Our mothers and/or grandmothers grew up in a time when money and resources were scarce. That scarcity forced people to really make the most of the few resources they had at their disposal. But our foremothers were as savvy as they come, and they truly mastered the art of reusing and repurposing!
There’s a lot we can learn from the way Grandma lived, especially now that the pandemic has led to widespread financial hardships. Finding ways to reuse things maximize your resources can help you stretch a limited budget. And on a larger scale, global climate change and other environmental issues have made resourcefulness and waste reduction more important than ever!
In today’s post, we’ll be following in our grandmothers’ footsteps by exploring 9 things they never threw away, so that we can learn how to reuse those things too! With the help of these simple tips, we can all work toward living a less wasteful and more resourceful life in the coming year!
9 Things Grandma Never Threw Away
1. Worn Out Fabrics
Grandma was a real pro when it came to reusing fabric. If Grandpa’s suit started to fall apart, she would hack it up and turn it into something new! You can apply this “make-do” mentality by finding ways to fix or reuse old clothes, towels, and bedsheets.
You might be able to salvage your favorite pair of jeans with a new zipper! That old sweater may look as good as new after a good de-pilling session. Or you can cut up a hole-ridden towel to use as dish cloths. Even an old sheet can be used as a drop cloth!
Related: 17 New Ways To Use Old Bed Sheets
2. Aluminum Foil
Depending on how you used a piece of aluminum foil the first time, you may be able to rinse it off and use it again! Reuse foil to cover up leftovers, or ball it up and use it to scrub stubborn messes out of your pots and pans.
You can also use foil to sharpen scissors! Just fold a piece of foil up a few times, then cut across it several times with your scissors.
3. Shirt Buttons
Grandma would never have let good shirt buttons go to waste! If an old shirt starts to fall apart, reuse the fabric (see #1 above) and put the buttons aside somewhere safe. Use your stashed buttons to replace missing buttons on other pieces of clothing, or on clothes you make from scratch!
4. Jars, Jugs, Boxes, & Other Containers
Many food items come in plastic or glass containers, and those containers can all be reused in hundreds of ways! Use larger jars to store bulk ingredients in your pantry or homemade spice mixes, and smaller jars to keep track of screws or nails in the garage.
You can even remove the labels from your containers to make them look a little nicer. (Check out the link below for details!)
5. Food Scraps & Bones
Grandma would never throw out perfectly good chicken carcasses, fatty bits of meat, or the tops and bottoms of veggies, because all of those things can be used to make delicious homemade broths and stocks! Whenever you have these types of scraps after preparing a meal, add them to a ziplock freezer bag and keep it in your freezer.
Once the bag is full, dump it into your Instant Pot with a few cups of water and your favorite seasonings. After an hour or two of pressure cooking, you’ll have a delicious stock that’s ready to strain and use in all your favorite recipes!
Instead of tossing your eggshells in the trash, save them! After washing and drying them, you can use them for all sorts of things. They make a great fertilizer for your garden while also deterring pests. Check out the link below to learn much more about reusing eggshells.
7. Bacon Fat
Cooking oils and fats cost money to buy at the store, so why get rid of perfectly good bacon fat? You can use it in place of butter or oil while making gravy, soups, cornbread, potato salad, and more! Keep bacon fat in an airtight container in your fridge, and it will stay good for about a month.
Grandma had no shortage of ways to reuse newspapers and newsprint. Use it to wrap gifts and packages, clean glass and windows, cushion fragile items in storage, line pet cages, or make your own fire starters!
Related: How To Make Your Own Fire Starters
9. Soap Scraps
When you use up a bar of soap, you usually end up with a little sliver that is too small to use functionally. Instead of tossing it out, tuck those soap scraps into a worn out stocking (or one leg of a worn pair of pantyhose) for safe keeping.
Once you have a good amount of soap slivers saved up, tie off the stocking and trim the excess material away. Then you’ll have a perfectly good soap pouch to use in the shower or at the sink for washing up!
What sorts of items do you reuse and repurpose at home?