How to Recycle Household Items You Never Thought Could Be Reused

Take a look around your house right now and I guarantee that your eyes will fall upon some items that you are ready to toss into the garbage that can effectively be put to a second use. Maybe, in some cases, the recycled use will actually serve you better and longer than the original, intended use. In other cases, of course, the secondary utilization will be merely a better way to put that item to use than merely targeting it as rubbish.

Banana Peels

Banana peels can go directly into the garbage can or they can given a second use that will actually help provide more food to your table. Because banana peels are a good source of potassium and phosphorus, they can be quite useful when added to your compost pile or mixed in with fertilizer. Fertilizing your backyard garden is such a more efficient use for used banana peels than adding to your city’s landfill.

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap should never be put to rest inside a landfill with the bubbles remaining unpopped. Bubble wrap can actually serve two additional purposes besides adding a layer of protection inside packaging. In the first place, popping the bubbles on the wrap can be a very relaxing way to relieve stress. If that doesn’t appeal to you, engage the quality of insulation offered by bubble wrap as a means of protecting doghouses, sheds or other outdoor structures against the extremities of weather.

Credit Cards

When your credit card becomes old and no longer usable, don’t toss it into the garbage, but rather slip it into your vehicle’s glove compartment. First, file down one edge so that it is razor sharp. Sharpening the long edge of a credit card creates an ice scraper every bit as effective as something more expensive you’d buy in a store.

Eyeglass Case

That old case into which your old eyeglasses fits perfectly but which is the wrong size or shape to allow a comfortable fit for your new glasses need not become obsolete. How many different things can you think of that would fit inside a sturdy little hinged case? Fishing supplies. Pens and pencils. Travel drives. Medication. The list goes on for the ways that an old eyeglass case can be recycled to hold something besides glasses.


When keys become obsolete, they almost always become trash. Or else they are left inside some drawer to sit until you waste half a day trying to see what lock is opened by that forgotten key. Another idea is recycling old keys. Old keys are much more limited in recycling application than an eyeglass case, admittedly, but they are not totally without a secondary utilization. For one thing, toss that key into the old eyeglass case used to hold fishing tackle; keys make a great fishing weight. A more abstract and sneaky use for an old key is as a decoy. Hide a key outside your house in a place that a burglar might check. When he finds the old key doesn’t actually open anything, you just might fool him into not looking in the place where you have hidden the real key. Worth a shot, right?


What possible way could an old mailbox be reused or recycled? Depending on the materials and the design, an old mailbox can be put to second use as a tunnel. A mailbox placed over a toy train track or slot car track instantly becomes a tunnel. Maybe not exciting to you, but try telling that to a little kid.


Neckties come into style and go out of style. Remember those 1970s neckties that were roughly as wide as Rhode Island is long? Old ties that a man just can’t bring himself to wear anymore have one of the most pleasing of second uses for those with a flair for the visual. Instead of cheap ribbon when wrapping a gift, give the present a unique sense of style by using a tie to, well, tie it all together.

Sheet Music

Have a kid in the school band? Have piles of sheet music begun accumulating all over the house? Save those notes and chords and tempos and whatever else songwriters put on sheet music. When the kid quits band or graduates or takes off on his music scholarship, you can recycle all that paper. Sheet music has a distinctively arty appearance that can lend aesthetic appeal all over the place. Decoupage a coffee table. Affix sheet music to a dull lampshade with linseed oil and when it dries the lampshade will be dull no more. Cover a book. Adorn a wall. The decorative appeal of all those musical notes has the ability to bring any number of surfaces to life.


When sponges have finally lost the squishy elasticity that makes them ideal for cleaning, they can find a second life by recycling them for the purpose of quieting vibrations. A sponge slipped beneath the bottom of a washing machine or refrigerator can reduce the intensity of the vibration and bring soothing silence where none existed before.

Toilet Plunger

Take a plunger and jam the handle down into the ground. What do you have left? A perfect bowl. What can you put in that bowl? Well, depending on how thoroughly you cleaned the old plunger after investing in a new one, pretty much anything. Melt some candle wax in the center of the surface and the toilet plunger becomes a kind of really weird tiki torch. Or make the upturned recycle plunger into a convenient hand-level storage area for food to feed any critters that visit your yard. An old plunger also effectively serves as a community ashtray that is ridiculously easy to clean.

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