How To Reuse, Redistribute & Recycle Your Rubbish

  • Updated April 2021

With all the publicity about cutting down on plastic use, many people are now looking to go further to reduce throw away items and even work towards zero waste. We are all pretty adept at recycling our rubbish now but how many of you reuse, repurpose or redistribute your rubbish?

Households, schools and workplaces generate so much waste but much of it can be reused by others. The old saying “one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure” is so true and now there are so many easy ways to give away your rubbish.

Before you throw away all your household waste, have a clear out, or buy anything new,  have a read and take on board some of these ideas.

Specific sites like Freegle and Freecycle have been running a long time but now there are Marketplace and many local Free and For Sale groups on Facebook* where you can advertise things that you’d normally throw away and someone will come and collect it. I try to give away as much as possible as it not only cuts waste and landfill but someone else will benefit.

* just search Free, Buy & Sell or For Sale in (……. your town) in the Facebook search bar, join group then post as a Selling ad with 0 as the price.

Many items will be claimed by crafters, childminders, pre-schools, infant schools, brownie/scout groups, homeless shelters, pet refuge, other charities, etc. You can always contact these groups direct if you’d rather not have someone collect from your home.

Here are some things that are very popular giveaways:

photo of several different sized jars in a cupboard with different dried foods in them to show how you can reuse, redistribute and recycled your rubbish
Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

Fabric Scraps, wool and ribbons including those from Christmas crackers – crafters and schools.

Sweet wrappers – make an ecobrick or offer cellophane to crafters.

Empty jars –for jam making, food storage, crafts and school fete games.

Empty wine bottles – crafters will decoupage and make bistro candles.

Gift bags/boxes – reuse next year or offer to schools or community groups.

Christmas & birthday cards –  collage and making gift tags.

Or why not have a go at upcycling an old framed painting. You may find that some larger birthday and Christmas cards would be suitable.

christmas card with a snowy woodland scene that has been upcycled with graffiti style art on the tree, sleigh and farmhouse. The tree has disposable face coverings and trainers hanging off the
artwork with kind permission by DS Art

Used jiffy bags, small boxes and packing materials – Ebay sellers.

Shoe boxes – for Christmas charity appeals and home storage.

Heavy duty boxes and bubble wrap – people moving home.

photo of tyres and waste at a rubbish tip with the text How to reuse, redistribute and repurpose your rubbish at tea and cake for the soul
Save for later

Old sleeping bags, duvets and pillows – for homeless people and pets.

Old Towels, cushions and sheets – for pets and schools.

Old, even ripped, clothes, sheets and textiles – most charity shops have a RAG BAG where they sell by weight for cash.

Used stamps, baby wipe packs, milk bottle lids, plastic labels, spray triggers and coffee pods – some charities collect to exchange for cash via the TerraCycle scheme.

Some Superdrug pharmacies have joined Terracycle to recycle the blisterpack wrapping that many tablets come in. This is great news for those who take lots of medication. Similarly many pharmacies can recycle empty inhaler canisters, and all pharmacies will dispose of unused medication.

Old reading glasses/spectacles – many opticians collect these to send abroad. You can also donate them to your local Lions and Rotary clubs.

Old bras – some charities collect to send to 3rd world countries or recycle if they are not in wearable condition.

Saucepans – schools and nurseries can use them in their mud kitchens or outdoor music stage. Or why not put them in your garden with rocks in for frogs.

saucepans in a garden with water and frogs in
photo credit Carla Carlita

Computers, laptops and computer parts – organisations such as The Lions and Rotary Clubs, as well as individuals will take them to update and put together to give to needy families, especially in the current climate where more people are working and studying at home.

Bottle lids, kitchen roll inners, some food boxes – junk modelling for children.

Empty punnets and ice cream tubs – for storage, collecting and junk modelling in schools.

Newspapers and shredded paper – vets, pet shops and home are always looking out for these for their pets, and schools often want them for messy play and crafts.

Books – for rereading and book folding (hardback).

Comics – for reading in schools and decoupage.

Sheet music, maps, atlases, football programmes, gig flyers – for parcel wrapping, feature wall collage and furniture decoupage.

Old diaries, notebooks (even if pages are missing), envelopes (the prepaid sort in junk mail), postcards, stationery, any paper or card – for mark making in schools and pre-schools.

Incomplete jigsaws – crafting and school art.

Pallets and wood scraps – make planters, fences, outdoor bars, etc.

Partly used paint and tester pots – decorating smaller items or feature walls.

Old mirrors and tiles, even if broken – crafters.

Old vinyl records – to make art, bowls, bags, clocks.

Parts of candle – will be remelted to make new candles.

Out of date bandages can be used by preschools and infant schools for role play doctors and vets.

Tumble dryer lint – can be used as an open fire lighter.

Mismatched cups, saucers and plates – for vintage tea parties and to make candle cups.

photos of a vintage tea cup on top of a pile of old books alongside a pair of spectacles. Read this post to find out how to reuse, redistribute and recycle all these items
Books, teacups and spectacles can all be reused and repurposed by others. Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

In fact, pretty much anything that you are throwing away is worth advertising (bar actual waste and rubbish). There are people out there with great imaginations who will make something fantastic out of your junk. I just love to see things get a new home and some reuse, especially when people show all the clever things they make from your rubbish.

Do you have any more ideas for repurposing your rubbish? If so please leave your suggestions below in the comments and I will add them to the feature.

You might also like to read my posts on other ways to reuse or redistribute your rubbish:

How to Survive a Car Boot Sale
Ecobricks – How to Reuse Waste Plastic 
How to Make Art and Upcycle your Music Memorabilia

or look at more in  Arts, Crafts, Upcycling & Eco Issues.


20 thoughts on “How To Reuse, Redistribute & Recycle Your Rubbish

  1. When we moved house I tried using Facebook groups to giveaway, not sell, giveaway some furniture which was all in fantastic condition. People took the mick! They wanted it delivered, 3 towns over free of charge and said they were coming to collect it and didn’t. Ugh. I ended up using Freecycle and made many people happy.
    I hadn’t thought of recycling most of the things you mentioned. Fab ideas! x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hadn’t thought of most of the recycle ideas on this list. I will have to try to incorporate more of them in our lives — except that saucepan/frog one! We have enough frogs wandering around our neighborhood — I run every time! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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