20+ Ways to Give a Second Life to Things We Usually Throw Away

Tips & tricks
2 years ago

In recent years, the idea of totally getting rid of unnecessary things has become more popular. Bloggers, celebrities, and psychologists all keep encouraging us to throw away things that haven’t been used for more than a year. However, even food waste, construction waste, cabinet doors, and a broken globe can still be useful and you don’t need to become a DIY expert for that.

We at Bright Side aren’t urging you to endlessly save and store everything you have in your apartment, but instead — to start to use it right away. It will help reduce the amount of garbage in the world and make your life simpler.

Old furniture

“I made a princess bed for my princess Leila! Refurbished an old coffee table and repurposed an old blanket into a doggy pillow!”

Old furniture is first on the list of “things to get rid of” when one starts a repair or simply wants to refresh their living space. However, sometimes it’s more sensible and cheaper to give it the second life.

  • Grandma’s chest of drawers. Oftentimes, all you need to do to make them look good and match your interior is to repaint them.
  • Single chairs and chairs without legs. You can use single chairs as flower pot holders, while broken chairs might become swings, bookshelves, or even hangers. Broken tables, in their turn, could become nightstands.
  • Flower pots (especially ones made of clay, even if they’re broken). You can create a nice composition using some soil, moss, and a pair of succulents.
  • Old furniture for kids. You can make perfect holders for home appliances from old changing tables. What-not shelves can be used in the bathroom or in the kitchen, while a baby crib can be easily transformed into a small couch.

“Both of our children used this crib for the first 2.5 years of their lives. Trying to get another 5 years out of it!”

Broken lamps. If it’s just the lampshade or the holder that is broken, but the whole mechanism works, you can give the lamp a second chance. Anything from a skein of twine to old toys can help you refresh its look.

Old things

“Bookshelf I made from an old trunk”

Due to the current abundance of choice and fashion, many household items are thrown away undeservedly early. Almost new toothbrushes, razors, stationery, table lamps — all these and many other things can be used again.

  • Old cosmetic cases. Cream and shadow boxes can become perfect pots for succulents, while small palettes can become useful road kits.

"Repurposed an old makeup palette and put together a mini grooming kit. The magnet holds everything in place."

  • Terry towels. Terry cloth is excellent for polishing cutlery, as well as glass and crystal glassware. You can use them as reusable kitchen rags. Moreover, these towels can help you in the baking process.

“Best cake making trick I’ve ever learned. Cut a strip from an old towel, soak it in water, and squeeze out the excess, wrap it around the cake tin and secure it with metal pins before baking. You’ll get nice evenly cooked cakes with no doming.”

  • Toothbrush. Dentists recommend changing your toothbrush once every 3-4 months. Within this period, toothbrushes almost lose their fluff, so you can use them for cleaning anything: tile joints in the bathroom and in the kitchen, the soles of your shoes where sand and small stones are stuck, and even keyboards.
  • Carpet. You can cut it into pieces and make soft pads for furniture legs.
  • Bath curtain. This plastic item doesn’t let moisture get through it, so you can use it during picnics as an underlaying for a blanket. If you have pets, you can make a carpet for them. Ordinary curtains can be repurposed as well.

"Just finished sewing produce bags. Won't feel worried about polluting the Earth anymore."

  • Film cameras. Nowadays shooting with film is trendy again — it is sold and processed in every big city. Photos taken on the film camera seem to be more soulful.
  • Bedsheets. Bedsheets that are no longer suitable for home usage can find their second life in your vacation house. You can use them for covering plants overnight to protect them from frost, rather than covering each plant separately.

Made “baskets” from curtain and duvet covers, whales from upholstery scraps and old clothes, and the girls designed their dresses and used old clothing, scraps, and a bedsheet."

  • TV set with a picture tube. Old TVs can be easily turned into aquariums because they have hermetic glass in the front part. You can also use an old TV set as a small table or a pet bed.

“1960s Zenith TV. We took out the tube and now we keep books, a catch-all dish, and pottery on top, and our cat inside.”

  • Drinking glasses without a match. You can use them as flower pots or holders for the various small items our houses are usually full of.
  • Pet toys. There is always a way to save money and not have to buy new things — just make a new toy out of several old ones.

“I sewed some of my dog’s destroyed toys into a hybrid monstrosity. She is pretty happy to have a new toy!”

Food waste

Food waste makes up about 19% of all garbage that is disposed of in landfills in countries like the UK and the USA. It is easy to reduce these numbers by not throwing them away instantly.

  • Potato peels. Although they don’t look attractive from the outside, they are “rich” in vitamins and minerals. Potato peels contain polysaccharides, vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine, folates, magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, and much more. They soothe burned skin perfectly, help with arthritis, and are even suitable for fertilizing flowers — all you need to do is to dry them in the oven.

“I had to peel potatoes for soup. Instead of throwing the peels away, I baked them in the oven with some oil for homemade chips!”

  • Coffee grounds. They are an excellent odor neutralizer and repeller of pests and insects. You can also make a scrub or a flower fertilizer from them or polish a scratch on a wooden furniture item (see the photo below).
  • Strawberries and carrot bottoms. The easiest thing to do is to add them when brewing tea — you’ll get the perfect anti-inflammatory drink. The roots of greenery can be reused too — just place them in water and you’ll get fresh greenery after several days.

“Learned this from my mom. Every time you buy chives/green onions just cut most of them off and use them or store them in the fridge. Then put the roots in a cup with half an inch of water. Regrows back to full size or more within a few days. You can repeat this up to about 2-4 times if you have a good batch.”

  • Citrus peels. Just dry them — you can add them to a tea or place them in the dishwasher to get rid of soap stains on dishes. Peels sprinkled with salt are perfect for scrubbing soap scum off of the bathtub.

"My mom uses the leftover peels from the oranges we eat to make candied orange peels."

  • Berry seeds. You can put cherry seeds into a sock and heat it in the microwave to use as a heating pad. You can also plant them and grow new fruits.

“My wife took seeds from our fruits and vegetables last month and our used milk jugs and egg cartons to start a little indoor garden.”

  • Banana peels. They seem to be a universal treatment for anything. Banana peels remove warts, soften meat, prevent wrinkles, and whiten teeth. In most cases, all you need to do is apply a peel and wait for the results.

"Pepperoni made from banana peels. This is how I seduce meat-eaters."

Old clothes

“I made a bag, that universally fits under all major airline seats, out of old fabric, a vintage leather jacket, and parts from old purses.”

Usually, it’s almost new clothes that we have to say goodbye to most often because of a small stain, a tiny hole, or a pulled thread. However, these things can still be very useful for you.

  • T-shirts. Almost everyone already knows that you can make rugs and pillows from this clothing item. Moreover, most T-shirts are made of cotton and they can become good reusable rugs. Also, a T-shirt for an adult can easily become a T-shirt for a kid, while T-shirts for kids are perfect for small dogs and cats.

"A dress for my baby girl, cut from my old shirt. Crocheted an owl for embellishment."

  • Socks. Socks can be put over shoes so that they don’t get dirty when stored in a closet or on the legs of chairs so that they don’t scratch the floor. They can also be used as an organizer for little items. Put soap and the peels of citrus fruits inside the sock — and you will get an excellent remedy for moths, along with a neutralizer of odors.
  • Jeans. You can make a perfect organizer for storing small stuff from jean pockets and it can easily be adjusted to an armchair or a kitchen table. Trouser legs can be repurposed into a stylish backpack or even swings.
  • Old dresses. Just like jeans, dresses can be turned into various useful things like pillowcases and rags. Or you can refresh it a little bit and continue wearing it.

"Beaded and appliqued this rust-stained dress and wore it to a wedding."

Construction waste

“My parents planted an apple tree when I was born. Sadly, the tree died a few weeks ago, so I made a bookshelf out of it.”

Though we might call it waste, some things that are left over from repairs or construction can be used to bring you benefits and help you save money.

  • Sacks. Use sacks from coal, sawdust, and macadam to make a garbage bin. Or you can make a tote bag or other useful things. By the way, product bags can be repurposed too.

"Upcycled my coffee bean bags into a tote bag."

  • Sawdust. It’s the perfect option for filling gift boxes that will be mailed — it will protect the contents from shaking and possible damage. You can also use sawdust to fight oil stains and for covering the soil in flower pots so that the moisture evaporates slower.
  • Boxes. Various boxes from construction materials and palettes can be repurposed as small stands and bookshelves.

"Got free empty crates from a local store and made the perfect bookshelves!"

What things do you never dispose of? Please share your lifehacks in the comments!

Preview photo credit charlenehg / reddit


Get notifications

I think this TV set looks really stylish with a cat inside of it :D


I love the idea of this book shelf-trunk. My gran also has such a thing, now I want to update it too


Friends of the family turned their old entertainment center (it fit the boxier tvs) into a bookcase for their grandchild. They then gave to my nephew and it’s super cute. (Sorry, his name puzzle is crossed out haha)

Comment with image on Bright Side

Related Reads