Day 13 of the January Money Diet – Repurpose Something

If you’ve just joined us, the January Money Diet is a challenge to take a 31-day break from nonessential spending. You can learn more about the money diet here — and jump right in!

Make a quilt at Happy Simple Living blog

Photo: Quiltsalad

Our ancestors were continually looking for ways to reuse and repurpose things.  For example, if they hadn’t been so clever about saving fabric scraps and creatively stitching them together, there would be no patchwork quilts. Meat scraps were turned into sausage, sour milk was used for baking, and scraps of wool were cut in strips and hooked into rugs.

Look around, and see what resource you could repurpose in a new way. For example:

  • Instead of throwing it away, turn an old, worn t-shirt or tube sock into a rag. In our great-grandmother’s day, nearly every household had a rag bag — and they didn’t need jumbo 8-packs of paper towels, either.
  • Use the last few pieces of bread to make croutons or bread crumbs. If you have tortillas that are past their prime, turn ’em into homemade chips.
  • Don’t throw away the red mesh bag that the onions came in; use it as a Salad Spinner to dry washed salad greens. Or take it with you to the farmers’ market and use it to carry home your produce.
  • Use newspaper to wash your windows. Or use it to make homemade kitty litter.

Homework assignment #13: Find a practical use for something you might otherwise have thrown away, and be sure to let us know what you do!


Win a Deluxe Happy Simple Living Gift Basket

In honor of the January Money Diet, I’ll be giving away a gift basket chock-full of home and garden goodies plus several books at the end of the month. On January 31, 2013, I’ll draw one random name from everyone who commented during the month and that lucky person will win the gift basket. I hope you’ll stop by often this month and share your own ideas, thoughts and experiences about taking a 31-day break from nonessential spending.


About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Day 13 of the January Money Diet – Repurpose Something

  • lindsey doolin

    @Annie- onion bags as soap scrubbies = genius. Thanks for that!

  • Martha

    Took a cardboard box which had been destined for recycling and used it to rebuild a compost pile where we want squash for next summer. Thought we would see if it could keep everything more contained as it broke down!

  • Just last week I posted this about repurposing a shoe organizer.

    And those red mesh onion bags? We tie our homemade soap bars in them to make shower scrubby. 🙂

  • Mariah O.

    I took some yogi tea boxes turned them inside out, colored the sides, taped it back up to make colorful pencil/pen boxes. I also covered some plain cardboard boxes with pretty scrapbook paper to organize pretend food and other toys.

  • Carolyn

    Great ideas – I love the red mesh salad spinner – will use!

    My latest: for those winter jackets that somehow don’t snug the wrists – the cuffs of worn-out, holey sockswork wonderfully – put on like mittens (handless), then jacket and gloves/mittens…cozy!

  • Deborah Gore

    I love the idea of reusing the onions bags. I took my boys old dress shirts and made bags to use at the farmers market. I always get wonderful comments from people at the market when I got in with my basket and bags. No plastic bags! Thanks for all of the great ideas. Only thing bought at our home so far this month has been food!

    I do have a question. Here in South Carolina it is time to plant some items in the garden. Thanks to an assignment earlier in the month, my seeds are all in order and ready to go. But I do need to buy a few seeds and some fertilizer. Would you consider this to be essential or non-essential? Thank you!

    • Terri

      Love the idea of using onion bag for salad spinner and homemade kitty litter link. Going green on cat litter has baffled me for a long time. I have 5 indoor cats.

      For repuposing things, just before I read this post, I had just checked my supply of coffee cans and other cans to use for vases or centerpieces for daughters upcoming wedding. She is using twigs and natural burlap type decor. I can decorate these for her using things I already have or can find in the yard.

      I love to give flowers to people. Today I thought of growing some of my own and making small, “thinking of you” arrangements using things I already have like small jars for vases. Might be some vine type greenery that grows here I could use for a bow around the jar, umm?

      Jan. Money Diet and this entire blog is an incredibly creative and simple place to be. I love it here. I just discovered you last night via LivingSimplyFree, another incredible blog. Both of you are truly simple and sincere.

  • Great challenge today, Eliza, my grandparents who lived through the depression raised me so I learned early on to re-purpose everything. So far this month, I turned a coffee container into a toy storage tub, cut up a couple shirts I didn’t like but my grand daughter did, and am making shirts for her to wear right now, the extra pieces went into my rag basket (we don’t buy paper towels), and made a toy tent for dolls out of fabric scraps and plastic sticks. It’s fun to create something new, and even more fun to do it with little ones who are enjoying using their imagination to come up with ideas of their own.

  • Siv Jane Andersen


    Flott å følge dere på veien til ett enklere, bedre? liv. Jeg ønsker å fokusere mere på gjenbruk, og bruke tid på mine nærmeste. Begrense kjøp til det mest nødvendige. Det er inspirerende å følge deg.

    • Takk for dine kommentarer, og lykke til med dine mål!

      I don’t speak Norwegian, but used Google Translate to read your comments and reply: “Thanks for your comments, and good luck with your goals!)

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