7 Everyday Items You Can Reuse to Encourage Creativity and Connection

Every time I go to recycle something I could use as a toy or activity, I feel a tinge of guilt.  You see, there are so many things going into our recycling bins every week which could actually be awesome materials for learning, and would help our environment at the same time.

To send them to the recycling bin seems like such a huge waste of resources and the chance for creativity.

Reusing encourages imagination, invention, creativity, connection through creating, and keeps us from overconsumption.
- Stephanie Aberlich

I'm in no way condoning hoarding or OCD type behaviors, which are both the opposite of a healthy homestead.  Instead, I'm saying we can stand to save a limited amount of the stuff going towards the recycling bin instead of purchasing new toys or games.

It's a win win in multiple aspects.  Reusing encourages imagination, invention, creativity, connection through creating, and keeps us from overconsumption - which is really the true enemy of our precious Mother Earth.

The real goal as I see it, is a huge reduction in purchasing many of these items.  If we want our children and grandchildren to have a suitable place to live, we've got to turn into a cyclical society.  Meaning, our first instinct after using an item needs to become to reuse it in some way.   Recycling is great, but it's barely above throwing it in the garbage.

Before we destine an item for the recycling bin, stop and think of how it could be reused.  There are many wonderful businesses and websites now popping up to send your reusables to - like thredup.com or freecycle.org.  In my opinion, the future of consumerism is REUSErism, but it will take us all making the conscious decision to reuse first to make this possible.

For the purpose of this blog, I'm going to assume you are in the beginning stages of your sustainable journey, so you may have several of these items laying around your home still.

Here are 7 Items to Reuse and Ideas of How to Use Them:

1. Paper

Magazines, cards, envelopes, junk mail & other paper = awesome art supplies.  Put these things in a drawer with easy access, so your child(ren) can get their art on whenever they want.

2. Plastic Containers

Plastic containers can easily become bowling pins, pouring containers or play/mud kitchen toys.  Pouring is a time-honored tradition for young children.  Let them loose with sand, water, rice, or anything else that can easily be poured.

3. Cardboard

Toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, cardboard boxes & shoe boxes = Easy supplies for a play house, doll houses, parking garages for matchbox cars, game boards, binoculars, etc.  Again, keep a couple and let your children decide how they want to repurpose them.

4. Packaging

Many times, the packaging from new products is super cool looking.  It can be reused as doll house accessories, game pieces, or building materials for any number of creations.

5. Ribbons & Ties

So many items come with a ribbon or fabric tie that could be easily reused for dolls clothes, fine motor skill activities, and making shapes.  Put a bunch together to create a "kite" or "rainbow", whatever your child can imagine.

6. Fabric

Old clothes and towels can become doll clothes, dress up clothes, or any number of game pieces.  They are also great to add to the craft closet.

7. Old Money

Old check books, credit cards, and gift cards are awesome to repurpose for imaginative play.  My mom used to give me her old checkbooks and I remember how much I loved playing with them.

Awareness Over Perfection

As with everything, the goal is progress not perfection.  Awareness of the issues plaguing our Earth and working towards more sustainable practices in your home is the work.  Please do not feel you must reuse every item on the list at all times.  Do what works for you and your family.

Tell Your Story

What things do you like to reuse?  In what ways do you reuse them?  What are some other things you find are going in the trash or recycling bin that you could reuse instead?  Let's learn from each other.  Tell me in the comments.

With Harmony,

Stevie