Creative Reuse: See your discards in a new light.

Posted on June 21, 2013 in Press | Comments Off on Creative Reuse: See your discards in a new light.

A brochure from the County of San Mateo, Recycle Works featuring the work of the Goddess of Garbage.
One Person’s Trash is Another Person’s Treasure

      Every day, the average American throws away about 4 pounds of trash. Creative reuse is about finding creative solutions to our waste problem today, for a better Earth tomorrow.


Some things that can be reused:

      Bags, bottlecaps, boxes, calendars, CDs, clothing, doors, dry cleaner bags, egg cartons, film canisters, gift wrap, glasses, keys, lunchboxes, newspaper, oil, old letterhead,’ pantyhose, plastic containers, ribbons, tires, toilet paper cores, window screens, wire…




Some things that can be created:

      Birdfeeders, candle holders, chairs, clocks, coasters, desks, garden accessories, gift wrap, home d6cor, jewelry boxes, kaleidoscopes, lamps, organizers, ornaments, packing material, pooper scoopers, puzzles, science projects, sculptures, vases…

Keep potential reusables out of the landfill, find materials in your “junk” drawer or packrat pile, check out garage & salvage sales and visit the Bay Area’s reuse centers for an endless variety of supplies and project ideas.

Refuse Centers

Open to the Public:
East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse
6713 San Pablo Ave.
Oakland, CA (510) 547-6470
home. earthlink. net/~reusedepot/For Teachers & Community Groups:
RAFT – Resource Area for Teachers
1355 Ridder Park Drive
San Jose, CA (408) 451-1420
(membership required)SCRAP – Scroungers’ Center for Reusable Art Parts
801 Toland at Newcomb
San Francisco, CA (415) 647-1746 of surplus and other items from your business or home may be accepted by reuse centers. 
Other Source Materials

CAIMAX – the California Materials Exchange House Building Supply
1955 Pulgas Avenue
East Palo Alto, CA (650) 328-8731

Don’t forget to search through flea markets, thrift stores and your garage!




Get Creative Online!

County of San Mateo RecycleWorks Creative Reuse web page:
Goddess of Garbage: Learn to make the cover art project at this site.

100’s of Easy Reuse Ideas:

REDO: Reuse Development Organization

Learning With Leftovers




Books on Creative Reuse

Building with junk … and- other Great Stuff!
by Jim Broadstreet (Loompanics Unlimited)Choose to ReuseBR> by Nikki and David Goldbeck (Ceres Press 1995)

Reuse Repair Recycle: A Mine of Creative Ideas for Thrifty Living
by Jan McHarry (Gaia Books Limited)


Project: Whimsical Magazine Envelopes

Step 1: Pick a magazine page. Cut a total of 2 inches off the top and/or bottom to form a square sheet.
Step 2: Place the sheet face down. Fold one corner up, almost folding the sheet in half (within 1-2 inches).
Step 3: Fold sides in about 1 inch away from first fold (step 2), forming 90 degree angles. Make sure the sides are high enough for your letter.
Step 4: Use a glue stick to glue side flaps in place. Be sure not to glue the inside shut!

Helpful hints for foolproof mailing, etc:

      • Use a self-adhesive stamp
      • Write addresses on mailing labels
      • Seal with clear tape or glue stick
      • Use calendar pages to make a bigger envelope


A Few Simple Reuse Ideas

Plastic Grocery Bags

      • Use as filler for pillows, shipping boxes and pouf valances.
      • Use instead of a pooper scooper.
      • Take them back to reuse at the store.

Plastic Containers-Butter, berries, etc.

      • Use plastic tubs as cereal bowls.
      • Use to store leftovers.
      • Use as a water or food dish for pets.
      • Use to store cotton balls, sugar, etc.
      • Use as a flowerpot or colander – poke holes in butter or yogurt tubs.

Deodorant Tubes

      • Use for a small first aid or sewing kit
      • Use as a travel case for crayons.
      • Hide money and valuables in it.

Compact Discs

      • Use as coasters.
      • Hang from fruit trees to keep birds away.
      • Place pillar or votive candles on them, shiny side up.


      • Use to clean shoes, mechanical and auto parts, coffee makers, bathroom tiles, etc.

Potato Chip Bags

      • Wash and cut to make shiny bows, wrapping paper or ribbon.

These ideas, project instructions and more are listed online at RainForest/5002/index.html.