Surprising Secondary Savers: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Image Credit: Waste Wise Products
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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is one of the most urgent messages of our time, as the world has apparently hit the Point of No Return.

While the simplistic yet controversial study has since been debunked by further scientific study (apparently giving us seven more years), going green is still a very much an encouraged lifestyle to get down.

Here are some surprising reuses and upcycling methods for some items we might discard a little too soon, thinking that it was only good for one thing!

recycle can
Image credit: Rui Matayoshi | Unsplash

Soda Can Tabs

Aluminum is one of the most valued recyclable materials in the world, but these little tabs often get separated from the cans during general waste crushing, and end up taking a little longer to get to the reprocessing cycle. Did you know that a pop tab also takes about a hundred years to organically wear down?

Before you chuck a can into the recycling bin, save the pop tab! A good handful can be repurposed or upcycled to be a strong addition to craftwork, loop hangars together for a space-saving hack, or be a solid loop to hang pictures from.

Tennis Balls

If being smacked across an entire court in an event literally known as the Grand Slam doesn’t convince you how durable this item is, not much can. But this hardy neon ball has more uses than taking impact!

Its furry exterior is great for cleaning scuff marks off floors, cobwebs from corners, and sucking up oily grime from the surface of swimming pool water. Keeping a few clean ones around for tumbling in a dryer can save time and fluff up comforters and blankets, or even line a chair to strategically help with back massages.

reuse screwdriver

Flat Head Screwdriver

Not so much of a reusing as compared to others on this list, but having a flat head screwdriver within reach at all times instead of tucked away in a tool box is a safer option for many events that require the use of a tool, promoting reduce!

This unassuming stick acts as a pry-bar, package opener, scraper, chisel, punch, as well as doubling up as a multitool in place of square head screwdrivers and hose picks. Great for those who are hesitant in handling sharp objects!

recycle vodka
Image credit: Orkhan Farmanli | Unsplash

Cheap Vodka

Don’t scoff just yet! This bottom-shelf vice has more uses than taking you straight to a migraine without a proper buzz. Keep some in a spray bottle for a handy mould killer, or to remove odours from couches and car seats. A little spritz can also act as a glass and mirror cleaner in a pinch.


Stocking wearers, we all know the pain of having a pantyhose rip when pulled up wrong, or been through the wash just one too many times. But before we chuck the whole thing into the fabric recycle bin, the bits that are still intact have a little more life to them!


Secure the untorn bit over the nuzzle of a vacuum cleaner for an ultra-fine filter in case you need to find pins and coins at hard-to-reach places like the insides of a car. A larger piece can substitute a pool filter when needed, and smaller pieces can serve as coffee strainers when absolutely necessary.

Shaving Cream

Clumsy people be thankful! The emulsifiers and soap making up the foamy spray works like a charm for stains on most fabrics. All you need to do is dampen the area with water, apply a light coverage of shaving cream, and scrub a little with a wet cloth. Clean up the suds with another clean cloth, et voila!

A pea-sized amount on a dry mirror also prevents fogging for a while; just wax it on in a circular motion like you’re polishing a car.

recycle coffee grounds
Image credit: Noora Alhammadi | Unsplash

Ground Coffee

Many might already be familiar with its use as a deodorizer, but did you know sprinkling the remains of your morning drink around your house plants will keep insects and pests away as well as fertilize the soil? Just be sure to know the preference of the plants you are going to dust, as some might not react well to the acidity of the soil going up! (A little goes a long way.)

If you don’t have a plant, coffee grounds can also be saved to be used as an abrasive scrub for getting rid of burnt residue on pans, or as a fragrant addition to compost lining.

*A version of this article was first published in The Expat (January 2020 edition). To get more content and updates, subscribe here.

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