10 Things You Shouldn’t Throw Away (And What to Do with Them Instead)

published Dec 23, 2022
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Binder clips and rubber bands organized in pickle jar.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

There’s something so satisfying about reusing and repurposing things in your kitchen (or elsewhere in your home!). Giving items like jars, boxes, kitchen tools that no longer seem useful, or even that last heel of bread one last use means less waste and saving money and energy. The best way to do that, in our humble opinion? Keep a running list of “last things.” Here are 10 clever ideas to get you started. 

1. Use your empty pickle jar to store junk drawer items.

Many of us find that we need some office supplies like rubber bands or binder clips in the kitchen and, far too often, they end up scattered around the junk drawer. Instead, corral them in empty pickle jars, which tend to be a nice, squat size with a large opening that makes it easy to retrieve what you need. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

2. Use your Parmesan shaker for baking soda.

Baking soda is such a great cleaner, but it isn’t always convenient to access, as it often comes in a bag or box. Pour it into your next empty Parmesan shaker for an easy-to-use alternative. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

3. Use your old ice cube tray to freeze food.

Ice cube trays may no longer be necessary for ice, but they’re still useful for freezing and stashing food items like leftover pesto, chicken stock, tomato paste, and more. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

4. Use a heel of bread to keep your cookies fresh.

Put the heel of your white or wheat bread inside your cookie container to keep your homemade treats from getting crunchy and stale. Most would agree that this is a far better use than forcing yourself to eat it!

Credit: Sarah Crowley

5. Fill empty creamer containers with dry goods.

If you use a creamer like Coffee-mate in your coffee, you go through a steady supply of creamer containers. Rather than recycling them, take off the labels, wash and dry them, and then use them to store your dry goods like beans or popcorn. Not only are they stashed nicely, but they’re also easy to dispense out of. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

6. Turn that salsa jar into a mini terrarium.

This “last thing” suggestion isn’t merely utilitarian. No one needs a terrarium in their kitchen, but wouldn’t every kitchen be happier with one? A cleaned-out salsa jar is the perfect size for this lovely project. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

7. Turn a single sock into a dusting mitt.

Rather than toss that sock that’s missing its mate or leaving it to languish in the sock bin in the laundry room, turn it into a convenient dusting mitt. Using a sock worn on the hand to dust means you can easily dust intricately shaped items. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

8. Use baby food jars to stash spices.

Baby food jars are the cutest. And their small shape is perfect for storing spices — especially if you tend to buy them in bulk. Remove the labels and use a funnel to transfer spices into your jars. Label them with a label maker or some painter’s tape and a Sharpie. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

9. Use that scrap of wax paper to keep your ice cream fresh.

It’s disheartening to open a carton of ice cream and be faced with ice crystals. Keep your ice cream fresh by covering the top with wax paper before you put the lid back on. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

10. Use the last bit of baby powder to make it easy to slip into your rubber gloves.

Sprinkling a touch of baby powder into your rubber gloves makes them so much easier to put on — especially if your hands are already wet from kitchen duties. Use your last bit of baby powder in your gloves so you can get rid of the container but not waste anything.