Items you throw away every day that you can reuse or recycle

This year I have partnered with IKEA to share fun ideas on how you can live a more sustainable life. All opinions are my own. 

Have you wanted to reduce the amount of waste you create every week, but don’t have a lot of time or space to manage the excess?

As someone who loves a clutter-free home, I’m often tempted to throw away anything that I can to keep my house in order. However, I want to be conscious of the environment and repurpose and recycle whenever possible.

How to reuse everyday items in your home.

The key for me is to find systems to help you stay organized while being resourceful. Over the years I’ve come up with several ways to recycle and reuse without filling my house with empty toilet paper rolls and cereal boxes.

IKEA is my favorite place for finding inexpensive items to help keep my home organized. They are stylish, easy to assemble, and are great space savers in the home. Their flat packaging makes them easy to transport home and usually I have my purchases assembled and in use by the end of the day.

In this post you’ll find some of my helpful tips when it comes to reducing waste. These are five items you are probably throwing away, that you could be reusing in your home.


Have you ever tried making your own compost bin? You can make a basic one out of a large plastic trash can with a lid. Before the items make it to the compost bin outside, this cute miniature KNODD can works perfect under the sink in the kitchen to hold items for composting.

How to compost in small spaces

Line the can with a paper bag (recycled from the grocery store) to make clean up easier and instead of scraping food off the plate into the garbage or disposal you can scrape it right into the can under your sink. Once the can is full dump it into the larger compost bin in the yard. Remember to never compost meat or fats.

Dryer sheets

I love they way dryer sheets make my clothes feel, but it seems very wasteful to use them once and throw away. Dryer sheets have a long life after they’ve made your clothes less static-y so save them to use around the home.

My favorite use is to place the used dryer sheet in a pan that has baked-on food. Fill the pan with water and add a used dryer sheet. Let it soak over night and the next morning the baked on food will come right off.

You can also use dryer sheets to dust blinds, keep drawers smelling fresh, and de-stinkify smelly tennis shoes.

how to reuse and recycle old dryer sheets

Store used dryer sheets in a cute container like the FRYCKEN basket in the laundry room or kitchen.


In our house towels go from pristine “guest bathroom condition” to “clean up the dog’s mess condition” in a less than a year. Instead of throwing away our frayed towels I reuse them as cleaning rags around the house.

how to reuse towels around the house to reduce paper waste

I cut large towels in half or thirds for smaller rags and store in OBSERVATÖR bins in the laundry room or kitchen for easy access. Instead of grabbing a paper towel to clean (or clean up a mess) I use a rag which can be easily washed and reused. I keep a bin next to the washer for dirty rags and throw them into the laundry every few days.

How to reduce and reuse every day items in your home.

Glass jars

Instead of throwing away empty glass jars (think spaghetti sauce or pickles) you can repurpose them all around the house. Glass jars are so trendy right now and there are so many ways you can reuse them. Here are some of my favorite ways to reuse glass jars.

ideas for reusing mason jars

• Vase
• Catch all for the laundry room
• Leftovers
• Dry goods
• Drinking glasses
• Craft projects
• Bathroom storage

Store glass jars in a rustic pine KNAGGLIG box on an open shelf or in a cabinet for easy access.

How to compost in small spaces


Paper is easy to recycle with your community program, but it’s also something you can reuse in your home.

Did you know that you can use shredded paper as bedding for your plants? Place a layer of shredded paper in your flower beds and cover with a thin layer of mulch. You’ll save money on mulch and the paper will decompose and fertilize your garden.

how to recycle shredded paper

I keep paper trash in a separate KNODD bin in my office so it doesn’t get contaminated with other garbage. Once a month I shred it and reuse it.

how to reuse shredded paper

The next time you are tempted to throw something away, think about how it can be reused instead. Many times reusing a household item is not only the most sustainable option, it’s a money saving option too!

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Gardener’s Hand Scrub

The following is a guest post from Merissa from

Do you hear it? The birds have begun their yearly song…spring has arrived! On our little farm, this is a time of great preparation. I’ve started working on some simple meal plans that will get us through the summer when it’s too hot to want to cook much and when we are too busy to go to town often for groceries.

I’ve already planted my seedling starts and in just a few weeks it will be warm enough here in South Dakota to plant them outside in my garden.

I love to garden. It’s been my passion for many years to use my garden to provide as much food as I possibly can for my family. But of course, we all know that it’s not easy or clean work! We not only have a garden to sustain ourselves but we also plant extras to preserve food for winter and to sell at the local farmer’s market. By the end of the day I’m tired and full of dirt.

The signs of a good gardener right?!


That’s when I pull out my jar of Gardener’s Hand Scrub to clean and freshen up. It’s so simple to make with just a few basic ingredients! Today I’m sharing the recipe with you so that you can enjoy using it this summer just as much as I do.

Gardener’s Hand Scrub


  • 1 cup sugar (white or brown will work)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  •  ½ cup coconut oil
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil


  • In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and the salt.
  • In another bowl, melt the coconut oil until it’s liquid. (Or you can stick it in the microwave for a few seconds.)
  • Pour the coconut oil over the sugar mixture and mix all the ingredients together until the sugar is thoroughly coated.
  • Add a few drops of the tea tree essential oil and give the mixture another stir to incorporate it throughout, then pour the scrub into a container or jar that can hold at least 2 cups.

Store in your bathroom or wherever where you regularly wash your hands after coming in from outside.

The sugar and salt will scrub any garden goo from your hands.


The coconut oil helps to rehydrate your hands after you’ve worked with them and scrubbed them clean, and the tea tree oil is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and antimicrobial, so it adds several great properties to the scrub. You could also replace the tea tree oil with lavender essential oil since it has similar properties.

This simple hand scrub will help to keep your hands clean and free of dirt, no matter how much you work in your garden this summer!

Merissa Alink loves making the most with what she has and she blogs all about it on You can find her recipe for Gardener’s Hand Scrub and over 130 other DIY recipes in her book, Little House Living: The Make-Your-Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life, which is available on Amazon.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

We Need Your Gardening Tips!


Do you love to garden? Over the years we’ve done a variety of different types of gardens with our kids. They love growing their own food and it’s been a great way to get them to try new things as well.

I’m always looking for new gardening ideas and tips. Do you have a great one you’d like to share? I’m working on an gardening ebook and I’d love to include your best gardening tip!

Anyone who submits a tip will receive a free copy of the ebook when it is finished. I’d love to learn from you and help encourage other readers to give gardening a try!

If you have a tip you can submit it below. If you have more than one tip just refresh this page and submit a new tip.

Gardening Ebook

  • Please leave a link to your website if you have one.
  • Please share your best gardening tip here.
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    All images submitted are my own. I give permission to republish this tip and images on the web and in print.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Cleaning with Baking Soda

By contributing writer Angie

Baking soda isn’t just for baking cookies and making science fair volcano experiments, even though both of those can be pretty fun. Cleaning with baking soda can be an inexpensive, safe, and green cleaning alternative, just like its science fair volcano friend, vinegar.

So, why not go get a big box of baking soda and try out some of these cleaning methods that you might not have tried before?

Cleaning with Baking Soda | The Happy Housewife

10 Ways to Start Cleaning with Baking Soda

1. Remove trash can odors. To help neutralize trash can smells, you can sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of your trash can. If you have particularly bad trash can odors, you can even follow up that method by sprinkling some more baking soda inside the trash bag.

2. Kitchen drain cleaner. If you have a garbage disposal, then you might have had the experience of a stinky kitchen sink. To combat this smell, as well as do some cleaning, add a half cup of baking soda to your drain while running very hot water.

3. Clean tiled floors. By adding a half cup of baking soda to a bucket of warm water, you can clean your tiled floors. For particularly tough spots, you can make a paste for spot cleaning.

4. Use as a surface cleaner. Counter tops can be cleaned by sprinkling baking soda on the surface and then wiping it down with warm water.

5. Deodorize carpets. To give your carpet an extra cleaning the next time you vacuum, just sprinkle baking soda in carpeted areas and let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Once the time has passed, vacuum the carpet as you usually would.

6. Spot cleaning spills on carpets. You should first clean up as much of the spill as possible and dry the area. Then, you can spread the area with baking soda to help get rid of odors that might occur, especially if the spill was able to soak far into the carpet. After you’ve allowed the baking soda to sit for 10 – 15 minutes, vacuum that area of the carpet.

7. Get rid of refrigerator and freezer odors. This is, of course, a classic use for baking soda. In fact, they even sell boxes that are specially made to allow maximum air flow through the box in order to help them be more effective. Just remember to change the refrigerator and freezer baking soda boxes periodically. While there isn’t any harm in forgetting and leaving them there, they will become less effective.

8. Cleaning food stuck on pots and pans. If you have food stuck on pots and pans that just won’t budge, you can sprinkle on a decent amount of baking soda and then add hot water to the pan. Allow it to sit for several hours before trying to work on the stuck-on food again. It still may take some work to remove it, but the baking soda should help.

9. Boost your laundry’s cleaning power. By adding a half to a full cup of baking soda to your laundry, you can help brighten and clean your clothes.

10. Clean up grease spills. Baking soda can be poured on grease spills and then scrubbed to clean the greasy area.

Do you use baking soda as a cleaning agent in your home? If so, what is your favorite use?

More from The Happy Housewife

photo by Joel Kramer

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.