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Trash to Treasures

Trash To Treasures was created by Sarah Kennington, originator of The Frugal Life.  The idea was to find ways to reuse items that are normally being trashed.

We have several items that are listed but we know there are many more.  If you have suggestions for other items let us know the name of the item and your suggested use.  If we like it we will create a new page for it and highlight your name for having the original idea.  Hopefully, as more people join in you will even find other uses for that Trash to Treasures item.

Blue Jeans

Blue Jeans II

Bread Tabs


Egg Cartons

Empty Boxes

Film Canisters

Metal Cans

Milk Jugs

Panty Hose

Plastic Bags

Popsicle Sticks

Paper Tubes

Scratch Paper


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Using Styrofoam

It works great to use as a paint pallet, to mix colors on,etc. Trish

My kids and I love to make things from all the Styrofoam packing peanuts I get from my online orders.  We glue them on pictures or use them under paper mache to add definition without the weight.  They come in several different colors but the white ones are best for making Christmas decorations.  One simple one is to make a cardboard cone to be a Christmas tree.  Then glue either all white packing peanuts and then wipe with a watered down solution of white glue or use some kind of spray adhesive before sprinkling with sparkles.  We even string them together to make necklaces with or you can make garland for your Christmas tree with them.   Diane

Lids from egg cartons can be cut into  shapes for children to  use in many ways:  Stencils can be cut with a Exacto knife for children to use in painting on their bedroom walls. Draw on the Styrofoam with a Sharpie marker, and carefully cut with knife.  Cut several of each one, make the shapes not too detailed…simple like fish, then cut the fin shape in another stencil to use over the first one when the paint dries… The same for the fish tail and eyes if you want more details. Heck we adults can use them like this too…. Jean

When doing cross-stitch projects I take a sharpie and label areas of Styrofoam with thread numbers. I then spot glue it to my project board. Which includes glued on pincushion. I then thread the different needles with the colors needed and place them in the areas noted . I also try to put the symbol used in the project in each area. this Way I don’t have to stop, separate, and then thread a needle each time.  Pam

You can use Styrofoam cups to start seedlings before planting them in a garden.    If you buy tomatoes at the grocery store, you can use the Styrofoam tray underneath a plant pot to avoid messing overfills. The tray will catch any water that might overfill.  Robin

I wash the trays that come from vegetables, and use then as an artist’s tray.  I can mix colors or just put globs of colors on the tray. My daughter’s preschool uses them for painting, too. I also use them as a sorting tray when I make craft items in a assembly line. Each tray holds a part, etc. I never use the trays from meat, the risk is too high. Jamie

You can use those big chunks of Styrofoam that TVs and stereos come packaged in to make a fun gross motor toy for kids. I use this in my special education classroom and the kids love it. First, get some golf tees (about $2 for new, or scrounge up some old ones) and either a toy hammer that your kids already have or a rubber mallet (I use a mallet in my classroom). Then, let the kids pound the tees into the foam. It’s much safer than the real thing, the tees are reusable when the foam is too torn up to use, and the kids get to practice eye-hand coordination skills while having fun! If you are doing this with really little kids, you’ll need to supervise so they don’t accidentally choke on the tees or chunks of foam  Stephanie

My contribution for the use of Styrofoam is as follows: use the "peanuts" or  small pieces in the bottom of potted plants instead of the gravel or broken pottery to allow the water to drain, this also lightens the weight of the pot considerably. Rebecca

Pantyhose Uses

I cut the elastic waistband off old pantyhose. My favorite use for it is to put on around a kitchen trash can to keep the trash bag from falling down inside.  It can also be used as a giant rubber band for many things like stacks of newspapers or magazines. 

I use the foot part as a filter to put over the end of my shop vac hose.  When I want to clean my aquarium I remove the fish to another container.  Then I use the shop vac with the pantyhose filter to "vacuum" all the water out without sucking up the gravel.  It beats trying to lift the aquarium to empty it or to bale the water out

Here is an idea to use up both old pantyhose AND those leftover slivers of bar soap. Put the slivers of soap in the pantyhose, and hang it outside by your water hose ( or anywhere else you might need to wash hands up quickly) to wash your hands with after gardening and other outdoor work. That turns TWO things that would have been trash into something useful! Christie

Cut a piece and tie off one end, fill with garlic bulbs (or onions) and hang.  Keeps garlic from rotting by allowing air to flow through.

It can be turned into a wig for a young girl’s dress up box. The legs will need to be cut into thirds lengthwise and then braided. Put a pretty bow of  yarn or ribbon at the end of each braid to secure closed. The white panty area of the pantyhose (if your pair has that) can be sewn closed so that it is not visible from the outside. The elastic waistband goes around the child’s head and holds the "wig" in place.  This idea looks even nicer if you have two of the same colored pantyhose to work with. In this case, put one panty hose inside the other; all the way from the waist to the toes. Sew the two waistbands together with a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine. The two legs are braided together in the same way you would do it for one pair. This "wig" will have more fullness and body than a single pantyhose wig. I have made these for my daughters and they both really liked them quite a lot. Mary Alice

I use pantyhose tied to the end of the water hose that runs from the washing machine to the sink to collect lint etc. that would otherwise end up in the sink drain. I tie it to the end of the hose using garbage ties.

We put a portion of a ruined pantyhose over the back of our hard drive to help keep dust out.– Susan R

Pantyhose make a great cat toy, and if it gets hunted into cat space, or clawed to pieces, you’re not out of pocket. Snip of each leg of the hose, add a little dried catnip in the toe (or if the ladder is in the toe, a couple of twists later) and give it a twist, turn it inside out, give it another twist, turn it back on itself. You can finish it with a couple of stitches if you think it needs it, but often the stretch of the fabric holds it in shape.   they also make great dusters for doing fiddly things, just slipped over the hand, and moved around when that patch gets dirty. — A. Nutton

This is my use for old knee highs and pantyhose without holes in the foot or lower leg area). Knee highs work just as they are. For pantyhose, I cut the panty part off and discard. I then take the leg part and use it to line my swimming pool’s skimmer basket. This keeps lots of fine dirt and hairs from going into the filter unit which cuts down both DE and on water usage in frequent cleaning of the filter. It also makes cleaning the basket easier as the hairs do not get tangled in the basket. My daughter works in a retirement home that requires its female employees to wear dresses/skirts, so she collects used pantyhose from her peers at work. I never have a lack of skimmer liners.  Karen W.

Here is my tip for old pantyhose. When I was a teenager in my decorator pillow and soft sculpture stage, I used to cut them up in smallish pieces and use them for stuffing. They worked quite well. My sister and I would cut them up and store them in paper grocery bags in our closet until we needed stuffing materials.  I really enjoy your newsletter!  Julie T

I am a gardener, so the old standby, I cut the legs crosswise to make loops which I loop together to tie tomato plants to the stake, or other plants, flowers, etc that need some support. I was unhappy throwing away the elastic waistband, and came up with this new tip. I cut the waistband off, and using the long pieces of scrap material from my sewing projects, I make hair scrunchies. My daughter has lots of thick hair, so I use the waistband as is for hers, and make a 31/2 inch wide strip, which I fold over the wrong way around the band, put in the machine and sew, adjusting as I go along, till I get to the end of the fabric. Now, it is simply a matter of turning the fabric to the right side, then tucking and sewing the opening, and I have produced a nearly free scrunchy. I loop the waistband in half for myself and my granddaughters, which makes a tighter circle. I adjust the width of fabric and length to make a variety of looks. Since they are so cheap, you can make many of them, and the girls enjoy combining two of them for a fuller look.

I was a waitress for over 12 years. Being on my feet required me to wear good support hose, but they were expensive. When I would get a run in one side of my hose, it would cut the runner leg off and paired it up a second one legged pair. I would be wearing two panty tops with a pair of perfectly good pair of hose to wear… me extra tummy support.   I also saved and wore runner hose to wear under pants. No one can see the runs but you still get the support and comfort of hose. JoAnn

This is for making recycled paper. You need:
wire coat hanger
a small tub (such as a Rubbermaid tub or a large bowl)
old paper: newspaper, card stock, construction paper

Directions:    a. Stretch the coat hanger into a square shape. Pull the pantyhose over than hanger so that it is taut and makes a tight "screen". Tie off the pantyhose at the corner and cut off what remains.  b. Fill the blender to the halfway point with water. Tear the paper into small strips and drop it into the blender. Blend the paper into a mushy pulp and blop it into your tub, which should already contain some water.  Blop at least one blender full of paper into the tub for each person who is doing this activity. (I hope you don’t mind my use of the English language, but I’ve done this several times, and it does blop.) c. Use your hands to mix the paper pulp through the water in the tub and make sure there aren’t large glops. d. One by one, have each person doing this activity take his or her pantyhose screen from the bottom of the tub up to the top, so that there is film of paper goop on the top of the screen. If the film seems REALLY thick, swish it back into the water and do it again. Do the same if it is not sufficiently covered.  e. Carefully allow the excess water to drip back into the tub, then find a  safe place to hang the hanger where it can finish drying (and it can drip).  Also, if you want to add a creative touch, you can drop pressed flower petals or glitter on the paper before it dries.  f. Once it is dry (a few hours at the least – overnight is safest), you can get the paper off by carefully stretching the pantyhose, starting at one corner and working to the other. And there you have  homemade, recycled  paper!

Empty Boxes

I store craft parts and things that need to be sorted in those nice heavy boxes with flaps that close tightly, Donna

I made a split level doll house using a cardboard box.  It had three rooms, a door, several windows and a chimney.  The back side was left open so my daughter could play with her dolls inside it.  I let her paint it and she then made furniture using wooden sticks.  Rebecca B.

Whenever I finish a box of laundry detergent, I throw it in the cabinet over my washer. When I have several, I make "sorters" I have used these both standing up as a series of boxes one atop the other or side to side to act as filing boxes or toy boxes (great for the little ones with their legos and plastic toys as they can use them to put their OWN things away).  Usually after I accumulate three or more of the same size, I cut off the lids, tape them tightly together with packing tape (leftover from our move two years ago and still going) and then cover them with wallpaper, Sunday comics, fabric or anything that is handy. The smaller ones are great for sewing patters, the larger for a temporary night stand (with a single large one next to it, lid intact, covered neatly in the same garage sale wallpaper, as a trash can) They are sturdy, especially when you have three or more. I still have a few from over two years ago when I first started making them. If you had good sturdy boxes, you could even spray paint then and use them more decoratively. Sarah L

I use empty cardboard flats to start flower seeds in the garden.  Flats are found in the soda pop section and in the canned pet food section of the grocery store — used for packaging and stacking canned goods. The store is usually glad to let you have them as is saves them from the task of bundling for recycling later. In the past I have used the plastic flats that plants are transported in to the commercial garden nursery. This was okay as a gopher deterrent but they were twice the surface area used as the cardboard thus twice  as likely to have some untransplanted seedlings left behind to permanently attach the plastic to the ground with their roots — for years!  Cardboard, on the other hand, because it is biodegradable, will disintegrate and leave no evidence that you didn’t transplant in a timely manner.

I bring home many medium to larger size boxes from  work, then go to a furniture maker who lets me take the pine wood scraps for our fireplace, bonfires, or camping use. The boxes stand neatly in the back of my van and allow us to fill with the scraps, and make tidy "walls" of boxes in the garage for storage, until needed

My family is so large, in order to keep the cost of Christmas spirit within an individual’s budget, we’ve resorted to drawing names when it comes to buying family Christmas presents. With this person in mind, I  locate a discarded paper box (not tough – I work for a large company and my department uses up 2-3 cartons a day). Paste old Christmas cards to all visible sides, including the lid. Cover it with contact paper. Inside I place all the Christmas presents I’ve purchased for my Christmas person. Everyone loves them. This idea can be applied to any event. In my case, the recipient of these boxes can use them to store Christmas ornaments, etc. Jeanni B

Take a sturdy cardboard box and turn it so the opening is at the top. From each of the two ends cut out a semi circle with the rounded part of the semi circle towards the bottom of the box. Cut the front and back flaps off the box. Now when you turn your box with the bottom side up, you have created a table which you can use to serve meals in bed or on the couch to the sick members of your family. You can decorate the box if you like. Cynthia

When my grandmother died several years ago, we cleaned out her small home and found boxes and boxes…. of boxes and boxes. She was the most frugal human I’ve ever known and I have learned more from her than you can imagine.  She threw NOTHING away. One tip I have learned is the use of empty boxes, as follows… As a veteran "mover", I have learned to use large empty boxes as slide-out drawers in my lower kitchen cabinets to separate and store appliances (food processor, blender, mixer, etc.) and bulk foods (flour, sugar, meal, etc.)  in a dust-free environment. I fold the lids of the boxes down inside the box to strengthen it, then put the appliance or food packages inside. I clearly label the end of the box for quick and easy reference. I try to get boxes deep enough to fit the entire depth of my cabinet, but if I cannot, I place another box behind it as a "stopper". Inside the "stopper" box, I store seldom-used items which I rarely need but cannot seem to part with.  The outside of this box should also be clearly labeled. As a side benefit, when moving day comes, all I have to do is pull the box out of the cabinet, fold the lids "up", tape them and I am ready to go! – Sharon D

I use empty cereal or similar shaped boxes to hold my magazines. Cut 2 to 3 inches diagonally from the bottom, up the front and back of the box on one side. I also use shoe boxes to store my daughters collectible cards, stickers and other miscellaneous items. REDOC

I keep all empty boxes to use again, maybe with some colorful wrapping paper on them, or I have wrapped the top and bottom separately.  Last night I used the solid bottom of a cardboard box for a cake "plate". I traced a dinner plate on the cardboard, cut it out and then covered it with aluminum foil. This was going to a Mission Work Site about 2 hrs. from the church and would not be returned. This idea can also be used to cut rectangular cake "plates". If the cake is too heavy, cut two pieces and tape them together.  Betty G.

I buy the Costco size box of garbage bags. When the box is empty I used it to store all my washed Ziploc bags. It has a diamond shape hole on one end so I just cram them in and pull one out whenever I need  one.  Kayte

Film Canisters

There is some question from our readers as the whether or not these are safe to use on any consumption product.  Please check with a professional before you try to re-use them for anything else other than what is listed on this page.

When my plants are finished blooming, I save the seeds in the canisters.  Vicki

My church collects empty film containers and empty prescription bottles (with labels torn off) and we send them to our missionary hospital in the Ivory Coast. They use them for dispensing their prescriptions, because they do not have enough money to purchase new containers.  Lori

I use film canisters to hold rolls of stamps from the post office.  I use scissors to cut a 1/8th inch slit down the side, insert roll of stamps with stamps coming through slot. Recap with lid and pull out as many stamps as you need.   Dana

A good toy for a small child can be made from used film canisters. This is probably appropriate from a few months before the first birthday, through the second year depending on how it is used. You will need a used coffee can or some other cylinder shaped container with a reusable lid. A whole the size and shape for a film canister to pass through is then cut in the lid. You should probably first start with a small number of film canisters. As the child gets older, he, or she, will probably like to have enough film canisters to fill the can, or as many as you have to pass on. One of the skills this teaches is putting a round object in a round whole, but it also covers in and out, empty and full, and picking up.  From: Jennifer

I have 6 uses of film canisters I would like to share:
1) Holds coins eg. for tolls, parking meters
2) I put shampoo in some and conditioner in others – labeling them and then donate to a Homeless Shelter along with a packet of combs.
3) Holds paperclips or tacks or stamps
4) I put my kids baby teeth in them
5) Take to the beach and put in little seashells with sand.
Love your column. I have learned a lot.  Jan

As a Girl Scout Leader, we love to use film canisters for First Aid Kits. You can add PVC pipe (a piece about 1" in length)
to the back of the canister with hot glue.  Then put on the front a plain white sticker/label. Draw a red cross to symbolize first aide. Insert band aids into the canister, antiseptic wipe, along with a sealed rubbing alcohol gauze. Also can put small amounts of Vaseline, lotion,  seal the cap, and you are ready for first aid.  Linda

My dad is a photographer & so I grew up with film canisters, using them for everything! Some ideas:
1) I use them to save change – a dollar in each canister (unless it’s my quarter canister)
2) I use them to mix paints
3) The lids can be used as checkers
4) My mom wrote numbers on one side of each lid & we practiced our multiplication tables by reaching into a bag & pulling out numbers
5) I used to play with them in the sandbox & in the bathtub
6) Fill with a little rice or fine pasta & glue the lids on (& decorate) for musical shakers
7) The seals are pretty good & they can be used to hold bath gel for travel (don’t fill too much, though)
8) I use them to hold things like tacks, small nails, screws, picture hooks, pen tips (as in pen &ink pen tips), paperclips
9) Used them for science fair projects (made a water wheel using the canisters screwed onto a wooden circle)
10) When I played "hospital" as a kid my mom taped paper around the outside & wrote "Prescription" on the outside ( put small things inside) and I pretended to prescribe medicine to my stuffed animal patients. At one point I had what I considered a whole pharmacy.    God Bless,   B

I use them to store straight pins, and also as traveling sewing kits: they hold safety pins, needles and some thread.  Cynthia

Here is a neat idea for a toy for kids. Take a balloon and cut off the top. Stretch it over the end of a film canister forming a drum. Use duct tape to hold the stretched balloon in place. Pluck the drum by pinching the rubber, pulling and then releasing. By varying the tightness of the balloon you can change the pitch and create an entire orchestra. Sandy

You’ve hit on my topic! Film canisters – and a scrap of felt, put a couple of needles in, wrap some thread around another recycled junk mail or small piece of cardboard – a couple of safety pins and buttons and you have the perfect travel size emergency sewing kit. Put one in your glove box in the car, your travel case, your purse, send one to college with the kids or if you work with kids, they can make them for Mother’s Day gifts or Christmas Gifts.

My craft kids have used film canisters several different seasons to decorate as not or candy cups for shut ins, the Women’s Club, Kiwanis, The Senior Nutrition program. Etc. When my oldest daughter was backpacking with Girl Scouts we were always looking for ways to lighten her pack and used MANY film canisters for everything from emergency first aid equipment to seasonings for her meals (not just s & p), pre-measured ice tea mix and so on.

I have also used film canisters in crafting in place of wooden spools when the spool was just going to be a part of a doll body or whatever. They make cute sitting angels, – use a small Styrofoam ball for the head or the lid from a milk bottle or such. Use your favorite media for hair yarn scraps from another project. gather a small piece of lace to use as the dress and embellish any way you choose.

If I have extra buttons that come with a special outfit – your guessed it – in the film canisters. Now – to mark these. The clear ones you can see through (they’re great for seed beads and such), the dark color ones can be marked with a file folder label, or, (dig in the trash)
cut your junk mail envelopes and write on them then tape to the outside of the canisters. By the way, my recycled film canisters have taken blue ribbons at the fair three different years so if you’ve always wanted to do a fair entry but couldn’t really afford a big project – just look for the craft section and recycling. God bless!  Al

One thing to do with old film canisters is to hot glue the lid to the top of the container standing up. Put two green pom-poms in the container and hot glue two eyes on the front of the top green pom-pom. You have Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. These can sell at a craft fair for a dollar or you can donate them to a school for the kindergarten class to do an art project to take home to their parent’s. Thanks, Kim

Blue Jeans

• Using them in quilts.  I’ve been buying using old jeans and flannel shirts and cutting 2-3 inch squares to piece together in a block/X pattern. I also use a 3rd remnant color- something that matches one of the lines in the flannel to tie together the squares. I vary the patterns but these are so cute. I use old mattress covers as the quilt lining and a solid colored sheet for the backing. Not only are the jeans saved from the trash but just about the whole quilt comes from it!!:) I’m making these for Christmas gifts. Who doesn’t wear jeans/flannel? Everyone loves these.  The flannel is so easy to cut out since the checked patterns are usually big enough that just cutting each opposite square out gives me the 2-3 inches needed. (look at an old shirt and you’ll know what I mean) I’m thinking of also making blue jean potholders the same way:)  Melanie

• My daughter and her friend bought a rectangular shaped container with a lid that lifts up and covered it in the blue jeans to make a toy box for her friend’s children.  They even left in the pockets so that pencils, etc. or small toys could be put in these.  It really looks cute and I could send a picture if you want one. Mary

• My favorite use of old blue jeans is the one I did a few years ago. I sewed a Bible cover out of the still strong parts, complete with a pocket from the jeans on the front for note cards and pens. I cut a piece of an old bandana and sewed it above the pocket to make it look like it was stuffed in the pocket. Ellen

• A favorite use for jeans is to cut off the top half just where the legs start, and sew a seam along the bottom , make handles out of the leg material, and use it for a tote bag. I’m making one of these right now. Ellen

• Cut off the legs, turn under the raw edges, and sew straight across the bottom.  Braid a long strap out of strips cut from the legs, and attach to each side at the waist.  Add Velcro to hold the "waist" closed, if you want, and you have a neat purse or tote bag.  

• If you have a loom, blue jeans legs cut into 2 inch strips make a great rug weft.  Denim strips can also be braided to make braided rugs.   

• Pieces of old jeans, especially those with pockets, can be pieced together for a great teen quilt, comforter, or throw pillows.  

• Pockets from old jeans can be added to nearly anything, including other articles of clothing.  They can be tacked to bulletin boards, glued to note books, or made into a small purse with the addition of a strap or handle.   

• Legs can be cut off and stuffed for neck pillows.  If the denim is soft and thin, the ends can be gathered and tied closed.  Otherwise, you will have to find a way to sew them shut by hand.  As denim weights vary, I’ve never come up with one way to do it that always works – you just have to experiment.   

• Fabric scraps from jeans can, of course, be used for all sorts of craft projects, and to patch other jeans!  Make iron-on patches with wonder-under, or other fabric bonding medium.

• I have used heavy denim from jeans legs to tar and patch roofs and stuff in cracks to stop drafts. I sure hope jeans never go out of style! Dawn

• Save them and after you have a pretty good pile cut them into manageable pieces (8×8 or 12×12 squares) and stitch them together to make a patchwork blanket. You will have to put batting in the middle and a contrast fabric (cotton or denim) on the back of your blanket. You can make one as small (lap blanket) or as large as you want, depending on how many pairs of jeans you have.

• You can patch some together into pieces and put grommets or a pocket rod on the top and make a curtain for a boys room or other area. 

• You can cut the legs off of the jeans and finish the edges with hem or bias tape and add the jean pockets and other fabric pockets to it and hang it on a dowel rod to store school supplies or any other odds and ends in it.

• Blue Jeans as an arm sling- when my 7 year old broke his arm I cut the top off a pair of denim overalls just below the waistline. The straps (as per usual) sat across the shoulders and gave support instead of the knotted and uncomfortable sling. I opened one side for the bad arm to go in and stitched up the bottom at a height that was comfortable for my son. My son wore regular blue jeans and this sling and it almost looked like he was wearing overalls. He liked the support and he liked the jean sling.

• I have had a lot of fun and success in reusing the lower legs of worn out or outgrown blue jeans.  I cut below the knee (or hole in the knee) and turn the pant leg inside out.  I then sew across the cut edge (knee end) to make a tube.  Next, I "mitre" the ends by laying the seam up and sewing a triangle across each end.  I then turn the leg right side out.  Voila!– a gift bag that will stand upright.  I have used these for all kinds, shapes and sizes of gifts. I sometimes stuff the bags with tissue paper or a bandana and leave them open or tie them with ribbon, rope, or bandanas. The top can be used with the hem showing, or folded down in a cuff. Being from Texas, it is a fun way to send a part of me along with the gift. K. Reinbold

• Use them to patch other blue jeans. The back of the legs is usually pretty good to use for patching.

• Use the backs of the legs that aren’t badly worn to make a quilt in the rail fence design which is long strips (about 4 inches wide and 12 inches long, sew 4 of these together to make a block. Make blocks for as big a quilt as you want. When laying them out for the quilt top, lay one lengthwise and the next crosswise to make a stair step type design alternating each row.

• Another quilt idea is to stitch strips together with the seam on the outside, not inside. Once it is washed the seams will fray and it is quite decorative and you don’t need a backing on this.

More ideas for Blue Jeans

Blue Jeans – Part 2

• Cut them into shapes and sew them together either patchwork or crazy quilt style and use for pillows, cushion covers, window valances, very heavy bed covers 

• Sew just above the crotch, put a belt/scarf/rope through the belt loops, add web or denim handles, and use as a tote* (I’ve done this for my pre-K’er and Kindergartner – they need large, open tote-style book bags – they wash well and last a long time!)

• Sew on a belt loop and wear it on your belt for change; tack (glue, staple, pin) it onto a bulletin board to hold pens, pencils – whatever; glue it onto a binder (plain or fabric covered) for a pencil pouch*

• Cut off a leg, hem the cut end, stuff with a pillow or fiberfill, tie ends – large neck roll*

• I plan to make valances and throw pillows for my boys bedroom (it will be a sort of western style room). (All of these ideas were sent in by Kim M.)

• My favorite use of old blue jeans is the one I did a few years ago. I sewed a Bible cover out of the still strong parts, complete with a pocket from the jeans on the front for note cards and pens. I cut a piece of an old bandana and sewed it above the pocket to make it look like it was stuffed in the pocket. Ellen

• Use the top portion as an apron – cut off the legs, leaving enough material to cover a person’s thighs.  Separate the front from the back part of the jeans to form a mini apron.  Finish the raw edges & decorate.  (Again, you could use fabric paints, sewing novelties, patches, etc.) Use some of the blue jean material from the legs to make your apron strings – sew strings on and you’re ready to cook!

• Use the legs that are left over from the above project, using about 18" or so of material.  Sew the bottom of one leg closed.  Use jean material or rope & make a drawstring at the top hole.  Decorate if you wish.  These bags can be used to hold your plastic grocery bags – you’d be surprised how many of those things will fit in here!  You can also use these as a general carry all for whatever you need! Melissa

• If the knees are worn out, I cut the jeans off at the knees.  I sew up the bottom hem (like a paper bag bottom) to make a flat bottom on it.  I then sew a casing in the top and thread a draw string through.  I sew on a strap (I used straps I had cut off of old diaper bags or backpacks) and viola’  –  a water bottle holder – save a 1 liter bottle from a soda or juice – and use for water bottles.  This REALLY saves money on drinks when going places like the zoo, amusement parks, etc.    Once again, fabric paint is the decoration of choice.  Lorraine

• Clothespin holder : Take an old pair of blue jeans and cut off the legs.  Sew the legs completely shut and any holes, leaving the waist alone. Cut a canvas belt or other long object into two strips. Now, sew them like suspenders to the jeans. Hang this on a coat hanger and you have a bag to hang on your clothesline to put the pins in. You may want to sew the top of all the strapping together under the hanger to keep it from falling off. Dawn

• I have two ideas for old blue jeans:
    1)  When I was in college, I took a number of pairs of old jeans (different shades of blue and even a striped pair), and cut them up into approximately 5" squares.  I "zigzag" stitched around the edges of each to help prevent too much fraying, then sewed a bunch of them together (alternating dark navy w/ light blue or striped fabric) to form one side of a laundry sack (it was too big to call a mere "bag"!).  For the other side of the sack, I sewed rectangular patches together of one type of denim with the wrong side showing for a different look (sew wrong sides together).  On that side I sewed on some pockets, appliques, etc. for a decorative touch.  I sewed belt loops around the top of the sack, and put a rope through them for a drawstring. I then took some other denim to make nice, wide, sturdy carrying handles.  It was great to be able to fit all of my laundry in the sack at once, since I had a few flights of stairs to go up/down to get to the dorm’s laundry room. I got so many compliments on my laundry sack, and it lasted all 4 years nicely, even with all the trips  between home and college!!  In fact, I still have it 5 years later!!

    2) Use it as a "boppy" pillow (I think that’s what they are called) to help support a baby while he or she works on learning how to sit up on his/her own.  The boppy’s in stores cost over $20 and are basically a horseshoe shaped pillow.  Take a pair of jeans, cut the legs off to the desired length, sew across the bottom, stuff with batting or old pantyhose (if you have a huge stash of old ones!), then sew across the top.  The baby can sit in the crotch area to have just that little bit of extra support while learning to balance, and then will have some cushion if he/ she tips over!  Rebecca

• Thanks for the great blue jeans recycle ideas. A thrift store (in a mountain-resort-town N of us) gives away bags of free clothes. I got several bags recently & went through them. They contained baby clothes (to wash & give to a new Mom) other clothes & lots of great blue jeans. Some of the jeans had beautiful designer pockets. I can’t wait to do some of your great blue jeans projects. Annjette

Using Bread Tabs

My dear frugal husband uses the bread clips as a (free) guitar pick — he says they work better than store-made :)

They are good for scraping off stuck on bits of muck from pans without damaging the finish.

Plastic Bread Tabs are good for hooking a pair of socks together. Just clip over the cuff of the socks & voila!: sock clips! Or hose clips to hang a few drying pairs to a metal coat hanger.  They can be painted or just left as is to make toy ear clips for young girls or for artsy older ones wanting something a little different in ear wear.  They can make book marks especially . if you want to clip a few pages together.

When I was teaching elementary school we used the plastic closers from bread wrappers for "counters" for the first graders for their math class. It worked very well! Kay

I use them to hold rubber bands together, keeps them from scattering out in the drawer. Kristie

We collect these and put them in a small box, and the younger children will sit for hours and sort them by shape or size or color. Cynthia

When I taught preschool I discovered that the plastic tabs work great on bulletin board displays as the center of eyes, especially the big ones off of plastic potato sacks. Use a contrasting color oval or circle (depending on the desired expression) for the "ball", attach the plastic tab as the center, and top it off with big black eyelashes. Real cool for making pretend animals. Debbie

I spray paint them first (to match the color of (for example) my Christmas tree) and then use them to hang my Christmas lights! 

I save & use the small plastic tabs for scraping paint from windows if I happen to go past the tape. I also use them to scrape on surfaces I wouldn’t normally use a razor blade to prevent scratching. They’re readily available & disposable.

This isn’t exactly a new way to use them… but, I do recycle them.  I use them to tie up opened bags of rice, instant mashed potatoes, frozen veggies, etc. I keep a collection in a recycled plastic muffin paper container next to my reused zip locs.  Jennifer

Save the bread tabs to use as bingo chips.  I use them in my classroom and it’s a good example of reduce/reuse as well as a bingo piece that other over-the-shoulder bingo players can’t see through.  Amy

I use one at the end of a roll of tape to fine the end of the tape when I use it the next time. Sue

The best tip I have for these is also for organization. 

We buy food in bulk when on sale.  However it can be hard to keep track of what you’ve got and what you don’t. To use the bread tags:

Cut a piece of plywood about two feet square.  Place nails in even rows across & down the board. (On 2 foot board – place up to 24 nails each way). LABEL EACH ROW – BOTH ACROSS & DOWN.  Permanent black felt works best. Across rows for vegetables, one – fruit, one – macaroni, etc.   Going down the fruit row – 1 nail – pears, 1 – peaches, etc.

NOW for the bread tags – I give each color a number value: Blue 1, Green 5, Yellow 10 etc.

If I have 3 tins of beans – there are 3 blue tags on the nail.   have 7 tins of pears – there is one green & 2 blue. 

I also make sure that the 10 values are at the back, the 1 five value next and the one values at the front.

(Makes it easy to check what you have – as well as changing the tags when you take a can) On the bottom nails – the extra tags go – as well as the tags that are removed EACH time a tin is used & added EACH time tins are added.   This does take a little set up.  But once it’s done the upkeep is minimal – and it takes only a few seconds to see if you should be taking advantage of the sale on peas, or whether you’re up to a seven year supply already.

This system can also be used for bathroom supplies, school supplies, etc. etc.