15 things you never need to buy again

With a little creativity and planning, it's easy to find things on our shopping list that we don't really need to buy. It's not that we don't need them, it's just that they're actually quite easy to make from things we already have at home. Taking a few minutes to make things from repurposed materials is not only great for the environment, it helps you save money as well. Here are a few examples...

1. Christmas calendar

Using toilet paper rolls is only one of many ways you can make your own unique Christmas calendar. You can make a new one each year or reuse them again and again. The great thing is: you have complete control over the goodies it's filled with!


2. Snack containers

Cut a Tetra Pak so that all four sides have a semicircle shape at the top. Now sew a button onto one of the semicircles and attach a string to the adjacent semicircle. Fold the empty sides in and then fold the button and string sides over them. Wrap the string around the button and the container is closed. It's perfect for storing snacks like nuts, fruit slices and veggies. The Tetra Pak lining makes sure that it doesn't get soggy and you can actually wash it out and use it over and over again.

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3. Soap dispenser

If you have an attractive jar and the pump from an old package of liquid soap, you can make a stylish soap dispenser. Cut a hole in the jar lid and secure the pump with silicon. If the tube on the pump is too long, simply cut it to size. Now when it's empty you can buy soap refills instead of a whole new dispenser. That's a lot less plastic!

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4. Bags for smartphones and tablets

If you have some basic sewing skills, bags and protective covers for mobile devices are actually quite easy to make using a bit of cotton, felt or leather. An even simpler option is to use bubble wrap and some colorful tape. And with a little ingenuity, even old books can be transformed into protective cases.


5. Air freshener

Coffee is great for neutralizing odors. Simply place a few bowlfuls of ground coffee or whole coffee beans around your home and enjoy the pleasant scent. You can also use the peels of citrus fruits if you prefer.

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe grinds

6. All purpose cleaner

Fill a jar with orange peels and vinegar. Place the jar in a dark place for two to four weeks. When the mix is ready, use a strainer to remove the orange peel — the citrusy vinegar is what you want. You can use this to clean most surfaces in your home, but keep it away from painted or varnished surfaces.

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7. Padded envelopes

It's hard to know what to do with these things when they arrive in the mail and have been emptied of their contents. Do they go in the paper recycling? What about the bubble wrap? That's plastic, so should I put it in the plastic recycling? There's actually a simple solution for this dilemma: reuse them! Just remove or cover the old address info and add your own. Money saved!

114/365 - Post

8. Pot scrubbers

Lots of fruit is packaged in plastic netting that gets thrown out as soon we get home from the supermarket. But next time, try putting it to good use by folding a bunch of them up and tying the middle with string. Now cut off each end and fluff them out a bit to make your own homemade pot scrubber.

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9. Bookmarks and gift tags

We all have lots of old things made of paper lying around the house. Who needs a map when almost everyone has a phone with GPS these days? Instead of throwing these things out, cut them into unique bookmarks or gift tags.


10. Cool packs

All you need are some resealable freezer bags and some dishwashing detergent or corn syrup. Fill the bag with your chosen fluid and put it in the freezer. The detergent or syrup will freeze but won't become completely solid and you can use them again and again.


11. Notepads

This one is simple: keep all the paper you would normally recycle and cut it into small, manageable, notepad-sized sheets. Now you don't have to waster money on notepads. The forest will thank you!

'198 Ways' notes

12. Salad dressing

No matter what kind of salad dressing you prefer, chances are you can make it at home quickly and easily. Make sure to have the basics such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, white vinegar and spices. The rest is up to you and you can have a lot of fun experimenting with different flavor combinations. But if you decide to add cream, yogurt or tomato paste, be sure to keep it refrigerated between meals.

Oil and friends

13. Furniture pads

Making your own furniture pads out of felt or foam rubber can be a lot less expensive than buying premade ones. You can also save even more money by cutting old flip-flops to size.

Flip flops at ease

14. Lighters

Lighters are expensive and the disposable kind are an environmental nightmare. So instead of buying them, keep an eye out at restaurants and cafés for complimentary matchbooks. Stick a few in your pocket every chance you get and you'll never need to buy a lighter again!


15. Magazine rack

We all have things lying around the house that need a special place. Magazines are a great example. To keep them organized in one place you can make a simple holder using an empty cereal box. Simply cut it open on an angle and decorate it with some fancy paper. You can also apply this principle to many other odds and ends. Jars, cans and boxes can be transformed into attractive holders for almost anything you can imagine. A quick internet search can be a great way to find inspiration.


There are lots of ways to save money and be a bit more friendly to the environment at the same time. Sometimes all we need to do is take a second look at something before we throw it away. We'll often see that this "trash" actually has a lot of potential and can be transformed into something useful and beautiful. Try it out!


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