junk shoved in places recycling home goods

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There’s a fine line between hoarding and reusing useful items in your home. It’s all too easy to end up with a pile of what should be trash that you’ve talked yourself into believing is a treasure. Knowing what things are useful, and when to throw out the trash is key. Saving the right things can help to reduce your costs around your homestead, bring in a little extra money, and create new hobbies. We’ve put together a quick cheat sheet about recycling home goods on your homestead.

Throw These Away

While you don’t have to toss these out with the garbage, they definitely aren’t items that most people need sitting around their homes. There are other items like these that people have laying around and I highly recommend you do a thorough search of your house and just get rid of them!

Items you SHOULD get rid of:

Books in Bad Shape:

Toss out or repurpose books that aren’t in good condition or damaged beyond repair. Books that are antique or have sentimental value deserve repairing. If they’re not worth the money to have properly repaired then throw them out. Books that you never read are just dust collectors.

Ink Cartridges:

Don’t try to keep and reuse your ink cartridges. Sign up for an ink supply program for your printer and they will provide you with a postage-paid cartridge return envelope. Don’t want to sign up? You can still return your cartridges to your local office supply store. Don’t bother keeping them to have them refilled. Firstly, the major companies are fixing it now so that it will be more expensive, over the long term, to off-market refill cartridges. Secondly, they just don’t print as well as those that you get fresh. We use an ink subscription for our printer and LOVE it!

Old Batteries:

Whether for your flashlight or your car, holding onto old batteries isn’t a great idea. There are plenty of places that will accept these for recycling. Get them out of your house and be safer and healthier.

Reusable Items

You can save the items on this list if you want to, but first, you must decide if they should be saved. Some of these items have many uses around the house but if you’re not actually going to use them then they’re honestly better off in the trash or given to someone else who will use them.

Items you can use around the house:

Reusable Coffee Pods or Yogurt Cups:

Do you garden? Do you start your own seeds? These little plastic cups are great for seed starting. However, you want to get rid of the metal lid and toss that.

Old, Holey Clothing:

Turn old clothing into rags for dusting and cleaning. Cotton underclothes make fantastic dusting rags. Denim can be reworked into aprons or quilt backing. You can take an adult shirt and turn it into a dress for a little girl or a cute handbag!


Old sheets and quilts are a treasure trove of fabric. Most quilt tops can be repaired and re-quilted and live for decades that way. Sheets can be repurposed into rags, rugs, curtains, and even clothing.

My grandmother had a lovely set of sheets in a beautiful soft yellow with like blue roses and delicate green leaves. It was decades old when she passed away and I repurposed them into a beautiful Double Irish Chain quilt, a lovely shirt and a matching skirt.

Reusable Plastic Grocery Bags:

Many people already reuse these around their homes. These are great for cleaning out cat litter boxes, lining small trash cans, or picking up dog poop when you walk your dog.

Shredded Paper, Brown Paper Bags, Cardboard/ Cardboard Boxes:

All of these are paper products meaning they were originally parts of trees ones. You can use these paper products as compost and mulch in your garden or as a weed deterrent. If you’re into strawbale gardening, you can lay cardboard boxes out underneath your haybales and not have to worry that weeds will work their way up into your garden.

Reusable Plastic Bottles and Jars:

Jars and bottles can be reused for dry goods storage such as for beans, seeds, and rice. You can also keep potable and non-potable emergency water in old plastic bottles. One of my favorite uses is winter sowing seeds in clear and non-colored white bottles and using them as cold frames. Plastic ice cream containers can have their print removed with acetone. Rinse them well and they can be used as winter garden seed incubators or countertop composters.

Glass Bottles and Jars:

Old glass bottles and jars are a wonderful resource to reuse. First off, you can use them for food preservation AS LONG AS you ALWAYS purchase a new lid if you use them for canning. My personal favorite use for them, however, is as grease jars. I keep a stash under my sink, just like my mother and her mother before her. The only difference is, I clarify my grease and keep it as lard in these jars!

Reusable Aluminum Foil:

Especially if it’s easy to wipe off and clean, aluminum foil can be reused over and over. Use to resharpen scissors by folding over until six layers thick then cut through. use to help reduce dryer time by crumpling into a ball

Reusable Envelopes:

These are another of my personal favorites. I find the size of envelopes to be perfect for writing on, and use them as to-do lists all the time. However, you can also use them for keeping seeds, reuse them to send your own mail, and shred for gardening mulch.

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