Archive for the "household" category

How can I reuse or recycle a wooden shoe rack?

There was a neighbourhood “give and take” event near me at the weekend – people took along their unwanted items and took home anything other people had donated that took their fancy — all for free. It was mostly small things – crockery, household knick-knacks and books – but there were some larger things too – old TVs and other electronics, rugs and other bits of furniture.

We didn’t “take” anything in the end: I was tempted by a pretty coffee pot from the kitchenware table until John pointed out that we already have one which we don’t use, and I was also VERY tempted by a lovely black cat who was keeping an eye on the proceedings, though I’m not to sure he’d have been happy to be taken. But we did give away a box of things we no longer needed, and it felt good to have a clear-out.

I did though rescue a simple wooden shoe rack from the “to go” pile at the last minute. I thought it had been thrown out when we replaced it in the porch with built-in cubbies but apparently it had only made it as far as the garage. As it hit the “to go” pile, I declared I could think of “a thousand” uses for it here and demanded to keep it. Thankfully John didn’t ask me to list the full thousand but my brain did start ticking away.

My first ideas were it being a shoe rack in other places in the house — something that’s especially useful coming into winter where there are invariably muddy boots and shoes near every door. Or there is always stuff in the kitchen to go into the garden – I could put shoes on one shelf and have the other shelf for flower pots and what not.

Speaking of the garden & pots, my greenhouse staging is awash with empties at the moment – some extra (albeit small) shelving would be useful in there, and in the spring/summer, it could be useful for holding plants – hopefully the slats would discourage some slugs too. Or I could mount the shelves from the shoe rack onto a wall with strong bracket to make a new potting bench – perhaps with tool hooks underneath.

I made a similarly slatted “tray” for drying homemade soap and before we moved here, I used the very shoe rack in question in the “jumpers” part of my wardrobe as an additional shelf (so they all weren’t piled up in one big heap and the slats allowed air circulation).

Flipped onto an end and lined with an old pillow case, it could be used as a laundry basket and if it was sturdier, it might make a good bench for children.

So that’s about nine alternative ideas – any suggestions for the other 991 reuses? :)


How can I reuse or recycle old glass blocks/glass bricks?

We’ve had an email from Whitney, asking about reuse/recycling ideas for glass blocks (or glass bricks, as they’re also known):

We just bought a house and making a lot of renovations. We removed some glass blocks from an old bathroom window and I want to reuse them for something. I love glass blocks and since they didn’t get broken in the renovation process I’d love to do something with them. I’d love to be able to drill holes in them and place lights for outdoor use, but don’t know how to do it. I was also thinking about just placing them around the garden, but am looking for some more innovative ideas.

I love the idea of using them in the garden – for bed/path edging for example, or if you have a lot of them, as a privacy screen/divider. I imagine in time the edge seals might become damaged and bugs or greenery may creep inside but that could look pretty cool too :)

More creatively, I’ve seen them used effectively as the “legs” on simple tables – panels of glass blocks at each end of the table top, though I’m not sure how it was all fixed together – any ideas?

Any other practical or creative suggestions for using them either inside or outside of the house?


How can I reuse or recycle toilet seats?

Apologies for the break in blogging – I’ve been super busy with other things over the last month. And in my absence, Recycle This had its sixth birthday! Happy Birthday website! :D

Anyway, moving on: we’ve had an email from Stephanie about toilet seats:


I just came into about 25 toilet seat all different colors (red, yellow, green, blue….) I know they can be reused but I’m stuck. I thought the game horse shoes but they don’t have the open front, I was even suggested picture frames! Please help.

An unusual thing to suddenly acquire but they would make very fun (ok, silly) picture frames in a bathroom.

I’ve got half an idea in my mind about using them to hold open rubbish bags or laundry bags – I can’t quite formulate it into an actual reuse — after a few weeks of not posting, I’m clearly out of practise at coming up with ideas so I’ll had it over to you guys.

What would you do with some unwanted toilet seats? Do you know anywhere that would take them to reuse for intended purpose? Or can you think of any fun or practical reuse or recycling suggestions?

I’m presuming, because they’re different colours, that they’re plastic but do feel free to make suggestions for wooden ones too in case anyone has those to use up instead.


How can I reuse or recycle wallpaper samples?

Following on from the paint tester pots the other week, I’ve got some wallpaper samples that have served their purpose too. I really can’t wait for our renovations to be over!

Like the paint, the samples were to check out ideas/colours/designs in-situ. Some of them were torn from rolls in shops (with permission! I’m not just a random vandal ;) ) and are about 60cm/2ft wide by about the same long, while others are A4 sheets that I’ve had posted out to check colours. They’re all thick, heavy paper as you would expect from wallpaper.

Obviously the best thing would have been to reduce in the first place – to be a bit more decisive and not collected so many samples but like with the paint, these are to offset a potentially larger waste by picking the wrong thing – so now I’m looking for reusing/upcycling ideas.

Most of them are “feature” wallpapers so patterns & colours that I like but not enough for them to be displayed as framed pieces of art in their own right. The ones with a small repeating pattern though could be used as paper behind something else in a frame though (for example, I have some pretty buttons that I might want to display – they would look great on some of the plain-ish pinstriped paper).

They’d be fine for lining drawers too – many people (including us) don’t line drawers with paper any more because the insides on modern furniture don’t tend to be as rough on delicates as they used to be but it’s certainly worth doing on vintage furniture – and looks pretty too.

Do kids still have to back school textbooks/exercise books? We used to use wallpaper (amongst other things) for that. The fact I have to ask that question probably shows that it’s not a reuse I could specifically do but others might be able to reuse wallpaper samples in that way — and I could keep some for next time I make a notebook for myself.

Any other ideas? How would you reuse wallpaper samples? Are they suitable for any papercrafts or would they be too thick?


How can I reuse or recycle vertical blinds material?

Someone on my Twitter feed yesterday – I can’t remember who, sorry – asking about ways to recycle or reuse the material from vertical track blinds.

My first – instinctive – reaction was “bleugh!” because I hate the feel of those blinds ;) My second thought was “good question!”

We had lots of great ideas for re-using the slats from Venetian blinds so what about vertical blinds?

The fabric is usually synthetic and a little rigid & scratchy (hence the bleugh!) so not ideal sewing material but I’m sure those attributes could be strengths in some projects. The strips of fabric are usually about 10cm/4inches wide and as long as the window drop (so typically at least a metre or so).

On the slat blinds post, chez suggested using vertical blinds to make a shopping bag — weaving the strips together. They could also be woven together to make a protective mat – or even a picnic blanket type thing if you’re not so phobic of the fabric as me :)

Have you reused or upcycled vertical blinds in any way? What would you do with the material?