because you have them inside or they were made without a hole in the bottom), break up styrofoam packaging
(or use styrofoam peanuts), place it in the bottom of the pot before adding the soil.

Keep the clear plastic containers that takeaways come in. They are good for a multitude of things, storage, for leftovers, for taking on picnics for food or utensils, they're easily stackable and you can always see what's in them.

Those carrying-caddys that six-pack bottles come in work great in your fridge to hold condiment and small softdrink bottles.

Donate old and unused books to literacy centers, libraries, youth centers, retirement homes.
Editor's note: Offer your magazines to hospitals or clinics.

Giftwrap:  Leftover pieces too small for a package?  Make a collage and hide the seams under bits of leftover ribon -- be creative (use a gluegun or double-stick or regular tape).

As you might have guessed by now, I'm the mom who re-uses wrapping paper and ribbon and bows year after year after year.  When it comes to recycling, I have no shame!!! 
So go ahead ... embarrass the kiddies ... rummage through that paper heap after the party and rescue discarded bows and usable wrap, boxes, etc.
(My daughter's gotten into the habit of presenting me with "rescued" bows, twinkle in her eyes :)

Did you know that when laying down cement patio blocks, newspaper makes a great barrier that not only prevents weeds from growing between the cracks,
it also holds back new growth of grass under the patio blocks.

Use newspaper for packing materials for glassware and other breakables.  If your have a shredder, use the shredded paper to cushion delicate items for shipping -- especially
f you're like me and prefer to read your newspaper on the web instead of getting a mess of unnecessary paper product in the house every day.

You can use paper (most any kind) and make beads for jewelry (that's a craft most kids love to do).

Use the tubes from paper towel rolls for storing panty hose; they fit nice and no runs.  Or stuff the tubes with plastic grocery bags and keep them with all your other lunch bags etc. 
Or cut them in smaller rings to hold matching socks together in the sock drawer.

Use egg cartons to start all your seedling in the early spring, this works great.  Start about 6 weeks before Spring.   Fill each egg cup up with dirt, add the seed, spray with water,
close the container and slide in a used bread bag.  Keep in a sunny place.

When you've finished with newspapers you can shred them, put the paper in a bucket with water overnight. In the morning drain off the excess water and put the wet paper in a rectanglular plastic box and press down very hard.  When the box is full, leave the paper to dry and remove.  Use this log as a clean alternative to wood on an open fire (save trees, money ... and it's less polluting).

Plastic Shampoo, Lotion, Conditioner bottles, etc.:  After you think you got the last bit out of the bottle, let it sit for at least day (or more). Then take a big sharp knife and cut it off about an inch
up from the bottom. Scrape out whatever's left in there to top off your next bottle. You'd be surprised how much stuff you still find left in there!

Pull weeds instead of using harsh herbicides.

Bring a coffee mug to work instead of using the plastic and styrofoam cups for water and coffee.

Use a mixture of 1/2 part vinegar and 1/2 water to wash windows instead of storebough chemicals.

While waiting for the shower to reach the right temperature, catch the water in a bucket, use for your plants.

Donate broken electronic equipment and appliances to the electronics department at your local vocational school.

Did you know you can make pesticide for plants by boiling water and adding Rosemary?  Works great on ants and other pests.

Did you know that Vaseline around a garden pot can detour snails, slugs?

Did you know cold left over tea is a GREAT way to wash wood floors?  They shine beautifully.

Did you know ketchup makes a great copper and brass cleaner?

Buy your bath soap in bulk packages, then unwrap them before storing (in your closet perhaps, smells nice!). Fresh soap contains a lot of moisture, making it disappear so much faster with use.
But a nicely dried-out bar of soap will last twice as long. (More soap for you, less soapy suds for the environment!)

Take leftover soap bits, grate them, then put the gratings into pantyhose that you have cut up and tied to make instant washing poofs with soap.

Collect leftover soap bits, put a bunch of them into an empty jar.  Add a bit of water and let them go all soft. If needed, add more water to work them into a smooth, not too thick paste.
Instant liquid soap ... easy to use when filled into an empty shampoo bottle.  Due to evaporation, one have to add a little water every now and then.

Use a re-useable lunch bag or lunch box to bring my lunch in, as well as using plastic sandwich boxes instead of plastic bags.

Never throw out lil ketchup/mayo/soy sauce  packets from fast food places. Use them at home.

Use coffee cans, Pringle cans, etc. as cookie jars.  Decorate with paint, fabric, ribbons.  Hot glue fabric to the plastic lid,
add ribbon or tassles and you have a creative container for giving treats or for storage.

When dusting, use old socks on each hand... no paper towels... just me and two sock puppets dusting!!
I also use kitchen towels past their prime for dusting, but the sock puppets are a lot more fun!

Planting mint around your kitchen window will help keep flies away.

Burning citrus-scented candles will keep away mosquitos.

When using scented candles that come in glass jars, don't throw them away when they're "done" burning.  Remove the wick part, melt on (electric) stove on the lowest setting
(or carefully in the microwave--place on large plate for safety).  To clean empty candle jars:  While still hot, wipe the inside with paper until all wax has been removed.
Wash and use for storage, especially those that come with pretty lids.

Melt other leftover candle bits in a fireproof bowl.  Place a votive candle into a small jar or a pretty (not too delicate!)  drinking glass, fill to the top of votive candle with melted wax.
Different-coloured wax creates a pretty rainbow effect. 
Unless otherwise noted,
all recipes copyright
Valkyrie Grant

(and other breakfast ideas)

QUICK LUNCH or SUPPER (it's all about Potatoes)