Everyday Environmentalist

Repackage Your Packaging

“So, before you toss out that box, jar, container or bag, think about how you can reuse it.”

-Stacy Raine, Gift Planning Marketing and Communications Manager

By Stacy Raine

You’ve heard of turning your old shoeboxes into storage for anything from photographs to your daughter’s hair ribbons. That’s what I call repackaging packaging: taking the nice, sturdy, shouldn’t-be-ready-for-the-trash wrapping from your newest purchase and giving it a new life. So, before you toss out that box, jar, container or bag, think about how you can reuse it. Here are some of my favorite creative recycling ideas:

The glass jar. Your spaghetti sauce, pickles or jelly jar can have so many uses once you’ve consumed the goodies that originally brought this fancy little glass to your home. If you are looking for a craft, try a jar lantern. Securely wrap wire around the rim of the jar and place a tea light inside. (Tutorials abound online.) You can also use these glass containers for anything your organized-heart desires: for instance, jars make great containers for your bathroom belongings like cotton balls, q-tips or even homemade bath salts.

And of course, your jar can also go straight back to the pantry to begin life anew similarly to how it began: storing your pantry goods, like dried beans, grains or the remainder of the chocolate chips from last night’s cookie recipe. Add a sweet little label and you’ve got a beautifully organized pantry.

The brown paper bag. Of course, we try to take our reusable bags to the grocery store each time. But on those days that you forget (Hey! We’re human!), choose paper and plan to reuse your paper bag by transforming it into a shipping envelope. Or, if that’s a little too complicated, just use it as wrapping paper for the next birthday gift on your list.

A tin can. The tin can is truly underutilized. What once held your green beans should really now hold your pencils or makeup brushes. Or even your herbs! These little metal cylinders make great small plant containers, so you can start a whole urban herb garden with discarded aluminum cans. Or, if planting isn’t your thing, they make for beautiful, rustic vases too.

Zippered bedding bags. You know those thick plastic zippered bags in which your new sheets or pillowcases came packaged in? Big or small, those bags make great organization tools. You can categorize and store kids’ toys in the big ones that originally wrapped your comforter, or use the small ones that once housed your pillowcases for corralling extra electronic cords.

My favorite use for pillowcase packaging? An airport-ready travel toiletry bag. Tell those Ziplocs to take a hike!

All-natural packaging. Don’t forget the benefits of repurposing your all-natural packaging by taking it straight from your kitchen to your compost heap. Banana peels, onion skins and orange rinds can all be turned into some lovely, luscious compost for your plants.

You can easily reduce your footprint by finding ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Clever ways to reduce packaging waste are all around you! What ideas do you have to repackage packaging?

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not represent those of The Nature Conservancy.


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