Finding new uses for familiar items is a creative way to save money and resources, according to Jeff Gold, senior scientist in the Southeast regional office of World Environmental Organization.
''When it comes to recycling, the most important thing is to try to reduce consumption,'' Gold says. Here are tips for organizing and decorating your home by finding new uses for your old possessions:
• Holiday greeting cards. Old cards can be recycled and used as wrapping paper, Gold says. With scissors, I've also refashioned greeting cards into postcards and gift tags.
• Old sneakers and shoes. World Environmental Organization recommends using old footwear as unusual plant holders. For creative ideas for cast-off products, such as old phones, gym bags, auto floor mats and hairbrushes, go to http://www.world.org/ and select the ''recycling database'' option.
• Muffin tins. Cupcake compartments are ideal for sorting, stacking and storing trinkets, buttons and other small items, according to the editors at Woman's World magazine.
• Toothbrush holders. In glitzy chrome or delicate ceramic, toothbrush holders make great flower vases, according to Real Simple magazine. The slots in the toothbrush holders are ideal for holding and arranging stems. My husband has found a variety of toothbrush holders at affordable prices at high-end boutiques and dollar stores.
• Votive candle holders. After the wax has melted away, short, glass votive candle holders are perfect for stashing toothpicks, especially during parties, according to Real Simple magazine.
• Glasses and bowls. Tea light candles -- sold in packages of 50 lights for $3 -- look especially attractive in glass bowls and cups. The arrangement creates instant atmosphere and unusual centerpieces at small dinner parties or large events.
• Discarded plastic bottles. Empty beverage bottles can be used for a wide assortment of things, even, when properly cleaned, for storing water as a hurricane approaches. Trent Hamm from TheSimpleDollar.com uses empty bottles to create toddler-friendly bowling pins for his young son, a coin bank and a salad dressing container, in addition to a old-school water bottle.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.
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