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Five Frequently Discarded Items and Their Many Uses

It’s up to us to do reduce the amount of trash we produce. One of the best ways we can do that, is by reusing some of the things we would normally throw away.


America has become notorious as a throwaway culture, and rightfully so. The United States often tops the charts as the most wasteful nation on Earth, with each citizen throwing out an average of 4.6 lbs of garbage everyday. And you’ve probably heard the statistic that says we produce 30-40 percent of the worlds trash, despite having only 5 percent of the world’s population.

When I was growing up, I often heard that statistic being scoffed at by my peers. “Of course we produce the most trash.” they’d say “We’re a manufacturing powerhouse. We produce most of the world’s goods”. However, our manufacturing base has been significantly gutted over the past 20 years, and we’re still among the most wasteful countries on Earth. More than half of that trash comes from residential sources, so it’s not about manufacturing and commercial industries. It’s a matter of personal choice on the part of the American consumer.

So it’s up to us to do reduce the amount of trash we produce. One of the best ways we can do that, is by reusing some of the things we would normally throw away. Below are some of the best examples of reusable items that we would normally throwaway.

Wire Hangars

Don’t try this at home, but I once used a wire hanger to fix a firearm. True story. I lost a pin that was holding the handguard in place, so I cut a small piece from a wire hanger to use as a replacement. Ever since then, hangers have been my go to material for fixing things around the house.

In truth, wire hangers are one of the most under-appreciated tools for do-it-yourselfers.  They can be cut and shaped into just about anything including key rings, clips, stands, guy lines, and hooks for unclogging drains. So don’t throw away all those extra hangars you get from the dry cleaners. They can be made into almost anything you can imagine.

Wine Corks

Most people have never considered reusing corks, or if they have, it’s usually for an art or home decor project. However there are several ways that corks can be turned into useful objects including pincushions, fishing bobbers, and garden mulch. They can also be used to clean and store knives. They’re great for scrubbing carbon steel blades without having to worry about scratches, and they can also be used to keep your knife sharp. If you store your knives in a crowded door, simply cut a slit into the cork and slip them onto the edge of your blade to preserve its edge.

And of course they can be stacked into a frame and used as a cork board. Who’d have thought?

Bacon Grease

After decades false accusations, saturated fats are finally getting the recognition they deserve. It turns out that America’s obesity epidemic probably isn’t being caused by fatty food, but is more likely being fueled by a diet that is high in refined sugars and grains. So it should come as no surprise that a lot of people are reconsidering the disposal of saturated fats like bacon grease, and are now cooking with it again just like their grandparents used to do. However, bacon grease can be used for more than just seasoning your skillet.

One little known use for bacon grease is for splinter removal. If you ever find yourself struggling to remove one of those dastardly bits of wood from your skin, simply apply a small amount of grease to the splinter, and place a band-aid over it. Let it sit for a few hours, or even overnight, and you’ll find that your skin has softened up enough to loosen the splinter.

There are also several recipes for using bacon fat to make soap, and you can even use it to make a candle. Pour the bacon grease in a cup or can, and place a wick inside. Give the grease a few minutes to soak into the wick, and then place it in the fridge until it solidifies. Viola! You now have the best smelling candle that money didn’t buy (at least if you like the smell of breakfast).

Garden Hose

Has your garden hose sprung a link? Don’t worry, you can use that to your advantage. As a matter of fact, poke a few more holes in it, and bury that section of hose in your garden to be used it as a drip line. You can also cut it into pieces and use them as handles for your tools and buckets. Or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, there are all kinds of wonderful projects for reusing garden hoses. Its strength, weather proofing, and flexibility makes it a great material for crafting baskets, lawn chairs, and doormats.

Altoid Tins

Nowadays most companies are content to package their goods in cheap plastic and cardboard, but not so with Altoids. They’ve stuck with the same hardy metal box for decades, with little variation on the design. It would be easy for them to repackage their candy in a cheap cardboard box like a pack junior mints, but for whatever reason they’ve decided not to.

And good thing they haven’t changed, because altoid tins are so useful for organizing, and they’re great for making miniature versions of larger kits. Have a tackle box? How about a mini tackle box? Do you have a first aid kit? How about a pocket first aid kit you can slip into your purse? Same goes with survival kits, fire starters, and sewing kits. Use them to store your change, or to organize your spare screws and bolts. They’re so versatile that many folks have started to have a lot of fun with them, turning them into candles holders, homemade radios, and pinhole cameras.

Like the other items on this list Altoid cans have dozens of uses, so think twice before you throw your stuff out. You might just be tossing out an opportunity to make your life a little easier.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on December 16th, 2014