January Money Diet Day 27 – Repurpose Something

Handmade Quilt

Photo: Martin Lindstrom

If you’ve ever read about the Great Depression or heard about it from your family, you know that people were thrifty and creative about reusing and repurposing things. They saved fabric scraps and creatively stitched them together to make 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.

Could you repurpose something in a new way? For instance:

Instead of throwing away old, worn t-shirts or tube socks, turn them into rags. In our great-grandmother’s day, nearly every household had a rag bag — and they didn’t go through a jumbo 8-packs of paper towels every month.

Use the last few pieces of bread to make croutons or bread crumbs.

Do you have tortillas that are past their prime? Turn them 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 make homemade kitty litter. I’m not kidding! Or use it to wash your windows.

For some more fun ideas, you might enjoy Twisted Sifter’s 50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things.

Today’s Homework Assignment: Find a practical use for something you might otherwise have thrown away, and be sure to let us know what you do.


The signature for Eliza Cross

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.

January Money Diet Day 27 – Repurpose Something

  • Betsy

    Nice ideas Eliza. I think my most favorite repurposing is making quilts out of scrap fabrics and rags out of old shirts.

  • Carolyn

    One of my favorites is reusing/repurposing mandarin orange cartons – they stack wonderfully to store odds & ends. Covered w/leftover wallpaper, better-looking, or (a bit of an overkill), painted with leftover household paint – again, great-looking – AND a chance to try out creative paint finishes – sponging, diy chalkboard paint, ragging, etc., before trying them on the walls!

  • Eliza, thank you I will check out these links for more ideas. This weekend my granddaughter who is 5 wanted to sew something on my sewing machine. I pulled out a bag of fabric I picked up for $3 at a thrift shop and she immediately pulled out a vibrant colored house dress. I was surprised by this immediate decision as she didn’t want to see any of the other fabrics. She spotted one of the pockets on the front and asked for a purse with a handle and to leave the pocket on for the outside front of her purse. It came out so cute. But now that we had cut into this dress and seeing how adorable the fabric looked I began to cut up the rest of the dress, carefully removing the zipper and created a sun dress with a back zipper for the youngest granddaughter for her birthday next month.

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