While everybody knows recycling is good for the environment, few think of it as an avenue for saving themselves money.

There are many things you might be tempted to throw away when you can easily reuse or repurpose them.

Leave It Alone

First of all, there are many things you don’t need to modify in any way to be able to give it new life.

If you’re willing to clean them and aren’t rough with them, plastic utensils can last fairly long, and an entire box of them might last you as long as metal ones.

You can similarly reuse clean aluminum foil and plastic zip-lock bags after a gentle cleaning, and suddenly you’re buying sandwich bags less frequently.

Many plastic takeout food containers, such as the clamshell ones, can also be cleaned and reused, and many are even safe to use in dishwashers and microwaves.

If you need to keep something dry, save your silica packets and use them to absorb ambient moisture.

What are toothbrushes but tools for cleaning very small spaces? Most dental professionals recommend replacing your toothbrush every three-to-four months. After their time passes, keep them around to clean hard-to-reach places or delicate objects.

When a stick of butter is all used up, all that remains is its residue on its wrapper. How convenient! Now if you need to spread butter on something like a cooking pan, you have a clean buttery wipe ready to go. This also works if a recipe calls for just the teensiest bit of butter.

Tweak It Just a Little

There are other things that require a little bit of modification, but the end product won’t be that far removed from its original form.

For example, if you have some old clothes or bedsheets, you can cut these up and produce all the cleaning rags you’ll need for quite a while. You can do the same thing with old towels, or you can make them into new bathmats.

If you use a lot of wax candles, you might be able to soon start making your own. If you collect chips of wax from previous candles, you can melt them and pour them into a candle jar. Insert a fresh wick, let it cool, and you just got yourself a free candle.

Families with children go through a lot of food, such as cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for school lunches. Can you see where I’m going with this? Empty cereal bags can be cut up and reshaped to become the perfect sandwich bags. Actually, they can carry a whole lot of things, food or otherwise, since they’re thicker than regular plastic bags and baggies.

Did you accidentally buy too much bread and now it’s gone stale? Well, do you need breadcrumbs? Stale bread makes better crumbs than fresh bread because it’s firmer. You don’t need to waste food if you can help it.

Tissue boxes can be annoying to throw away because they’re tough to break down, but luckily, you don’t have to throw them away at all. You can repurpose them as mini trash bins (it’s up to you if you want to cut the top off for this or not). If you keep plastic shopping bags and reuse them, you could use the tissue boxes as orderly containers for them.

Even something as big and bulky as old furniture can be recycled if you’re game for a little DIY. For example, a wooden dresser drawer can be hung on a wall and made into a display or a shelf; it can even be more than one shelf if you want to source other wood from the dresser. For a more straightforward use, a dresser drawer can become a garden box or planter.

Rethink, Reimagine

Then there are things you can reuse as they are, but in a whole new way.

After you’ve finished the laundry cycle, what’s to be done with the used dryer sheets? Since they seemed so clingy coming out of the box, wouldn’t you agree that they’d make great dust wipes?

Do you recall those mesh produce nets used for selling things like onions, garlic, and citrus fruits by the bunch? They were designed to bring food, and now they can take food away. When they’re empty, ball them up and use them to scrub food off dirty plates while doing the dishes. If you ball it up tightly enough, it can even hold dish soap. It works just like a steel wool pad. Since sponges get very dirty very fast, this might be the better alternative.

What isn’t quite as dirty though is used cooking water. Even after you’re done boiling noodles, vegetables or hot dogs, that water can still be consumed by something: your houseplants. As long as the water isn’t visibly filthy, it’s water all the same, and your plants won’t mind the weird aftertaste.

Speaking of cooking, how often do you use lemons or other citrus fruits? You may have heard that citrus peels, especially lemon peels, can make excellent cleaning agents if used correctly. You’ll need to combine it with some vinegar and let it stew, but lemon peels are one half of this easy grease-eating cleaning solution. Also, if for whatever reason you have a lemon you don’t plan to use for food anymore, cut it in half and rub it on something rusty to remove the rust; for best results, use it with a pinch of coarse salt.

The Secret Ringer

This last one is something you might not find around your house anymore, but considering how cheap they are, you might want to buy one just to have on-hand for odd jobs.

Who would have thought newspaper would be the ultimate tool?

You may already know that newspaper makes a great substitute for packing peanuts when you’re sending an item in the mail. But something about newspaper’s consistency makes it surprisingly absorptive. Newspaper can be used as a reinforcement for home insulation or you can just use a bunch of newspaper by itself.

It can also be used for cleaning glass and mirrors; as long as it doesn’t get wet enough to bleed the ink, it won’t leave any streaks at all.

Newspaper is also famous for sucking up odors. If you need to store something smelly in the fridge, the pantry, or somewhere else, put some newspaper in there with it.

This writer also just found out there’s supposedly a special trick where you can lay a newspaper over your car’s windshields and windows on a cold night and they won’t be frosted over in the morning.

Considering it’s several sheets of magic paper for no more than a dollar or two, I think I need to get myself a newspaper.