When it comes to making eco-friendly choices in our lives, we’ve always heard that we should “reduce, reuse, and recycle!” But in my experience, especially back when I had all my kids at home, the “reduce” part of that maxim was the hardest to achieve.
My kids constantly threatened to eat us out of house and home (okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration), so cutting back wasn’t really an option when it came to certain types of containers. So I ended up focusing my energy on “reuse” instead, and that skill has served me well over the years.
I’ve discovered all sorts of ways to reuse and repurpose different types of plastic containers. (I consider it a point of pride, even if it’s not a very marketable skill!) The other day, I was reminiscing about some of my favorite repurposed containers, and I thought to myself, “Why not write a post about it?”
So that’s exactly what I did. I’ve put together a list of my top 9 containers to repurpose, along with my favorite ways to use them. I also included a few bonus ideas of other things you can do with them to help inspire your own repurposing efforts at home! 🙂
The 9 Best Containers To Keep And Repurpose
1. Parmesan Cheese Shakers
While the container itself is useful enough, it’s really the lid on the Parmesan cheese container that earns it a place on this list! An old Parmesan cheese shaker is perfect for storing anything you might want to distribute by shaking or sprinkling, such as cornstarch, powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, baking soda, etc.
The other side of the lid usually has a larger opening that can also come in handy. You can use it to dispense kids’ snacks—or your own snacks for that matter. 😉 (And did you know that the lid from a Parmesan cheese shaker can fit onto a regular mouth mason jar? It’s true!)
2. Baby Wipes Boxes
Baby wipes boxes are an extremely versatile container to have on hand, and I use one to store my reusable fabric softener sheets. The box keeps them nice and tidy and the lid helps seal in the scent so they don’t need to be refreshed quite as often.
The one drawback I’ve found with these containers is that their labels can be downright impossible to remove. So if the label bothers you, I’d recommend covering it up some scrapbook paper or washi tape rather than trying to remove it.
3. Large Yogurt Containers
Whether they were originally filled with yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, or something else, plastic tubs are great for repurposing! My favorite way to use them for gifting homemade ice cream to friends and family, but I usually take the time to remove the ink print from the outside of the container first to make it look a bit nicer.
To remove the ink, just pour some rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover onto a cotton ball and wipe the printed areas. You may need to use a few cotton balls to get all the ink off, but pretty soon you’ll have a clean container! Wash it with soapy water and it’ll be ready to use.
4. Ice Cream Pails
I find it virtually impossible to throw these versatile plastic buckets away! They’re really useful for corralling collections of items like seasonal cookies cutters and small toys. You can also fill them with soapy water when tackling cleaning jobs around the house.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that these buckets have proven highly useful as vomit receptacles. When my kids were much younger and much more vomit-prone, I would bring one along on every car ride and I kept one under my kids’ beds for those unpredictable late-night episodes. These pails saved me a lot of unfortunate cleanup during those years!
5. Gum/Mint Containers
There are so many great uses for gum and mint containers. Gum containers are a bit bigger, so they’re great for storing craft supplies, snacks, or even loose change.
Smaller mint containers are handy for corralling paper clips, emergency sewing supplies, or notoriously easy-to-lose hair accessories like bobby pins! The possibilities are practically endless.
6. Tin Cans
No decent list about repurposed containers could exclude the good old tin can! You can use them as pencil holders, small vases for flowers, watering cans for your houseplants, or you can make one of those old school “telephones” by threading a length of string or yarn through the bottom of two cans.
If you intend for your can to be out on a desk or table somewhere, you can dress up the outside with washi tape or scrapbook paper.
7. Plastic Milk Jugs
Plastic milk jugs always come in handy as a watering can in a pinch, but my favorite way to repurpose them is as a giant ice pack. Just fill a milk jug with water until it is nearly full, but not quite. (The extra space will accommodate the expansion of the water as it freezes.)
Screw the cap on and throw the milk jug in the freezer until it’s frozen solid. The milk jug “ice pack” is great for camping, picnics, and more! I often use one for trips to Costco, since the closest Costco to us is 30 minutes away. So I bring a cooler and my milk jug “ice pack” to keep the cold/frozen foods cold until we get back home.
8. Stackable Tackle Box Jars
I love finding new uses for ordinary things you can find in any grocery store. 🙂 I found these stackable tackle box jars in the camping and fishing aisle quite by accident, and I just love them! They are great for storing small amounts of things in your purse or car, like ointment, pills, or lotion.
9. Juice Bottles
Empty juice bottles are my container of choice for storing my homemade liquid laundry detergent. They’re the perfect size, and it’s nice to be able to reuse such a big container instead of just throwing it out. You can learn how to make my homemade liquid laundry detergent here.
What’s your favorite type of container to reuse, and what do you use it for?