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Don't Throw That Away

Before pitching things in the trash, consider if something can be reused or recycled.


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In colonial times, the catchphrase was “Waste not, want not.” During the Great Depression, the motto was “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” For recent generations inspired by the growing green movement, the mantra has been “Reduce, reuse, recycle.”

See also: Uses for old pantyhose.

However you say it, it’s all about saving the Earth’s resources — and saving you money. Focus on “creative repurposing.” In other words, reuse stuff that you might otherwise throw out, and see how much money you can save.

I come from a long line of creative repurposers. As friends always said about my Grandpa Yeager, “Clyde never met a piece of scrap lumber he didn’t love.” I'm proud to say that the repurposing gene has been passed down to me. With my poor wife as witness, I'm notorious for shouting "Don't throw that away!" whenever I see her heading toward the trash bin with anything even remotely repurpose-able.

Think I'm kidding?

  • I save old phone books and use the pages as window wipes, fire starters, package filler, or a substitute waxed paper for separating baked goods and other items in the freezer.
  • I crumble up our eggshells and sprinkle them around garden plants to enrich the soil and naturally deter slugs and other crawling pests. Or, in the spring, I use eggshell halves filled with potting soil instead of peat pots to start seedlings.
  • I reuse those pesky foam-packing peanuts instead of gravel in the base of potted plants to provide drainage and make the containers lighter to move.
  • I have more re-uses for worn-out pantyhose than my wife has worn-out pantyhose for me to repurpose.

From tinfoil to plastic grocery bags, from stale bread to plastic soda bottles, if it's trash to most people, I'll bet you that together we can find another use — or 20 — for it. Repurposing would-be throwaways is fun. It can save you some serious money while putting a smile on Mother Earth’s face.

aarp savings challenge: recycle and repurpose, don't throw away

Remember to recycle and repurpose -- don't just throw items away. — Photo by Getty Images

So get started today, and whatever you do, Don’t Throw That Away!

Jeff Yeager is the author of The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches, The Cheapskate Next Door and Don’t Throw That Away. His website is and you can friend him on Facebook at JeffYeagerUltimateCheapskate or follow him on Twitter.

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